Price: £30,295 (Captiva range starts at £21,995)
Top speed: 124 mph
0-60mph 9.3 seconds
Consumption: 42.8 mpg
CO2 emissions: 174 g/km
Rivals: Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Vauxhall Antara
When Chevrolet’s Captiva appeared in 2006, it was a sound design but one that lacked polish. It was a product of the former Daewoo operations in Korea that had been acquired by General Motors, and was one of the first cars from that stable designed to appeal to a broader international audience. With modifications, it was sold in large numbers around the world under a variety of GM brands, including Vauxhall, which offers a version as the Antara.
The first Captivas combined a modern, roomy, not unattractive body with a disappointing interior that was designed to appeal more to American and Asian, rather than European, tastes. In dynamic terms, they were broadly competitive, but the initial engine line-up couldn’t match the best European efforts.
Now Chevrolet has brought in a revamped model with a series of updates that address these former weak points - and it has done a good job. A restyled nose with a fashionable deep grille gives a fresh, sharper look but it is the under-the-skin improvements that are most important. The revised Captiva’s interior reflects the progress Chevrolet has made since 2006 with the cabins of the mid-sized Cruze saloon and the Orlando people carrier; Euro-tasteful dark greys and blacks replace the lighter shades that were previously seen, and the quality of the materials used seems to have had a bit of a lift as well.
The Captiva now has an all-diesel engine range. There are two 2.2-litre power units, one pushing out 163 horsepower, which is fitted to the cheaper two-wheel drive versions, and a second, producing 184 horsepower, which is used in the more expensive variants which have an “on-demand” all-wheel drive system; that compares with the 150 horsepower provided by previous Captiva diesels. Variable geometry turbochargers, already familiar from the Cruze and the Orlando are also employed here, with impressive results; the more powerful of the two Captiva diesels, at least, is strong and smooth, and closes the gap with the competition. Transmission options are a six-speed manual, available on all variants, and a new six-speed automatic that can only be ordered in conjunction with all-wheel drive. Chevrolet is also playing up the role of testing at Millbrook (originally built as GM’s UK development facility) in optimising the Captiva’s ride and handling set-up for British conditions, a nod, perhaps, to the widely-held but unproven belief within the industry that our roads are uniquely terrible and that cars developed for other countries can’t necessarily quite cut the mustard here.
One minus: Chevrolet, despite its long history in the US, is still an emerging brand in Europe, but the Captiva is not especially cheap. At the top end, prices for the best-equipped models with LTZ trim break the £30,000 barrier, a level at which some (admittedly mainly smaller) SUVs with fancier badges are available. On the plus side, though, the Captiva does offer pretty generous equipment levels.
The upgraded Captiva doesn’t offer anything like the sort of excitement promised by Chevrolet’s forthcoming electric vehicle, the Volt, and still isn’t quite as complete or well-rounded a car as the current pick of the company’s range, the Orlando, but it nevertheless represents good solid progress.