It has been some two years since the Chevrolet Captiva SUV was launched here. And over that same period of time, it remains quite a rarity...well, if you were to compare it to the amount of Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s on our roads anyway.
So to add more variety to the Captiva range here locally, Chevrolet introduced to us a diesel-engined version of their reliable SUV.
There were mixed reactions when it was brought in here - honestly, in all scepticism, who would want to own a diesel passenger vehicle here?
But Chevrolet decided to play it smarter, and in order to attract buyers and put more diesel-powered cars onto our roads, promise potential customers a road tax rebate...no, not by the government, silly - but by Chevrolet itself.
And we have to say it's a brave move on Chevrolet's end to pursue such a thing. This is why we decided to make it our Featured Road Test for this month. If Chevrolet is brave enough, then it must be good...
The Ed thinks...
Mention "diesel", and the first thing that comes to mind of the average driver include taxis and goods vehicles. Come to think of it, there's no way you can blame ‘em - after all, our government is making ownership of diesel cars a tough choice. Additional road tax, bla bla bla...you get my drift.
Now I hope I don't sound like a diesel advocate, but I just can't come to terms with the fact that we are, locally, not given an opportunity to really appreciate diesel. Diesel engines of today have come a long way from being your typical soot-blowing, cough-causing mechanics, to emission-abiding and even environmentally-friendly movers.
And I think this has been repeated countless times - think of diesel as a cheaper and more powerful alternative to petrol-driven cars. Heck, a litre of diesel is still cheaper than a litre of unleaded 95 anyway.
Back to the Captiva - it's almost unheard of for a local distributor to enter a new market sector and at the same time, provide carrot - a seven-seater diesel SUV? With courtesy road tax rebate to boot? Wow. Mind you, Chevrolet has, in effect, introduced two cars to pull of this coup (there's also a diesel Epica sedan, available on indent basis).
Under the bonnet of the Captiva lies a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel lump which is good for 146bhp and 320Nm worth of torque (in contrast, its petrol driven version is 12bhp and 100Nm down). Paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission, it goes from zero to 100km/h in a mere 12.2 seconds. And that remains respectable, considering it has 1,835kg to lug around.
It's obvious from the Captiva's jacked-up ground clearance and go-anywhere looks, that it is every inch a classy off-roader. Although it may not be able to match the mud-plugging abilities of a Land Rover Discovery, its four-wheel drive system and a host of driving aids - Hill Descent control, Traction Control and ABS with EBD - ensure that the Captiva is capable of coping with anything most owners are likely to throw at it.
A spacious cabin, a decently-sized boot, solid build quality and driver and passenger airbag make the big Chevy the ideal family transport. Throw into the mix an incredibly flexible seven-seat layout that allows you to convert the Captiva into a makeshift Vito van in the blink of an eye, and it is abundantly clear that this is a winner of an SUV.