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Car reviews - Holden - Captiva - diesel 5-dr wagon range

Our Opinion

We like
Brilliantly priced, easy to drive, adequately powerful and quiet, pleasantly presented, better than the V6 petrol
Room for improvement
Captiva still dull, dynamic inferiority to arch-rival Ford Territory

9 Mar 2007

THE most extraordinary thing about the Captiva 3.2-litre V6 petrol is how ordinary it feels.

The South Korean-sourced five or seven-seater mid-sized SUV does not necessarily seem cheaply made there is enough dynamic feedback and response to not warrant any complaints and the styling and overall presentation is pleasantly contemporary.

However, and this is deeply ironic, the Captiva V6 just isn’t captivating at all – not when its most direct rival, Ford’s still-fresh and entertaining Territory, raises the bar so high.

We drove a mid-range Captiva CX V6 automatic for a month, and grew to appreciate its competence and versatility. But we were not upset to see it go at all.

Thinking back about the car, which is like trying to recall the name of the last Telstra operator you spoke to, we did not care for its hefty – but entirely unsurprising – fuel consumption, which – as with all vehicles of this size and specification – often exceeded 15L/100km.

Nor are we enamoured with the Captiva V6’s mid-range performance. It may be sufficient, but you would never call it strong.

There is also a fair amount of engine noise entering the cabin when you mash the accelerator pedal, while some occupants complained that the front seats were too flat.

Now we have the Captiva Diesel with us, starring an Italian-designed, Korean-built 2.0-litre common-rail four-cylinder unit producing about the same performance as the 2.0 TDI engine found in Volkswagen’s Golf.

The seats are still the same. And there is still obvious mechanical noise entering into the otherwise completely functional interior.

But, you know what? It addresses the two main bugbears we have with the Captiva V6 petrol models.

Going diesel promises to slash fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, while there is usefully more mid-range punch when overtaking or extra hauling power is needed.

The five-speed automatic gearbox seems to pair amicably with the adequately refined and responsive powerplant – although you would still not consider entering the Captiva into the 2007 Le Mans 24-Hour race.

Another diesel bonus is that it does not weigh any more than the V6 version, or so says Holden, meaning there isn’t any of the adverse nose-heavy issues that such engine applications normally bring.

So you would be right in assuming we would choose the Captiva Diesel over its V6 petrol brother.

But there is one more thing we need to point out about the newcomer, which is sure to cause a stir among rival manufacturers, as well as change your mind about the Captiva range in general.

Unlike any other car-maker, Holden has priced the diesel version – without any effect on the equipment or specification level – just $1000 over the petrol Captiva.

From today, there finally exists a car-based seven-seater 4WD wagon with an automatic transmission and essential safety aids like stability and traction controls and an anti-rollover device, for under $40,000.

Keen drivers still need not apply. However, for everybody else, suddenly and quite unexpectedly, the Captiva – in diesel guise – raises right above the ordinary.

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