Model Tested: 2011 Holden Captiva Series II CX Diesel, 2011 Holden Captiva Series II LX V6 Petrol: $39,490, $42,490.
It was around this time five years ago that Holden decided that simply being the ‘Commodore Company’ wasn’t going to cut it any longer.
With sales of the Holden Commodore continuously sliding, Holden came up with a plan to phase out its European products and enter the market with price-point vehicles from their Korean sibling, Daewoo.
Holden will be the first to admit that it was a shaky start with the likes of the Holden Epica and Holden Barina, which once suffered from an abysmal crash rating that saw Holden cop timeless flak from the motoring industry.
Today, Holden is offering products to the market that are not only substantially better than the initial Korean products to hit our shores, they have local engineering input to tailor them to Australian roads and unique conditions.
At the launch of this vehicle only a couple of months ago, I was staggered at the improvement the Holden Captiva Series II has experienced with the likes of engines and gearboxes being the bulk of the improvement.
I spent a week in the top-spec V6 petrol LX and the mid-spec diesel CX.
From the exterior, it’s easy to spot the Series II Captiva in traffic. The front end has been transformed to give the Captiva a very classy and elegant feel. While it never looked awful, the Series II revision gives the car an upmarket feel and offers enough differentiation to justify the upgrade from the Series I Captiva.
The top-spec LX variant features 19-inch alloy wheels to accentuate the car’s position in the hierarchy. The only issue with the impressive looking wheels is the teeny-tiny brakes beneath them. Although they do a great job in stopping the car, they look far too small to be wrapped with 19” alloy wheels.
Both CX and LX model benefit from front fog-lights, while the LX also picks up a chrome strip that encases the fog-light cluster, again making it stand out as the top-spec variant.
The rear end will look familiar to most with all Series II Captiva 7 models picking up clear tail lights and a couple of other very minor revisions.
It’s inside the cabin where the Captiva 7 really shines, especially in top-spec LX form. The interior has been streamlined to offer form, technology and function with minimal fuss.
Featuring a 7-inch touch screen LCD display, the Captiva 7 LX features a DVD player, SD card inputs and satellite navigation. The big screen also encases the car’s reversing camera, climate and parking functions. Best of all, it’s dead easy to use.
The sound system features an eight-speaker stereo that offers heaps of bass and great treble clarity. Auxiliary input, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB input offers extended connectivity to other devices. Unfortunately, the USB input won’t charge your iWhatever device; it will only allow it to stream music.
The mid-spec CX also features MP3 compatibility, auxiliary input, Bluetooth audio streaming and six-speaker stereo, but no USB input.
Storage compartments are strewn throughout the cabin, with the most impressive being the never ending centre console. It feels like it reaches down to the road and extends to the next suburb.
Front and rear leg room in the first and second row is good. Entry and egress is also good, meaning it doesn’t feel like you have to climb into the car.
The third row is certainly oriented toward kids. While an adult could fit in there for short journeys, it wouldn’t be entirely comfortable. Entry and egress for kids is easy as the second row folds and moves out of the way so little tackers can simply climb in. Erecting and stowing the third row of seats is a breeze and is as easy as pulling them up and dropping them down again.
The tailgate features a dual-opening mechanism that allows the driver to either open the glass section or the entire tailgate. Because it opens fairly high, there is an internal grab handle to help close it once you have loaded material into the car. Even with the third row of seats, there is plenty of boot room with a flat floor.
Behind the wheel of the Captiva 7, it feels just like a sedan to drive. Despite the added ride height, it’s no different to any other mid-size sedan on the road. The steering is light and offers adequate feel for this segment and the brakes are responsive and bite down hard when pushed with vigour.
The one thing I immediately noticed in both the CX and LX (and that I didn’t really pick up on during the launch) was the firmness of the suspension. Initially I thought it was the low-profile 19-inch wheels on the LX that were causing the firm ride, but I found the ride on the 18-inch shod CX just as nasty. It literally feels like a HSV GTS with its magnetic ride control on its firmest setting. Every bump and jar on the road is felt, to the point where it becomes very frustrating.
With that said the LX handles extremely well and has next to no body roll when thrown into corners. It feels X5-like in the sense that it grips right to a point beyond where a driver would ever attempt to go. That’s great if you work at the top of a mountain and enjoy driving up and down all day, but bad if you enjoy a soft and supple ride.
The V6 LX I test drove also had a habit of drinking like an Irish soccer fan. With 190kW and 288Nm of torque, the 3.0-litre V6 engine from the Commodore Omega and Berlina is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Holden’s fuel efficiency claim of 11.7L/100km can only be matched if you spend 90% of your time on the highway.
If, like my driving style during the week, you spend an even split between highways and urban driving, that figure sits closer to 12.8L/100km (and that’s being gentle on the throttle). The engine doesn’t offer enough torque for the car’s weight (1.84-tonne) and as a result needs to be revved to move in a timely manner.
If you compare the torque output of the 190kW Captiva 7 to the similarly sized Toyota Kluger, which outputs 200kW and 337Nm or the new Ford Territory, which outputs 195kW and 391Nm of torque, both are able to offer superior fuel consumption, despite both weighing more than the Captiva 7.
The V6 also won’t be available with E85 capability for another year, despite the technology being available on the same engine currently used in the Commodore range.
The four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel Captiva 7 CX I test drove was thankfully more fuel efficient and offered a completely transformed drive compared to the V6 variant. Producing 135kW and 400Nm of torque, the four-cylinder diesel is also mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Off the line, the Captiva 7 diesel offers the fuel entourage of torque from 2000rpm, meaning that acceleration is very brisk, to the point where it even feels sporty.
The gearbox has a tendency to select lower gears too often, instead of using the available torque in the current gear. I get the feeling this is the reason for the comparatively high fuel consumption for the diesel. It officially consumes 8.8L/100km, but the best I could achieve with around 80% highway driving was 9.3L/100km. Compared to similarly sized and priced vehicles such as the Nissan X-Trail, the Captiva 7 consumes around 1L/100km more than it really should in diesel form.
The Holden Series II Captiva 7 range starts from $32,490 with the CX Diesel tested priced at $39,490 and the LX V6 priced at $42,490.
Holden has managed to procure and engineer an impressive vehicle that is only let down by a firm ride and fairly high fuel consumption in V6 form.
If you can live with the firm ride, the Captiva 7 offers exceptional value for money with an impressive diesel option to boot.
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