Holden’s had several stabs at the SUV market, with the Drover, Jackaroo and the Captiva. Available in five and seven seat configurations and with diesel and petrol powerplants, the Captiva has struggled manfully in a crowded market. However, in order to be relevant, you have to keep up. A Wheel Thing has a slightly longer look at the Captiva (in this case, the midrange 7 seater LT V6 petrol) and comes away wondering just when it will reach 2014.
The current model has been around for a couple of years now and externally still looks ok. The LT tail light clusters have a touch of Kia about them, with LEDs backlighting a solid piece of plastic insert. A bluff, almost LandRover Freelander front end is inoffensive enough, with a solid looking profile in between. Under the high set bonnet is a 3.0L petrol engine, the same as found in the Commodore Evoke. There’s just 288 torques on offer and they’re at a stupidly high 5800 revs. With a weight of 1900 kilos to move around, it takes a fair amount of effort to get the Captiva rolling. With a prod of the go pedal, there’s a lot of noise from the front, a feeling of slipping clutch as the acceleration expected fails to materialise. It certainly doesn’t do any favours for fuel economy, with Holden’s claimed figure of 10.1L combined threatened by A Wheel Thing’s average of well over 12L/100…
The brakes have little bite initially, needing the stop pedal to be given a firm shove before they actuate and grip and there’s not a lot of that unless the pedal goes down further.
Ridewise it’s decent enough however the front suspension feels as if it will rip the front struts out when travelling at around twenty km/h over one of the broader style speed humps. That’s a concern especially given its soft road ability; having said that it’s exceptionally unlikely that it would see any dirt other than a front yard. On the tarmac it’s compliant enough without being spectacular, holds on well enough with the compromise tyres (235/5518s on alloys) when pushed with the torque splitting differential throwing grunt rearwards on demand. From standstill, as mentioned, it takes time to get going but does respond reasonably well when under way via the six speed auto. The exhaust is muted but there’s noise from the engine bay when pushed otherwise it’s a silent drivetrain.
When you step inside it’s as if time has stopped somewhere in the 1980s; black, slabby plastics; bland dash dials; dot matrix displays, no reverse camera on the LT and an uninspiring print for the seat cloth. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s beyond belief that some of the details used are still in place. At least the rear seats are easy to raise and lower.
With Holden having sourced a lot of its vehicles from Korea over the last decade or so and with local manufacturing winding down in a couple of years, it remains to be seen whether Holden will continue down the Korean path or look at a European source. There’s certainly a need for a more modern entry, especially when there’s the likes of Mazda’s CX-5, the Kia and Hyundai entries and even the VW Tiguan. There’s driveaway pricing in place with Holden’s range, check out: http://www.holden.com.au/cars/captiva-7 for info and pricing.