Holden’s Captiva 7 series II: Does it feel like a Holden or a Daewoo?

The New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II CaptivaThe New Series II Captiva

Holden Captiva 7: the series II

Quickie Review:

Outside:

Restyled front and rear focusing on the lights, grill and rear bumper, 19”wheels on the top model, 2 part tail gate allowing easy access via gas strut operated rear window, lower skirt has sacrifice sections in black plastic which are easily replaced without having to repaint your car.

Inside:

Restyled dash, instruments and centre console, seating got new fabric (leather in top model), Bluetooth w audio streaming, decent sounding stereo w SD and USB inputs, comfy seats

The drive:

2.2 L 130KW turbo diesel w common rail injection, 6 speed auto, tweaked suspension4-link in the rear, active AWD, safety includes: Active Rollover Protection, Brake Assist, descent control, brake assist, traction control, electronic brake force distribution.

Captiva is out of Holden’s GM-Daewoo plant in Korea. Just by way of background, GM, Holden’s American daddy, bought Daewoo’s car manufacturing arm several years ago. It seems the man who ran Daewoo wasn’t as honest as he could have been. Apparently he may have given himself a long term loan then tried to do a vanishing act. The huge Daewoo group of companies floundered and was broken up in a fire sale. GM thought it might be a bit of fun to have somewhere cheap to build their entry level cars. Holden’s line-up the passenger cars: Barina – Korean, Cruze – Korean but now built in Adelaide, Epica – Korean, Captiva – Korean, Commodore/Calais/Caprice – Australian so slowly over the years almost all of Holden’s range has been transferred offshore. Epica, though still on sale, has been mainly unloved and thankfully has only had the single model. Epica is due for replacement by GM’s Chevy Malibu and that can’t come quick enough for my liking.

I confess to similar feelings with the first Captiva. I didn’t like the front or the back for that matter. The lights looked wrong and somehow rather cheap, but these, along with the grill, have been given the waving over of a magic wand. This pixie dust has done amazing things for the looks of Captiva. Although the basic design remains the same, it now has a fresh frock which has brought it up to date. The big 19” wheels go a long way to making the top model look nicely proportioned. It’s true that you can’t go far wrong with a 2 box design so the little touches in the form of window dressing go a long way to making a considerable improvement to the car’s appearance.

So the outside has gone from looking frumpy to frocked-up, has the inside improved any? Yes it has. Like the outside, the cabin had fairy dust in liberal amounts giving the dash a neater appearance. The dials have more separation and are easier to read. There is a small LCD for driver info in the centre of the array and a larger screen for other info in the console display. Speaking of the console, the infotainment system contains Satnav, where fitted, with the air conditioning and radio controls just below. The cabin is bathed in a subtle blue light which Holden has in all its Korean-built models. It does take a bit of getting used to. I have warmed to the blue as I’ve been further exposed to it.

The centre console is clearly divided into satnav, air cond, audio and gear selection which is very easy to come to terms with. I like a cup of coffee on a trip so the clever cup holders are particularly appealing. You can store your bits and bobs in the bin then slide the cup holders forward which then covers what you have stored and provides a spot for your favourite bevy-on-the-move. For the money, the audio system is quite good and the Bluetooth fairly easy to use. Personally I hate faffing. If I have to faff with things to make them work, I quickly lose interest. That goes for all the fancy schmancy options that cost a fortune including Satnav, which in some brands simply defies description. The Bluetooth did have a few deficiencies so the easiest way to use it is to have your phone connected and make calls using the phone itself for voice dialling. Holden’s own IQ which is used in the Commodore/Caprice range is easily the best on the market both in terms of ease of use and flexibility but there are no plans to install it in other Holdens. Finally we have auxiliary controls on the steering wheel to make life easier for those who can’t bear the thought of reaching all the way to the centre of the console array though frankly most of us could use the exercise couldn’t we?

Next we took the old girl out for a turn round the block. First thing to notice is the firm ride. Holden had a jolly good fiddle with the suspension which in the first Captivas was a little floaty and isolated. The steering had a similar sprucing up and feels more up market with a nice response. The ride was comfy and the handling was more like a car than a big ol’ hunk of metal with a high centre of gravity weighing 1800kgs. The engine was mighty snappy too. Of course there was the usual turbo lag but diesels have gone ahead in light-year steps over the last 15 years. Once upon a time you had a task trying to pull a skin of custard, but how things have changed. The 135KW doesn’t sound like much but with a huge 400nm of torque you sprint away at the lights like a startled gazelle. I never thought I’d be saying that about an oil burning engine but she really picks up her skirts when she has to. There are annoying flat spots here and there in the acceleration curve and once you get to max revs that’s it, there is no more.

I could imagine going on a long trip In the Captiva and being very comfortable. It’s much quieter than you might have given it credit for, especially on the smooth tarmac. As per usual on SUV’s the tyres make slightly more noise than those on a compact sporty job. The real reason you would buy this car is to transport yourself and 6 chums, in relative comfort, fairly cheaply. The base models come in 2WD only and I can see little point for it to exist, but that also goes for any 2WD SUV. There are many 2WD cars that drive better and cost less. As for the cargo space, there is a lot of it but again there are cars that have great cargo space but are far more stylish such as Holden’s own mega-sexy Commodore Sports Wagon which is in the same ballpark cost wise.

Most of us are only ever going to go shopping with the odd trip to the mountains or beach on the weekend and Captiva will do that easily. Australia is the “beach and sunblock” set and if you just want a cheap way to get as many friends around the city beaches and coffee shops then you might be in with a promise.

The thing to remember with al soft roaders is they are not true 4WD vehicles so any serious terrain is going to see you marooned embarrassingly out of reach of help. It isn’t quite as polished as a Honda CRV and not as good looking as Toyota’s Prado/FJ cruiser/Rav 4 and not as good value for money as Nissan’s Xtrail. In all fairness I feel this way about most SUV’s mainly because of the people who drive them who seem the think they are the only people on the road. I’ve often been asked which SUV I would buy if I was forced to, and the answer is I would never buy one. I’d have a little roadster or sexy coupe and hire a 4WD if I needed one. Ford’s Territory is the leader in this segment with a better interior and nicer looking exterior.

I’d like to see this diesel in a Commodore wagon to test the water as to how Australians would take to an economical version of the country’s top selling car.

Gay boys like a bit of bling which I’m not sure can be filled by Captiva.

2.4 petrol: 123kW, 230Nm, 9.1L/100km which is down from 9.7L/100km
2.2 turbo diesel: 135kW, 400Nm, 8.1 l/100k LX 2wd, 8.3 l/100k LX 4WD and 8.5L/100km for Captiva 5 4WD
3.0 V6 petrol: 190kW, 288Nm, 11.3L/100km which is down from 11.7L/100km

Price starting at $34,490 Holden currently have specials which add a sunroof and sidesteps to Captive 7 adding $2600 worth of value at no extra cost.

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