What is it?
The Captiva is an all-new model from Chevrolet aimed at the burgeoning £20k soft-roader market. It's an alternative to the ubiquitous Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. And, if you tick the right box on the options list, it'll even come with seven seats.
What’s it like?
Sharply-styled and with a well-built, fresh-feeling cabin, the Captiva is the best-looking of Chevy’s current model range and a clue to much more competitive models coming from GM’s Korean outpost in the next few years.
Maybe the plastic body cladding and wheel arches won’t be to everyone’s taste, but they add some toughness to the well proportioned styling.
The model range is concentrated around a single engine, a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel making 148bhp. A 134bhp 2.4-litre petrol engine is the only other option, and that’s limited to a sole entry-level model available with front-drive and five-seats only, but priced attractively at £16,995.
The Captiva’s secret weapon is a smooth-shifting, five-speed auto ‘box mated to the diesel engine, still an unusual combination. The first boatload of Captivas will shortly land in Britain and a third of the shipment are mid-spec diesel autos, making it the best-selling model, despite the slightly stiff-sounding £22,320 list price.
Like the majority of soft-roaders, the Captiva is predominantly front-drive, only shifting drive to the rear axle when the going gets very slippery.
On road grip and chassis balance are good and the steering is nicely-weighted around the straight ahead, although feel melts away on turn-in.
The diesel engine, co-developed in Korea with Italy’s VM Motori, delivers a smooth and refined rush of power, concentrated in the mid-range where most oil-burners are strong.
Its weak point is turbo lag; there's a sudden drop off in urge as the rev needle drops below 1500rpm, meaning that an inconvenient change to first is needed in slow corners if progress isn’t to be dulled completely.