Chevrolet Captiva captures the spirit of the age
The appeal of a vehicle like the Chevrolet Captiva is that it will fulfill its duties on the shopping run one day, it will then take half the football team to the match the next day, followed by some off-roading or a trip onto the beach on the weekend.
It is that kind of modern versatility and can-do attitude that encapsulates the spirit of a car like the Captiva, and why it is expected to appeal not only to family motorists but to anyone seeking an alternative to the conventional sedan or hatchback, a vehicle which says something about their lifestyle.
Wayne Brannon, Chevrolet Europe's president and managing director, believes now is an excellent opportunity for the new Captiva to make further inroads into market share. "The new model is very much a car of the times, designed for families and their everyday requirements yes, but also for those looking to go out and have some adventures. That's what an SUV like the Chevrolet Captiva is all about, it makes a statement and for many it's an extension of their lifestyle. The new Captiva also personifies what the Chevrolet brand is all about in that it transcends social status or profession and will, we think, appeal to people from all walks of life."
Across Europe, Chevrolet Captiva has sold around 120,000 units since the end of 2006, with its popularity not restricted to one region; strong sales have been recorded in Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey, France and the U.K. The popularity of the SUV segment shows no signs of abating; back in 2005, it represented 6.2% of the total European market, while at the end of October 2010 its share of the market had rocketed to nearly 10%. In Western and Central Europe, the segment represents 9% of all sales, in line now with both the mid-size and mini car sectors, which only a few years ago would have eclipsed SUV sales.
Few can deny the handsome profile and confident stance of the current Chevrolet Captiva, still looking as fresh and modern as the day it was launched - until perhaps you see the new Chevrolet Captiva, an example of an already strong design being honed in all the right areas to ensure it has a more dynamic presence, but without losing any of the original Captiva design essence.
Taewan Kim, GM Vice President of Design, in charge of the Captiva project: "The key ingredient of the new design that you see with Captiva is confidence. The changes we have made to the front profile give the new Chevrolet Captiva an even more athletic stance and strong overall character. We wanted to ensure that we lost none of the spirit of the original model, while giving it a stronger and more sophisticated appearance. Captiva has presence but without looking overly big; it looks capable but also compact."
A number of features are immediately noticeable when viewing the new Captiva from the front. The dual-opening grille has become one of the Chevrolet signatures, and there is no mistaking its intention on Chevrolet Captiva: significantly larger than on the outgoing model, it looks distinctive and progressive with its unique flattened honey-comb texture and chrome surrounds, lending the new model an almost high-performance car feel.
Sitting in the center line between each grille is the prominent family Chevrolet bow-tie, ten percent larger than before and finished with a grained, gold surface.
Just above the grille, Captiva's aluminum hood is all new, its concave and sculptured lines also designed to make the front profile more aggressive and powerful. Working in tandem with the new hood, the headlamps take on a more purposeful shape while the cylindrical, prism-type lamps, housed inside the casings, look high-end and modern.
The area around the front fog lamps in the lower section of the front bumper has received a lot of attention, so that the fog lamp outline now runs seamlessly into the skid plate, which gives the whole front a more unified look.
The designers also refer to the 'character lines' incorporated into the new shape front bumper. They have been cleverly shaped so that they sweep into the body sides which not only adds to Chevrolet Captiva's more aggressive character at the front, but also contributes to the overall stance when viewing the new car in profile as the line rises toward the rear of the vehicle.
Sporty, muscular profile
Moving round to the front fenders, the side air-vents have been re-shaped and now take on a more angular shape to emphasize the new Captiva's sporting intentions. They are positioned in line with the rising shoulder line which runs along the profile all the way to the rear light cluster and gives the new Chevrolet Captiva its overall stance.
Captiva's front fenders now also have re-sculptured and more muscular wheel arches - complete with rugged protective moldings - and are able to accommodate increased wheel sizes of between 17 to 19-inches. The 19-inch wheel comes as standard fitment with top of the range models, but all Captivas come with generously sized alloy wheels which have attractive, rugged five or six-spoke design.
A number of detail features contribute to give the new Chevrolet Captiva an upscale look, such as the chrome strip that runs along the bottom edge of the windows and the turn signals integrated into the exterior wing mirrors, now a standard feature. Judiciously applied 'brightwork' has also been applied around the upper and lower grille surround, the fog lamp bezels, side body moldings and front fender vents. Depending on the trim, the Captiva comes with black roof-rail and body-colored door handles, or silver roof-rails and door handles.
Chevrolet Captiva's characteristic kink in the C-pillar remains and along with the shape of the rear side window and the raked roofline, give the Captiva a coupe-like appearance toward the rear.
Regarding the new Captiva's profile, Taewan Kim said: "Viewing the new model from the A-pillars back, the Chevrolet Captiva essentially retains its handsome silhouette. All of the design changes to the front are harmonious with the profile and contribute to a stronger, more athletic stance. They ensure the new Captiva has a look that is immediately recognizable as a member of the same Chevrolet family as Spark, Cruze and Orlando."
