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Thanks to the incorporation of better interior materials, a choice of upgraded engines and improved exterior styling, Chevrolet’s 2016 Captiva represents an affordable, family-styled adventure wagon. Kieran Rennie reports
Chevrolet’s 2016 Captiva has undergone a facelift – and luckily it’s of the Scarlett Johansson kind as opposed to a Renée Zellweger alternative. The revised frontal styling – described as the brand’s new family face for Chevrolet – represents a solid improvement on that of the outgoing SUV.
Redesigned LED headlights and a squarer twin port grill give the Captiva a bolder, more purposeful look. Running boards – fitted as a standard feature – have been designed to flair out from under the sills, and make a stylish addition to the flanks.
Eighteen-inch wheels – another standard feature – appear handsome while new LED tail lights complete the exterior makeover. I can’t remember anyone calling the outgoing model ugly but it certainly never delivered the visual impact that the new car does.
Inside, the dashboard and multifunction steering wheel look less cluttered and easier to use, while the highlight of the cabin’s upgrade is a new My Link system that offers Phone Projection Technology.
Essentially, the system presents your smartphone’s home screen on the car’s infotainment display and allows you to listen to your messages through the vehicle’s sound system. As cars become internet hotspots as well as a means of transport, it is this kind of system which will make that new relationship fun and easy to master. GM is proud to be one of the front runners in this regard.
On the technical side, two engines are available – a 2,4-litre petrol mill which produces 125kW and 230Nm, and a 2,2-litre diesel plant which offers 135kW and 400Nm. GM spokesmen claim fuel economy figures of 8,8 litres/100km for the petrol unit and 7,8 litres/100km for the diesel.
There is no other way to say this than to just blurt it out – in my view the diesel option gives the car the character it deserves. Coupled with a smooth six-speed auto – the only gearbox option available here – it pulls smoothly and overtakes effortlessly.
Petrol-fuelled derivatives are available with either a six-speed manual transmission or the auto ’box. But really folks, try to find the extra money for the diesel powered version – it’s that impressive.
While many standard features available on the Captiva are on par with those of other cars in the class, what really sets this vehicle apart is the fact that has seven seats. In fact, it is South Africa’s only seven-seat, C Segment SUV.
Let’s do a quick comparison. The Captiva 2,4 LT manual costs R386 600. The Ford Kuga 1,5T Trend is a little cheaper, more powerful and lighter on fuel. The Mazda CX5 2,5 Individual is R20K more expensive but is a little more powerful. But neither of these cars has seven seats.
Now, pay attention. The Captiva 2,2D LT costs R431 300. The Mazda CX5 2,2D Akera is R40K more expensive and a little less powerful. The Kia Sportage 2,0 CRDi Tec Auto costs R24K more and is a fair bit less powerful. And again, neither of these cars has seven seats.
I could, of course, pick holes. Some of the plastics still feel a little low-rent in comparison to, let’s say, a Mazda’s finishes. But the Captiva is a much-improved package and represents good value for money.
I remember, back in the day, helping to pack my Dad’s early ’80s Mazda 626 – a 2,0-litre, five-door hatch – the night before the car’s first family road trip. I was around 10 years old. I was buzzing. Not because the car was likely to offer a high speed thrill ride down the N1 – goodness knows I knew enough about cars, even at that age, to understand that it was not a fast car.
I was excited because it was the first car we’d ever owned that had folding rear seats. It also had a fairly large boot. This meant that we could pack all the bags on one side of the boot and, on the other leave space for a bed for my older brother and me to take turns to sleep. A wee hide-away spot. A mobile tent. A private den.
It was a car which created an adventure for a young boy – a great memory that began long before we’d even begun rolling out of the quiet pre-dawn roads of Kempton Park on that particular holiday.
This is what the Captiva is designed to do and, in my view, it does it far better than any sedan or hatch could ever hope to. It provides decent levels of comfort and high standards of safety. It provides a reassuring ambiance and enough space for the family to be together, but not on top of one another, to better enjoy their journeys.
And it provides all of this at a relatively affordable price.
Type Four-cylinder turbocharged
Capacity 2 231cc
Power 135kW at 3 800 revs/min
Torque 400Nm at 2 000 revs/min
Type Six-speed automatic
Drive wheels Front
Front McPherson strut
Rear Independent, four link