Holden's Captiva audience at long last

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009
DASHING: Holden's first competitive SUV is a handsome model.

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Being without a competitive SUV in the market was a situation Holden could not continue with in the Australian market.

The Australian GM outpost must have looked on enviously at sales lost to models like Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4, and others.

Now, by tapping into GM’s ownership of Daewoo in Korea, Holden can source as many light to medium-weight SUVs as it likes, with the recently introduced Captiva.

It’s a broad-based range of vehicles which eventually has the potential to furnish five to seven seat models with a spread of four cylinder petrol and diesel engines as well as a 3.2-litre version of Holden’s own ‘World’ engine: the Alloytech V6.

Initially we’re only getting the V6, but with the Captiva SX’s entry price at $43,990, the handsome Australianstyled five-door sits right in the territory of many similarlyequipped but mere fourcylinder Japanese offerings, most of which have neither the carrying capacity nor the urge of the new Holden.

Speaking of Territory, the Captiva is not as large as the big Ford SUV, and is not a direct competitor per se.

However I’d predict there’ll be quite a few potential Territory owners on the Captiva’s hit list, with a view for the Holden to offer a cheaper, only slightly smaller option to the albeit very well placed Ford.

We have three Captiva models in New Zealand: the SX, LX and MaXX models, the latter of which is a slightly more sharply-styled sporty five-seater version with a tag of $53,490.

For our road test, the LX was made available and from the get-go, the new Korean-sourced Holden displays remarkable refinement.

The engine’s quiet, there’s no wind noise, not a lot of road clamour and the stock fivespeed automatic transmission is as subtle a ratio-changer as you’ll find anywhere.

It’s also surprisingly quick, with an easy sub 9.5 second zero-to-100kmh being just a matter of squeezing the throttle.

The five-speed auto can be used manually for dirt work, but it’s so intuitive in its operation that most will leave the shift-lever in ‘D’ and have done with it.

The Captiva’s Holden team penned lines make it something of a slightly scaled down BMW X5 from the front and side, with a nicely contrived stance and nice, wheel-arch filling alloys (on all models).

The hatch opens opens completely or as the upper glass only, while once open, it reveals how neatly the third row of seats sits in the floor.

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Even when occupied, there’s room for plenty of soft baggage, and when folded away, the boot area is positively cavernous.

The $49,990 LX is a seven-seater that takes leather, some extra lamps and side vents, seven-spoke alloys, climate control, heated mirrors, eight-speaker 6-CD in-dash stereo, some extra dash and console stowage and a trip computer over the $43,990 SX.

But all Captivas take cruise, air-con, traction and stability control and five-speed automatic as standard, so you’ll not seem underdone if you can’t stretch to the LX and MaXX models.

Interior space is very well utilised, though inevitably third-row occupation is for those of smaller frames or for shorter distances.

Up front, there’s a well laid-out dash, a fine multiadjustable driving position and evidence that GM Daewoo has learned much about the texture and interface of cabin plastics.

The monocoque Captiva rides and handles very well, with a pleasingly incisive turn-in feel and a generally very car-like driving demeanour.

Offroad, the new Holden is as good as most other soft-roaders as they call them.

We’d say the V6 engine is a little short of low-end torque for semiserious bush-bashing, but that will be fixed when the diesel range comes in.

Then, Holden will have moved from having no SUV range at all, to one that will be one of

- Fairfax Media

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