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Chevrolet Captiva review

From the inventor of the SUV, Diesel only with two new engines
Chevrolet Captiva review 2011

New 6-speed manual and auto transmissions
More aggressive exterior and enhanced up-market interior
Rating *** out of five

For- proven running gear, nice fit and finish inside and out, five year 100,000 mile warranty
Against- high depreciation, uneconomical, high CO2 automatic

Chevrolet is the world’s 4th largest brand
Chevrolet owner General Motors has just announced impressive quarterly profits of $3.2 billion and as, with annual sales of 4 million Chevrolet is its largest global brand it must take some credit. Chevrolet today is comprised of the USA brand it has always been in addition to what was left of Daewoo in Europe. At the time it seemed a strange concoction but judging by its European market share of 2.5% it is working. Progress in the overcrowded, highly competitive UK market is not quite so encouraging with a fall in market share in 2010 and 2011 year to date. Hopefully the seven new models this year the tide will turn and the brand will begin to achieve the same success here that it has elsewhere.

Another version of the Opel / Vauxhall Antara
Chevrolet claims to have invented the SUV in the 1930s with the iconic Suburban, a name plate which is still around in the USA today 7 decades later. The Captiva, one of the new models has a great deal in common with the Vauxhall and Opel Antara but manages to look different and arguably fresher.

Sharing platforms brings huge benefits with access to an enormous parts bin and the buying power to achieve fit and finish standards far above the price level.

Chevrolet Captiva review 2011The Captiva is usefully available with five or seven seats and with two or four-wheel drive, the two-wheel drive making do with the lower powered 163 PS diesel giving better CO2 although not sufficiently better to affect either road fund licence prices or benefit- in-kind tax.

The Captiva was originally launched in 2006 and marked a turning point for the brand signalling Chevrolet’s intention to aspire to mainstream status in Europe. Sales of 120,000 across Europe over its 4½ year life suggests it has succeeded.

It must have been pretty good back then because there have only been relatively minor alterations and the addition of new engines and 6-speed transmissions and it feels right up to date. Sensibly Chevrolet no longer bothers with petrol engines relying on 163 and 184 hp versions of a well proven 2.2 litre GM diesel. The new 6-speed manual gearbox is excellent but the automatic while smooth and responsive enough in use is not up to the efficiency levels of competitors’ offerings. A combined mpg of 37.8 and CO2 emissions of 203 g/km are not acceptable in these austere times with diesel costing £1.43 a litre.

What’s the point of a 2-wheel drive SUV?
It will be interesting to see how many front-wheel drive versions are sold after last year’s appalling winter. After all, what is the point of having a car that looks like a 4×4 but gets stuck when it turns icy? It is difficult to work out how much you save by going for two-wheel drive as that version is only available in one level of trim, the LS which isn’t available as a 4×4. It certainly makes little difference to co2 and fuel consumption figures.

Chevrolet Captiva review 2011The great benefit of buying a car from a brand trying to establish itself in the British market is that the equipment tally tends to be much higher. The cheapest Captiva, the front-wheel drive LS at just £21,995 comes with Bluetooth, speed-sensitive power steering, folding mirrors, six speaker radio / CD with MP3 compatibility, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat, two piece tailgate, rain-sensing rear wiper, roof rails, 17” alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows and air conditioning.

The 184 hp LT at £27,695 (auto – £29,245) has on-demand all-wheel drive, seven seats, climate control, half-leather trim, solar control glass, rear parking distance sensors, rain-sensing front wipers, automatic lights, automatic dimming mirror, cruise control, leather trimmed steering wheel and gear lever knob.

The top of the range LTZ at £30,295 (auto – £31,845) wants for nothing with full leather, a rather good ‘satnav’, rear view reversing camera, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, 19” alloy wheels, privacy glass and headlamp washers.

Power of the dealers
Chevrolet is not well known in the UK and its sales here are much more down to customer loyalty to a local dealer than would be the case with a mainstream brand. The power of brands such as Ford or BMW is such that people want to buy them and will find an outlet at which to do so. In the case of a low awareness brand such as Chevrolet the customer often trusts his local dealer and will but whatever brand he happens to sell and recommends. Daewoo achieved some success in the UK with sales of nearly 33,000 annually in 1999 and many Daewoo dealers now sell Chevrolet.

Chevrolet Captiva review 2011

With those seven new models 2011 could be a critical year for Chevrolet in the UK because if it cannot break through with a new model line-up its days are numbered

© Robert Couldwell – May 2011
for publication on Wintons World

 Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 VCDi AWD
Engine:2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel
184 hp @ 3,800
400 Nm @ 2,000
6-speed manual
all wheels
Acceleration:0-62 mph -100 km/h – 9.3 seconds
Top Speed:124 mph-200 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 42.8 mpg-6.6 l/100 km
CO2:174 g/km
Emissions class:
Euro V
Length:4,673 mm
1,878 kg
5-years-100,000 miles
Boot capacity:
477/942 litres
Competition:Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga, Honda CRV, VW Tiguan, Jeep Compass, Vauxhall Antara
For:proven running gear, nice fit and finish inside and out, 5 year 100,000 mile warranty
Against:high depreciation, uneconomical, high CO2 automatic
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