Captiva 5 Is Alive.

The successful “A Month Of Holden” has wrapped up, with the final of the four, the 2.4L manual Captiva 5 (http://www.holden.com.au/vehicles/captiva-5?gclid=CICO6KyyqrMCFYhcpQodlnUAwg) heading back home after a good week on the road.

It’s almost the ideal family car; seats five, roomy enough, comfortable seats, enough boot space for a week’s worth of shopping, cruise control, a reasonably smooth shifting manual (yes, manual, remember them?), hill descent control, hill braking assist and a decent ride. It’s let down somewhat by an unattractive, unergonomic centre dash console, a cruise control switch that gets turned on without the driver being aware and a torque-shy engine.

Let’s check the exterior; the series 2 family of Captiva had a serious design shift, to clearly differentiate between the five and seven seaters, with the seven having a resemblance to the LandRover Freelander. The 5 has a resemblance to a Renault Koleos or Ssang Yong Korando, with the latter having a far more attractive dash and console on the inside. The 5 has a somewhat more pugnacious look with a deep front bar, driving lights and parking sensors front and rear.

The interior is largely unoffensive, with good padding in the seats providing a decent amount of comfort and support. Adjustment is old style, however, using a lever, which makes it just…not….quite…right…to get the seat back angle required. The dash dials themselves are unremarkable, being speedo, tacho and fuel gauge, whilst the centre upright is ergonomically diabolical. The volume button is on the left side, the centre dial controls info on the bland red screen located above the three (three?) central aircon vents while the aircon controls and radio buttons are small, fiddly, hard to read plus the plastic look and feel is somewhat old school. The steering wheel controls are slightly odd, with the rotary dial look (for the volume control) actually being a rocker switch. On the dash itself, the cruise control icon would be on sometimes, as a result of a finger brush with the end of the indicator stalk where the light touch cruise control controls are.

Naturally, none of this takes anything away from the ride and drive. The steering has a “fast” ratio, it feels like, with good feedback through the tiller. Being of the four wheel drive type, even though it’s front wheel drive, the ride quality is absorbent and there’s no noticeable understeer. The 2.4L ethanol compatible engine isn’t exactly a powerhouse, with peak power (123kW) and torque (230Nm) delivered at typical high four cylinder revs (5600 and 4600rpm) so it can need a bit of rowing through the six speed, close ratio, gearbox. On a drive past Lithgow, the final drive ratio gives 2500rpm for 110kmh, nice and comfortably but with any reasonable hill, i.e. Mt Victoria at the western end of the Blue Mountains, needs a drop back to second to get up. Having said that, on the freeway, the car will pull away without staggering in sixth from around 50 kmh.

Boot room in the five seater is decent, with more than enough room for family shopping. After all, the Captiva duo are targeted at families and this does fit the bill. There is a diesel available with an auto, covering all bases.

With current drive away pricing around the $26000 mark, the Captiva 5 is ideal for the family or for the couple that still enjoy shifting their own gears. With an interior freshen up well over due and perhaps some missing torque coming into the equation, that may put some people off but it shouldn’t, as it’s a more than adequate family car. It looks good, has a decent ride, there’s plenty of room and gets a few trick bits of technology.

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