Chevro­let’s real con­tender

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - DRIVE - By Jonathan Crouch

AL­READY pop­u­lar at the bud­get end of the com­pact seven seat SUV mar­ket, this new ver­sion of Chevro­let’s Cap­tiva has a more efficient en­gine range and adds more attitude and qual­ity. The changes come at a cost but make this car a more com­plete con­tender. Get be­hind the wheel and the raised driv­ing po­si­tion that SUV cus­tomers love so much is present and cor­rect. The orig­i­nal Cap­tiva fea­tured Chevro­let’s first diesel en­gine of the mod­ern era and though that 150PS 2.0litre unit was a de­cent first ef­fort, what was just about ac­cept­able in 2007 was sound­ing dis­tinctly rough three years on. So its re­place­ment in 2011 with the 2.2-litre en­gine un­der the bon­net here was timely. The en­try-level front-driven Cap­tiva has a 163PS ver­sion of this unit, but most AWD ver­sions have the torquier 184PS de­riv­a­tive tested here – good for rest to 60 in 9.3 sec­onds on the way to 124mph in man­ual form. Or, the re­designed six speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion man­ages 118mph in 9.8 sec­onds. You feel the kerb weight of nearly two tonnes as you thread your way through tight bends, but the im­prove­ments on what went be­fore have brought this car to the point where you could quite hap­pily live with it if you’re in a hurry. The slight re­duc­tion in tight cor­ner­ing body­roll is prob­a­bly the key dif­fer­ence and the slightly sharper steer­ing re­sponse also helps, as does the fact that a well­judged sus­pen­sion bal­ance means you don’t crash through pot­holes. The on-de­mand all-wheel drive un­der­pin­nings aren’t changed in any sig­nif­i­cant re­spect but then they didn’t need to be. The styling of the orig­i­nal Cap­tiva was neat, but rather anony­mous. Not this car. Its raked pro­file and for­ward­div­ing shoul­der line work well with an ag­gres­sively styled and ut­terly huge dou­ble height front grille. The airy and spacious cabin isn’t the classi­est in the seg­ment, but has come a long way from the spacious but low key in­te­rior of the orig­i­nal model. In the sec­ond seat­ing row, both head and shoul­der room are ad­e­quate and though you can’t im­prove legroom by slid­ing the seat base back and forth, you can re­cline the back­rest for greater com­fort on longer jour­neys. As for lug­gage space, it’s pre­dictably mean at 97litres with all seven seats oc­cu­pied. Which­ever Cap­tiva you choose – front or all-wheel drive, with 163 or 184PS ver­sions of the 2.2litre diesel en­gine – you should find your car to be de­cently equipped. Even the en­try-level front-driven 163PS fiveseat ver­sion has air con­di­tion­ing, Blue­tooth com­pat­i­bil­ity and a six-speaker MP3 CD sys­tem. You al­ways felt if Chevro­let could com­bine a bit of US attitude with Euro­pean ef­fi­ciency and Far East­ern affordable de­sign, then it would be on to a good thing. Now it has.

IM­PROVED : Chevro­let have pro­duced a re­fined ver­sion of their Cap­tiva SUV.

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