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Holden Captiva Series II First Drive
First launched back in 2006 and having notched up 15,500 sales, the Holden Captiva was definitely due for a refresh.
Front-on you'll notice the external changes: a re-designed front grille, projector-style headlamps, and a new bonnet. But the big news sits beneath the bonnet: three new engine and transmission packages that replace the ageing, thirstier petrol and diesel units.
It's not just engines and a revamped look, though. The Series II has been freshened up inside as well, improvements have been made in safety, and the pencil has been sharpened in terms of pricing. New engines, revised sheet metal and additional features usually attract a premium, but the Captiva Series II has actually been reduced by $2000 across the board.
The model line-up hasn't changed – there are still two variants, the Captiva5 and Captiva7, with the 5 and 7 denoting seating capacity. The Captiva 5 is the old Captiva Maxx, and it's a shorter, stubbier version of the 7. It's only a five-seater with fewer features, but has an attractive starting price of $27,990. Interestingly, the Captiva Maxx was priced at $42,990 back in 2006…
The Captiva 7 has three specification levels, SX, CX and LX; the SX is available in 2WD only.
Buyers looking at the SX have can choose from two of the new powertrain combinations, the 2.4–litre petrol or the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Prices for the SX start at $32,490 for the petrol and $35,490 for the turbo-diesel.
Next up is the CX and, again, the buyer can choose between petrol or diesel, the difference being that the petrol is the latest V6 instead of the four-cylinder. The CX starts at $38,490 and the CX diesel is $39,490. The top-spec LX has the same engine choices but gains additional features, like leather trim, 19-inch alloys and satellite navigation. It'll set you back $42,990, or, if you choose the diesel option, $43,990.
The cheaper pricing is only going to increase the new model's appeal. That said, the old pricing didn't put off buyers; the volume-selling top-of-the-range LX diesel accounted for 50 per cent of Captiva sales.
Key changes to the model line-up include side curtain airbags standard across the range (although the side curtain airbag doesn't extend to the third row in the seven-seat model). The interior has a redesigned centre console and new, soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin. An electric handbrake has been fitted, too.
Underneath, Holden engineers have made running changes to the suspension and steering, most notably the adoption of variable-assist power steering. Springs and dampers have been re-calibrated, to reduce body roll, and the front and rear sway bars are now stiffer.
Inside, the driver is still confronted with a huge steering wheel, but the introduction of the electric hand brake, now with a simple lever located in the centre console, has improved the Captiva ergonomically. Besides the redesigned centre console and arm rest, nothing much else has changed. Seating comfort, leg room and access to the third-row seats remain the same. It sits around middle of the pack in terms of comfort, space and practicality.
The Captiva is the first model in the GM range to get the new the new 2.2- litre turbo-diesel (developing 135kW and 400Nm), replacing the old model's smaller 2.0-litre engine. Matched to a new six-speed auto, (the old one only had a five-speeder) the engine is a big step forward for Holden, and we were very impressed with its performance and the transmission's adaptability. It also feels a lot quieter in the cabin at higher speeds, so NVH has obviously been improved; the old unit was noisy and pretty crude in comparison with other SUVs at the time.
Developing 190kW and 288Nm, the 3.0-litre V6 SIDI engine boasts all the improvements seen in the recently upgraded VE Commodore range. In the heavier Captiva the 3.0–litre engine works hard, especially under acceleration, and sounds ‘buzzy' and uncomfortable at higher revs. At lower speeds it's a lot smoother and, like the diesel engine, there's an improved take-off feel – both engines benefit from the new six-speed automatic.
We didn't get a chance to drive the American-designed and built 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, but a full review is planned later in the year.
Handling-wise the biggest improvement is the steering. Previous models were light and uncommunicative, but the new variable-assist steering rack has gone a long way to improving things.
Finally, the Captiva, with stiffer springs and roll bars, feels more at home outside the school zone. The Captiva still isn't the sharpest mid-size SUV in the pack, but it's getting there.
|Model||Captiva Series II|
Good looks inside and out
Despite significant improvements
|Country of manufacture||Australia|
|Available from||March 2011|
|Priced from||$27,990 (+ ORC)|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2.4, 2.2 & 3.0 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||123, 135 & 190 kW @ 5600, 3800 & 6900 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||230, 400 & 288 Nm @ 4600, 2000 & 5800 rpm|
|Claimed fuel consumption||8.3-11.3 L/100km|
|CO2 Emissions||213-268 g/km|
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