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Exclusive: Holden Captiva 7 goes under knife again

Plastic surgery: A new face with LED daytime running lights and a fresh grille are among the changes to a revised Captiva 7 that is expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2016.

With no replacement in sight yet, Holden’s Captiva 7 SUV gets another makeover

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Holden logo22 Oct 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

HOLDEN’S venerable Captiva 7 appears to be getting another makeover to keep the seven-seat large SUV steaming along until a replacement finally arrives.

GoAuto expects the revised vehicle to land in Australian showrooms in the first quarter of next year, kicking off Holden’s 2016 model launch program that will include the all-new Spark light hatch and – later in the year – Astra five-door small hatch.

The South Korean-built Captiva 7 – which turns 10 in January – already has had one major facelift and various tweaks since it was launched in 2006.

Now, when most manufacturers would be looking to introduce a ground-up model change, General Motors’ Australian subsidiary is preparing this updated version of the current model to go around again.

Despite the camouflage on the test mule seen in our pictures snapped outside Holden’s Melbourne headquarters this week, we can spy body-coloured side- and wheel-arch mouldings in place of the current unpainted black units, new headlight clusters incorporating LED daytime running lights for the first time, slim metallic grille bars in place of the black mesh lower grille, similar slim chrome strips replacing the solid chrome bar in the upper grille opening, and a new black rear diffuser in place of the current silver version.

Unless our eyes deceive us, the vehicle sits a little closer to terra firma, perhaps meaning that Holden’s engineers have been reworking the suspension by lowering it for improved handling.

Zooming in on the interior shows that the upper surface of the dashboard seems to be covered by a mat, perhaps hiding a new plastic finish to that area.

The badge on the back of this mule indicates it is the mid-range all-wheel-drive LT. If so, it appears that the side steps and five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels will carry over, on that variant at least.

The appearance of the revised Captiva 7 on Melbourne roads tells us that an all-new replacement is still sometime away, probably no earlier than 2017.

With Holden favouring Opel-sourced vehicles in its new-look range, Europe is the likely source of a replacement when the time comes.

GM CEO Mary Barra has already foreshadowed an all-new unnamed model – thought to be a large SUV – to be built alongside the next Opel Insignia in Russelsheim, Germany, “by the end of the decade”.

That vehicle was described by Ms Barra as GM Europe’s joint flagship with the Insignia large car, and thus could be larger than the current Captiva 7, let alone the five-seat Opel-Vauxhall Antara that does duty as the Captiva 5 in the Holden range.

With Captiva 7 possibly replaced by a large Insignia-based SUV in the mould of Toyota’s Kluger or Nissan’s Pathfinder, an opening might be created for a new mid-sized Holden SUV, possibly based on the Buick Envision that, to date, is sold only in China where it was introduced in late 2014.

An American version of this vehicle reportedly will hit the North American market next year, but it is unclear how many changes it will have over the Chinese original and whether other markets such as Australia will be considered.

Despite its age, the Holden Captiva 7 is still motoring along in the sales stakes, thanks mainly to a sub-$30,000 drive away special edition, the Active.

Armed with an electric sunroof, leather seats, keyless entry and start, fog-lights, rearview camera and free servicing until 2020, the $29,990 driveaway Active last month helped the Captiva 7 to garner 1051 sales, making it the fourth best-selling large SUV on the market in September.

Year to date, Captiva 7 sales are down 7.6 per cent, while Captiva 5 sales are up 12.5 per cent.

Holden’s overall SUV sales this year are up 4.2 per cent, mainly thanks to a healthy contribution of more than 2000 units from the large Colorado 7.

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