Captiva 5 is a vitally important vehicle for General Motors - that explains why it carries so many names in various markets around the world.
|AT A GLANCE|
|Powertrain: Active all-wheel drive 2.2-litre DOHC four-cylinder common rail fuel injected and turbocharged diesel engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select.|
|Outputs: 135kW at 3800rpm, 400 Nm at 2000rpm, 8.2 L/100km.|
|Chassis: McPherson strut front suspension, independent four-link setup at the rear. Rack and pinion power steering.|
|Safety: ABS brakes, stability control, hill descent control, hill start assist, six airbags.|
|Dimensions: L 4596mm, W 1850mm, H 1717mm, W/base 2707mm.|
|Hot: Extra specification gives this Captiva a luxury feel.|
|Not: Diesel engine noise can be a little intrusive, especially when cold.|
|Verdict: The LTZ with diesel power is quite obviously the pick of the Captiva selection.|
Actually, the Captiva 5 - and it is called that because it has five seats as opposed to seven in the Captiva 7 - used to be called MaXX in New Zealand and Australia.
Well, almost. When Holden first introduced the Captiva in 2006, two choices were offered - the Korean-designed seven-seater, and a luxurious V6-powered, German-designed five-seater called MaXX which retailed for more than $50,000.
MaXX didn't sell particularly well, and was soon dropped from the Holden fleet. But the compact body shell soon returned, only this time the V6 engine power had been dropped in favour of the more acceptable 2.4-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbodiesel engines. And, importantly, they carried price tags that began at less than $40,000.
That made all the difference, and since then the model renamed Captiva 5 has been an important part of Holden's SUV lineup.
But other opposition models will always enter the market to present fresh challenges for any vehicle. One way of dealing with such challenges is to increase a vehicle's specification at no, or little, extra cost.
That's exactly what Holden did with Captiva 5 during 2013 - it bolstered the Captiva 5 lineup by adding a top-specification LTZ model, and at the same time introducing a new-generation six- speed automatic transmission across the entire range.
The new auto, which replaces a six-speed unit that was introduced in 2011, has been calibrated to best suit the Australasian driving preferences. Not only that, but the auto's final drive ratio in the diesel model has been revised for improved top- end performance. The revised Captiva performs well, too. Recently we got our hands on an all-wheel drive 2.2-litre turbodiesel LTZ. The new exterior colour was lovely - Snowflake Pearl - and we enjoyed our time behind the wheel of what is now the most luxurious Captiva in the range.
This LTZ boasts such extras as leather interior trim, heated front seats, eight-way electric adjustability of the driver's seat, 19-inch alloy wheels, and rain- sensing wipers.
The Captiva 5 is a comfortable and roomy SUV anyway, and the extra specification adds to the experience. There is good leg and headroom front and rear, the driver position is very good even though the leather-upholstered seats are quite hard, and cargo volume is 430 litres with all seats in use, growing to 865 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Ride and handling are good. Chassis dynamics were refined some time ago when the Captiva 5 underwent its first facelift, with front spring rates increased for better stability and a larger front stability bar installed to reduce body roll, while rear damper and spring rates were increased and a larger stabiliser bar fitted to improve vehicle balance.
Now larger wheels and tyres have added to that. And the good news is that even though there's considerably more rubber on the road, noise insulation remains fine thanks to acoustic protection.
What I really enjoyed about this Captiva 5 was its engine. A VM Motori-licensed 2.2-litre, four-cylinder direct-injected turbodiesel, it develops 135 kilowatts of power and 400 newton metres of torque, which is sufficient to give the vehicle very flexible performance.
Compared with other new-age diesels on the market, this Holden version is fairly noisy, but there's no criticism of its ease of use. That's both on and off the road too - the vehicle's active AWD system automatically distributes torque depending on the amount of wheel slippage experienced, and the AWD combines with a 200-millimetre ground clearance to give good off-road ability.
But, like most modern-day SUVs, the Captiva 5 is intended more for ordinary motoring rather than mud-plugging, and in that regard it does an excellent job. This is particularly the case with the LTZ, which offers that extra level of specification that many owners now desire.
- Fairfax Media