With several upgrades over the last couple of years, GMH’s Captiva series of SUVs just seem to grow more and more appealing to buyers seeking the advantages this style of vehicle offers.
The Korean made Captiva started off as a 5-seater, which, by the look of numbers on our roads, was certainly well received. The range then expanded into a 7-seater with the added attractions of increased luggage and tow capacity on top of the usual SUV high and handsome driving ambience. And then came the Captiva 7.
The present 2014 series is also offering extremely sharp pricing with GMH reducing drive away costs significantly when compared to previous models, and at the same time managing to under cut rivals considerably. In fact, the 7-seater starts at under 30k, which surely indicates just how competitive this sector of the SUV market is at the moment!
Along with a price cut across the entire Captiva range comes a redesigned front grille area, changed exhaust tips and changes to tail lights. None of these modifications are earth-shattering, perhaps more along the lines of making a good thing even better.
Three models are offered in the Captiva 7 range, with either all-wheel or 2-wheel drive options linked to both petrol and diesel power plants. There’s the top of range LTZ with all bells and whistles, the LT and LS, as reviewed which was far removed from a cheap vehichle given the list of standard features.
The engine/transmission of the LS7 was a definite highlight of the driving experience. Mated to a 6-speed auto gear box the 2.2L 4-cylinder common rail diesel engine offered 135kW of power plus 400Nm of torque. Gear changes were seamless, hard to detect thanks to their smoothness, and always exactly when required. A sequential shift is there, but why bother? The overall drive feeling of the 7 was of easy power. I found the all-wheel drive wagon to be quick off the mark, remarkably quiet under way and with easy power for overtaking or towing duties. I gave the smooth diesel full marks. It easily towed our Trek Kudu camper during a trip to the Macintyre River at Goondiwindi, with a quick stop at Lake Coolmunda for lunch and some photos.
Along with enjoying the car’s easy power buyers of the Captiva 7 diesel will be pleased to understand that the engine is designed for long life thanks to an electronically controlled turbo charger plus DOHC cylinder head with chain timed camshaft in lieu of a fibre, one which usually requires replacement at a pre determined interval.
Road manners of the 7 were also a plus. Drive is mainly conferred on front wheels unless slip is detected with the rear wheels also coming into play at that point. As a mainly front wheel drive unit I found the 7’s steering quite sharp, direct, yet light. Also, the height and reach adjustment of the steering wheel were a bonus. Suspension was perhaps a little on the firm side with just two of us aboard, but when loaded with a decent amount of camping and fishing gear the ride became far more compliant. That aside, the Captiva 7 will handle most road surfaces with assurance and can corner remarkably flat, even when pushed on winding surfaces. Road noise was minimal except for a little tyre hum, with the diesel engine virtually unheard once under way.
The Captiva 7’s interior was a mix of fabrics, muted colour, metallic look highlights and sufficient room for all. Although not overly large, the vehicle’s front seats were comfortable on a 4-hour run, with the fabric surfaces offering support and a feeling of warmth. Power operation for most functions was standard as was an electric parking break, climate control air, Bluetooth music and phone streaming, USB input with iPod connectivity, Cruise control, a 4-speaker audio unit offering particularly good music and with the ease of steering wheel controls. The 6 air bags were standard.
Leg room up front was fine, with second row passengers treated to both ample head and leg room although it’s in the rearmost seating department that the Captiva 7 edges out a lot of rivals. Where some vehicles require about 3 different movements, a reference to a hand book , plus a broken finger nail or two to fold down the third row of seats, the Captiva’s finely balanced seats folded down and flat at the lift of a toggle to increase luggage capacity to 465L. Then, with the second row of seats also down in quick smart time (again within seconds) a huge 930L of space with an entirely flat floor is available.
The front passenger’s seat also folds down flat to then offer a magnificent 1565L of space with a 2.7m length available for long objects such as 1-piece rods in their tubes. What’s more, the Captiva’s upward opening tailgate is high enough to make easy loading and unloading.
Safety equipment and functions within the 5-star ANCAP rated include ESC, EBD, Traction Control, Active Rollover Protection, Hill Start Assist, Descent Control System and self-levelling suspension. Fuel capacity is 65L and tow capability is a useful 1500kg for a braked trailer and 500 kg for an unbraked unit.
Drive away price of the Captiva 7 as reviewed was a very modest $29990.Reads: 1385