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Chevrolet Captiva 2.2D LT: the simple ethos

There’s one question I keep getting asked and, wouldn’t you know it, just this morning someone enquired again what the best car was that I drove recently. Without flinching I mentioned the Chevrolet Captiva, which certainly raised an eyebrow or two as it’s not a superb car. So why did I mention a mediocre car?

To deal with the mediocrity of it firstly, the Captiva is an elderly model from the General Motors stable which can trace some of its roots to the defunct Daewoo Motor division. This Korean brand built sensible, ordinary cars and that ethos is still tangible in some rebadged Chevrolets of the present, Captiva included.

Although it shows modern proportions for a mid-size SUV, the ageing design has been tinkered with regularly to keep it fresh. Its most recent injection of youth includes new light clusters all around, various trim items and luxuries inside and out. Touch-screen infotainment with Bluetooth; it’s all here.

The Captiva cabin design is plain and sober; you won’t find crazy shapes or daring contours among the sensible switchgear, soft-touch material and hard plastics. The fit and finish are below par by today’s standards and as another sign of its age, I found the trip computer buttons oddly placed near your right knee.

Initial movements and first driving experiences in a Captiva won’t be encouraging either. The doors don’t thud closed like an Audi, there are no crisp German displays and you’ll search in vain for any sort of extravagance or opulence in here. Oh yes, and the driver’s seat rocks backwards and forwards as you drive.

Shoddy quality then? Besides a few random infotainment system resets, I don’t think so. Below-average quality would be more fitting because nothing fell off, rattled or expired in my week with this Captiva 2.2D LT; and everyone commented on how very spacious and comfortable its seven-seater cabin was.

Even the big and handsome 18-inch alloys fitted to this model couldn’t detract from its relaxing and unstressed driving experience. The Captiva, perhaps as a result of its age, still rides like most family cars used to; before everyone decided that they need 30-inch rims and Formula 1 suspension on the school run.

Equipped with a 2 231cc in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, this 2.2D version can call upon maximum power of 135 kW or torque of 400 Nm. Although it’s a tad noisy (and smelly) at idle, I’m happy to report that this engine’s power delivery and everyday response is excellent – certainly back on par with competitors.

Chevrolet claims average diesel use of 7.8 L/100 km from the 65-L tank and while our weekly average was around 9.5, a bit of effort should certainly reward you with eight or thereabouts. Put your foot down and, besides wet traction issues, a Captiva 2.2D should hit 100 km/h in 9.8 seconds (we got 9.46) and 192 km/h. Not bad…

Fans of snappy dual-clutch gearboxes look away now. This car carries an old-fashioned but oh-so-smooth six-speed “Slush-o-matic”. It lacks paddle shifts but has a tip-shift function; which I ignored. Yet again, like good family cars once had, this Captiva relies on a very stretchy torque converter and slow, butter-smooth gear changes.

If, like me, you’re suddenly feeling a warm appreciation for the old Chevy’s family-friendliness, just wait for the best bit. This sizeable and simple SUV, which doesn’t have costly optional extras, can be yours for a mere R431 300. Pardon the strong language but that’s a HELL of a lot of car for the money!

Included in that price is a 5-year/120 000-km warranty, 3-year/60 000-km service plan and all modern amenities like ABS brakes with EBD and BAS, full stability control with hill assist, power windows and mirrors, six airbags, child locks and ISOFIX anchors, eight speakers and LED daytime running lights; among others.

So what if the cabin lacks quality and the driver’s seat is wonky? So what if the gearbox is relaxed and the badge is sensible? If you want an Audi, buy an Audi. If you want a cheap and cheerful, big and comfy, brawny and economical vehicle which the kids can mess in, say hello to your new car.

- Galimoto Media

Full Speclist
Engine: 2.2 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Kilowatt @ RPM: 135kW
Torque @ RPM: 400Nm
Fuel consumption average: 7.8L/100km (claimed)
0-100 time: 9.8 sec
Top Speed: 192 km/h
List Price: R431 300

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