Chevrolet’s real contender
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.