Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Captiva

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THE third row air-cond blower is gutsy and does a good job of keeping passengers cool and sedated even at the lowest setting.

One can also laud the engine as it makes short work of the up-and-down sweepers of old Gombak. One does expect a turbodiesel engine to dish out plenty of grunt at low to midrange speeds as it hauls heavy metal hither and thither.


Here is Chevrolet’s latest push to please shareholders while causing grief to other auto players. Captiva is the name and capturing sales is its mission.

Despite setbacks that have plagued Chevrolet in Malaysia, parent company General Motors cannot afford to overlook the region’s largest passenger car market.

General Motors Asia Pacific president Stephen K. Carlisle, in saying as much, had recently pointed out that “if you want to have a presence in South-East Asia, you have to be here (Malaysia).”

After a lull and a turnaround plan in place, Chevrolet returned with a bang last week with the introduction of an SUV to lead the charge. It’s a name in a hurry to make a big impression, coming out with not just one but four variants of the Captiva.

StarMotoring had first crack at the latest SUV in town.

The Captiva is pitched as a vehicle meant for congested urban driving, long highway journeys and adventures on rough terrain. Well, a little offroading ability gives it some legitimacy but we all know SUVs are not the best equipment to tackle the wilderness.

While observers have said the SUV looks like a mix of influences from various quarters, the design turns out rather well instead of regressing into a Frankensteinian patchwork. Bold lines and taut surfaces make the Captiva look at once sporty, meaty and attractive.

With seats for seven, the 4.6m long Captiva promises a comfortable sedan-like experience combined with the toughness of an SUV.

And tough it is according to Euro NCAP which has found it deserving of a four-star quality rating for occupant protection.

It had undergone over five million kilometres of tests under different road and weather conditions around the world. As many as 450 prototypes were built and tested before the current form was approved for production.

There’s plenty to like about the robust proportions of a much needed model that fills a gap in the Chevy range.

What’s remarkable is that second and third-row seats can be folded flat to the floor in no time with just a tug and push forward. The spare tyre, meanwhile, resides under the SUV to make 930l of interior storage space possible.

A self-levelling rear suspension ensures the back does not sag at full load. The unique system automatically lifts the rear suspension higher when carrying heavy loads so that the body is always level with the road.

Rollover fears are kept in check with safety electronics that can rapidly apply the brakes with strong bursts of pressure to the appropriate wheels to help stop the SUV from keeling over.
The 2.0-litre 16-valve common rail diesel engine makes 150bhp at 4,000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 2,000rpm, injecting a high degree of go in the machinery. The steering offers decent feedback without any surprises.

At idle, the typical diesel noise is audible but becomes muted when the Captiva is moving with fast-flowing traffic.

The engine is mated to a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission and features active on-demand 4WD for a measure of fuel savings when in 2WD mode. When the Captiva encounters slippery conditions, active coupling is automatically deployed to distribute torque to both axles in proportions of up to 50:50.

As the top-end Captiva, the AWD 2.0-litre gets extras that include Electronic Stability Program, hill descent control, traction control and brake assist.

European styling, versatile space, a torquey engine, on-demand all-wheel drive, and self-balancing integration technology work in tandem to bring out the Captiva’s appeal

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