Cap­ti­vated by Chevy’s fine SUV

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOTORING - KEVIN RITCHIE

THE SALES gumf will prom­ise you a 7-seater SUV and, in truth, they’re not ly­ing – just like, one of those thin bis­cuit-like spare wheels is a spare wheel.

The Chevro­let Cap­tiva does have seven seats, but the last two are dickey seats that in­ge­niously emerge from the boot, halv­ing it but pro­vid­ing two very func­tional – al­beit re­stricted – and safe seats. If you’ve got a large – and young fam­ily – or if you’ve got a nor­mal-sized fam­ily and have to take the in-laws with you, it’s perfect; even if it does mean you’ll have to fit a tow-hitch and pull a trailer for ev­ery­one’s bags.

But that’s the only whinge you’re go­ing to hear from me on this car. I’m not a great fan of SUVs to start with, plus there’s a hel­luva lot to choose from in this seg­ment which makes it very dif­fi­cult for mar­ques to de­velop mod­els than can and will stand out.

Chev might have done that with the Cap­tiva. For a start, it ticks all the boxes as a safe and de­pend­able mommy’s taxi; over and above the airbags, it doesn’t roll back at stop streets or on hill climbs, the doors lock as you drive away, there are child locks on the back doors, the brakes have ABS and EBD and there’s in-built sta­bil­ity con­trol not just for the ve­hi­cle but for the trailer that you might be pulling.

In­side, be­yond the USB charge points (nice touch for the teens) in the back, there’s Chev’s be­spoke MyLink which promises to pro­vide a seam­less link between iPhones or an­droid de­vices and the car’s on­board en­ter­tain­ment suite through the Ap­ple CarPlay app or An­droid’s Auto Ac­cess app. Not hav­ing ei­ther, I wasn’t able to fully re­view this as­pect, but given our in­creas­ing de­pen­dency upon smart­phones for ev­ery­thing from en­ter­tain­ment to di­rec­tions, this does ap­pear to be a real step to­wards prop­erly in­te­grat­ing phones and cars.

The Cap­tiva has ev­ery­thing an SUV lover is look­ing for; first and fore­most, the abil­ity to change modes from 7-seater to spa­cious 5seater with oo­dles of room for sports gear or week­end camp­ing, all the way through to drop­ping all the seats in the back and us­ing the ve­hi­cle to move packing cases.

There are three mod­els on of­fer, start­ing with the 2.4-litre man­ual, also avail­able as an au­to­matic and then the 2.2-litre turbo diesel, which was the ve­hi­cle on test. Push­ing out 135kW it had all the power you might need, plus a de­cent clear­ance for those pesky Joburg mo­ments; like strik­ing Pik­itup work­ers, ob­streper­ous taxis, bro­ken traf­fic lights or road­blocks for out­stand­ing RTMC fines, al­low­ing you to jump the mid­del­man­netjie kerb with rel- ative ease and go back the way you came.

The true test of Cap­tiva for me, though, wasn’t in what it of­fered, but rather how it stacked up against its most di­rect ri­val; one of which would be the ever-pop­u­lar Hyundai Santa Fe which I’d tested only a cou­ple of weeks be­fore.

You can get the Cap­tiva from R396 600. You will pay R699 900 for the 10kW ex­tra that the Santa Fe of­fers.

Need­less to say, I am (par­don the pun) cap­ti­vated!

The com­pet­i­tively priced Cap­tiva stacks up favourably against its ri­vals.

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