The rattling freezer
Last week I got to test a car which was reasonably good looking but slightly feeble to drive. I could probably end my review here and let you get on with reading the weather report but I’d quite like to defend my statements; and the Chevrolet Captiva.
Ever since its introduction I’ve secretly admired the look of the Captiva as it somehow manages to hide its mid-size SUV bulk with chunky wheels, trendy lights and a delicate roof line. It’s not too exciting on the inside but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Before I sink my teeth into the Captiva and rant on about its bad habits, I’d like to stress that road testing does involve quite a bit of personal opinion and taste. I hate it, you love it… Horses for courses and all that. I also try to be fair; never criticise unless you have a better suggestion.
My biggest Captiva grudge was its interior build quality; our demo had less than 10 000km on the clock and came standard with an ensemble of two rattles and a squeak. Furthermore, the electrically adjustable driver’s seat was slightly loose, happily rocking forwards and backwards. My suggestion: fix it.
I’m not going to knock the interior materials of the Chevy, they weren’t top-notch quality but the car’s price isn’t exactly top-notch either. Plus, I believe that most of these vehicles will endure a growing family, so dull plastics and inconsistent gaps will quickly make way for durability.
Let’s not call it noisy and cheap (darn it, I just did) because the American offers pleasing space and great versatility as compensation. The U.S. may occasionally struggle with automotive quality and luxury but they do know a thing or two about space and comfort.
They also know how to build an automatic gearbox, as is evident from the double-creamy smooth 5-speed item fitted to the Chevrolet Captiva LTZ. In this top-spec model, it teams up with a 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine with 169kW (230hp) of power or 297Nm of torque.
Given enough room, the two will propel their 2.4 ton host past 100km/h in 10.6 seconds and capitulate at about 200km/h. Average CO2 emission per km is 278g and Chevy reckons their LTZ needs an average of 11.6L unleaded per 100km. Our mixed driving average was closer to 13.
Driving the biggest AWD Captiva is, wonky seat and all, actually quite relaxing. It puts its power down so smoothly that the traction control is completely surplus to requirements; the car’s weight swallows the 230 horsepower hole and leaves little for spirited driving.
The gearbox has a “Winter” mode, too, but I ignored it for fear of the Captiva going into hibernation. Its five ratios are oddly stacked and will often prompt erratic downshifts and hunting to comply with the driver’s commands. Typical American, really.
At least the V6 ejects a reasonably sweet roar from the two chrome exhausts and is more than happy to evenly bark all the way to 6 400rpm if need be. Captiva’s suspension also follows this more relaxed approach to motoring, aiming squarely for passenger comfort.
Big wheels, big weight and big steering effort should discourage most owners from zipping around race tracks, and while the steering is quite responsive it does seem to take sixteen or more turns from lock to lock. Kinda like a bakkie.
Ag sies tog, am I being too tough on the Captiva? I did mention that I liked it, right? Partly responsible for this was the comfy and raised driving position from where you can enjoy the crisp instruments and clever interior. The sound system is average but does offer Aux input, 6 CD shuttle and mp3 capability.
The satellite audio buttons on the steering wheel only skipped forward (no backwards option) and the climate control blew -18°C air at me, no matter what I set the temperature to. The dash-mounted multi-display / trip computer is comprehensive but initially confusing.
I’m being nasty again, aren’t I? Sorry. What I loved about the Captiva is that it offered more cubby holes and oddment spaces than I could’ve ever needed. It also offers seven seats, cruise control, auto lights, auto wipers, a glass sunroof, 18-inch wheels, power windows and (folding) exterior mirrors.
You also get ABS brakes with EBD, electronic stability program, multiple airbags, remote central locking, auto door lock, alarm and immobiliser. Each Captiva is sold with a five year 120 000km warranty and roadside assistance, plus a three year 60 000km service plan.
Prices start at N$298 250 for the 2.4L 4×2 and end with this here 3.2 LTZ at N$433 180. That’s quite expensive for a heavy, rattling chest freezer but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
0-100m: 7.2s / 78.2km/h
0-200m: 11.1s / 102.5km/h
0-300m: 14.3s / 117.3km/h
0-400m: 17.1s / 129.5km/h
0-500m: 19.8s / 148.3km/h
1/4mile: 17.2s @ 80.6mph (129.7km/h)
Climate: Overcast, no wind
Road: Dry tarmac, level
Occupants: Driver, no passengers
Fuel level: 1/2
Mileage: 10 250km