Styling, a keen price and seven seats - is this the ul­ti­mate fam­ily ve­hi­cle?

Nam Wheels - - Front Page -

There's one ques­tion I keep get­ting asked and, wouldn't you know it, just this morn­ing some­one once again en­quired what the best car was that I drove re­cently.

Quite iron­i­cally, I men­tioned the Chevro­let Cap­tiva, which caused a fair amount of con­ster­na­tion as it's cer­tainly not a su­perb au­to­mo­bile. So why did I men­tion a me­diocre car?

To deal with the medi­ocrity of it first, the Cap­tiva is an el­derly model from the Gen­eral Mo­tors sta­ble which can trace some of its roots to the de­funct Dae­woo Mo­tor di­vi­sion.

This Korean brand built sen­si­ble, or­di­nary cars and that ethos is still quite tan­gi­ble in some re­badged Chevro­lets of the present; Cap­tiva in­cluded.

Al­though the body shows mod­ern pro­por­tions for a mid-size SUV, the age­ing de­sign has been tin­kered with reg­u­larly to keep it fresh. Its most re­cent in­jec­tion of youth in­cludes new light clus­ters all around, var­i­ous trim items and lux­u­ries in­side and out. Touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment with Carplay and Blue­tooth; it's all here.

The Cap­tiva cabin de­sign is plain and sober; you won't find crazy shapes or dar­ing con­tours among the sen­si­ble switchgear, soft-touch ma­te­rial and hard plas­tics.

The fit and fin­ish is be­low par by to­day's stan­dards and as an­other sign of its age, I found the trip com­puter but­tons oddly placed... near my right knee.

Your ini­tial move­ments and first driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in a Cap­tiva won't be too en­cour­ag­ing ei­ther.

The doors don't thud closed like an Audi, there are no crisp Ger­man dis­plays and you'll search in vain for any sort of ex­trav­a­gance or op­u­lence in here. Oh yes, and the driver's seat rocks back­wards and for­wards as you drive.

Shoddy qual­ity then? Be­sides a few ran­dom in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem re­sets, I don't think so. Be­low- av­er­age qual­ity would be more fit­ting be­cause noth­ing fell off, rat­tled or ex­pired in my week with this Cap­tiva 2.2D LT; and ev­ery­one com­mented on how vastly spa­cious and com­fort­able its big, seven-seater cabin was.

Even the big and hand­some 18inch al­loys with 235 rub­ber fit­ted to this model couldn't de­tract from its re­lax­ing and un­stressed driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Cap­tiva, per­haps as a re­sult of its age, still rides like most fam­ily ve­hi­cles used to; be­fore ev­ery­one de­cided that they needed 30-inch rims and For­mula 1 sus­pen­sion on the school run.

Equipped with a 2,231cc in-line four-cylin­der Turbo-diesel en­gine, this 2.2D ver­sion can call upon max­i­mum power of 135kw or torque of 400Nm.

Al­though it is a tad noisy ( and smelly) at idle, I'm happy to re­port that this en­gine's power de­liv­ery and ev­ery­day re­sponse is ex­cel­lent – cer­tainly back on par with rivals. Chevro­let claims av­er­age Diesel use of 7.8L/100km from the 65L tank and while our weekly av­er­age was around 9.5, a bit of ef­fort should cer­tainly re­ward you with eight or there­abouts.

Put your foot down and, be­sides wet trac­tion is­sues, a Cap­tiva 2.2D should hit 100km/h in 9.8 sec­onds (we got 9.46 at sea level) and run out of puff at 192km/h. Not bad…

Fans of those snappy dual-clutch gear­boxes look away now.

This car car­ries an old-fash­ioned but oh-so-smooth six-speed slusho-matic. It lacks pad­dle shifts but of­fers a tip-shift func­tion; which I ig­nored.

Yet again, like most good fam­ily cars once had, this Cap­tiva re­lies on a won­der­fully stretchy torque con­verter and slow, but­ter-smooth gear changes.

If, like me, you're sud­denly feel­ing a warm ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the old Chevy's fam­ily friend­li­ness, just wait for the best bit. This siz­able and sim­ple SUV, which doesn't have costly op­tional ex­tras to choose from, can be yours for a mere N$431,300.

Par­don the rather strong lan­guage but that's a HELL of a lot of car for the money!

In­cluded in that very keen price is a 5-year/120,000km war­ranty, 3year/60,000km ser­vice plan and all mod­ern ameni­ties like ABS brakes with EBD and BAS, full sta­bil­ity con­trol with hill as­sist, power win­dows and mir­rors, six airbags, child locks and ISOFIX an­chors, eight speak­ers and LED day­time run­ning lights; among oth­ers.

So what if the cabin lacks qual­ity and the driver's seat is wonky. So what if the gear­box is re­laxed and the badge has lit­tle street cred. If you want an Audi, buy an Audi.

If you want a cheap and cheer­ful, big and com­fort­able, brawny and eco­nom­i­cal ve­hi­cle which the kids can mess in, say hello to your new car.

Fresh

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