New car review: Chevrolet Captiva
ALREADY established as a solid and popular option at the budget end of the compact seven-seat SUV market, this improved version of Chevrolet's first-generation Captiva has a brawnier, more efficient engine range and adds a little more attitude and quality to the mix. The changes come at a cost, but they've made this car a far 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 2.0-litre unit was a decent first effort, its replacement in 2011 has a 2.2-litre engine under the bonnet, which 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 9.8 and 118 for the redesigned six-speed automatic.
It's nice to have the extra power, but what I've noticed more from this engine on the move is its greater refinement. A whole range of tweaks have made this car several decibels quieter, which will make a difference for those times you'll be using the car on motorway trips.
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You do feel the seven-seater's kerb weight of nearly two tonnes as you thread your way through tight bends, but a slight reduction in tight cornering bodyroll is probably the key difference. Slightly sharper steering response also helps, as does a well-judged suspension balance that 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. It isn't a Land Rover-rivalling set-up but useful approach and departure angles, Hill Start Assist to get you up steep slopes and Hill Descent Control to help you down them all mean that this car should be able to handle almost anything most owners will come across.
The styling of the original Captiva was neat but rather anonymous. It didn't make a very powerful statement. But this car does. Its raked profile and forward-diving shoulder line work well with an aggressively styled and huge double-height front grille.
The airy and spacious cabin still isn't the classiest in the segment but has come on a good way from the spacious but low-key interior of the original model. The instruments feature signature Chevrolet ice-blue backlighting with everything being easy to read and falling neatly to hand. Probably the biggest change is the deletion of the old conventional handbrake with a slightly fiddly electronic parking brake button. This has freed up space for a deep centre cubby box between the front seats.
You always felt if Chevrolet could combine a bit of American attitude with European efficiency and Far Eastern affordable design, then it would be on to a good thing. And that's exactly what we've got with this revised Captiva. For the right money, this would be a tempting choice for many active families. For more details, visit Pentagon Chevrolet in Derby (DE21 6HB) or call 01332 644213.