The rear of the new Chevrolet Captiva remains as it was, defined by a large rear tailgate with its split tailgate glass that opens independently; the large vertically shaped tail lamps with their internal circular shaped indicators and reversing lights; the exterior SUV-style tailgate hinges; the twin left and right hand exhausts and a prominent silver skid plate.
Finally, setting the Captiva's body off perfectly is a new range of exterior colors.
Climbing aboard the new Captiva, the first impression is one of abundant light and spaciousness. It's a quality that has always been there with the Chevrolet Captiva, but now and in tandem with the enhancements to the exterior design, the interior's ambience has been taken up several notches in terms of quality and functionality.
It is still available with five or seven seats and with storage space that is among the best in class. The Captiva's new upgraded interior now features an array of new finishes and textures, taking the new model up-market in feel and look.
A number of the elements found in the cabin have recently been introduced on other new Chevrolets, to ensure the best of the family DNA runs consistently through the model range, while one or two others, like the electric park brake for example, are the kind of premium feature normally reserved for higher end vehicle segments.
Of the characteristics that can be found on other new Chevrolet interiors, one of the key signatures is the dual-cockpit design and wrap-around front fascia, something that is well illustrated inside the Captiva. The Corvette-inspired dual cockpit lends the cabin a natural symmetry, while the wrap around fascia, which flows from the dash into the top sections of the driver's and front passenger doors, gives the front of the cabin a seamless, unified look.
GM Vice President of Design Taewan Kim, explains what the design team wanted to achieve with the new Chevrolet Captiva's interior environment: "In taking a fresh look at the interior the aim was to offer a blend of high end sedan comfort combined with the spacious ambience and practicality associated with an MPV. We have achieved this by use of superior textures and finishes combined with the distinctive Chevrolet wrap-around interior of the instrument panel; at the same time the abundance of storage and the versatile packaging offered by the five or seven seats emphasizes Captiva's space and practicality."
Perceived quality improved
The perception of quality in the cabin has been significantly enhanced with the new Captiva. A raft of upgrades which may seem minor individually, when taken as a collective add up to a major overhaul, which takes the Chevrolet Captiva much more up-market.
Taewan Kim says:"The use of new and different finishes such as metallics and brightwork convey a sense of richness but also give the new interior a sense of width and spaciousness. They bring out some of the details, such as the switches, while giving the cabin a more upscale feel. Customers will feel they are getting great value for money when they see the new interior and its appointments."
Particular examples of this include the new seat fabrics, the satin chrome rings which accent the cabin vents which have been re-shaped for better ventilation and de-misting performance, the horizontal trim which runs the full width of the interior between the lower and upper instrument panel and the re-designed more premium gearshift lever.
In line with Chevrolet interior DNA, the interior illumination in the control faceplates is now a crisp, high-tech ice-blue while the analogue instrument cluster itself has also been modernized.
The center stack features a new digital clock while new switches for the heated seats are re-positioned at the base of the infotainment display for better ergonomics. Switches for the electric wing mirrors and headlamps have also been re-positioned for easier and safer reach for the driver.
The center console has been given a facelift with new vinyl surfacing and interior finish; it has also been repositioned marginally lower than previously - and is slightly longer - to improve the position of the armrest.
Practicality and versatility are still there
Practical considerations have not been lost amid the drive for better quality and finish. Consequently, the new Captiva's cabin is as functional as it is attractive, with storage to cater for the increasingly diverse demands of today's motorists.
Its reputation as one of the more versatile SUVs on the market is retained with the continued availability of a seven-seater version, whereby the additional two seats are accommodated in theater style seating across a third row. Access is straightforward as the second row can be easily folded forward and tumbled. When the third row of seats isn't required, it can be folded virtually flush, producing a cargo volume to the second row of 769 liters (477 liters below window line). By folding flat both the second and third rows the cargo area is increased so that it is one of the most voluminous in the compact SUV class at 1,577 liters (942 liters below window line). Even with the third row of seats in place, the Chevrolet Captiva maintains a useful 97 liters of available space.
A significant area has been opened up by the fitment of an electric park brake, the switch for which is placed at the base of the center console. Full use has been made of the rear console space as a result, including the integration of dual cup holders that slide underneath the console armrest to reveal a further storage compartment.
Further storage includes pockets to the back of the front seats, large compartments in the doors and on models with LT or LTZ trim, a drawer beneath the front passenger seat.
New Captiva retains its generous interior dimensions; shoulder room in the first and second row of seats is 1455 mm while leg room is 1036 mm in the front and 946 mm at the rear; headroom is 1026 mm in the front and 1017 mm in the rear.
The Captiva comes with Aux-in and Bluetooth connectivity with commands integrated on the steering wheel as standard, as well as a USB port offered with the 7 inch screen navigation system.
Sound quality inside the cabin has been improved, as the audio speakers have been re-positioned in the doors and a raft of engineering improvements to the interior acoustics - including on the windshield, doors and headlining - have resulted in reduced road, wind and engine noise.
Two 2.2 liter turbo diesels with high pressure common rail fuel injection
Customers who opt for one of the turbo diesels, can be sure of getting the latest in technology and efficiency. The new 2.2 liter engine will be offered in two power outputs, of 163 or 184 hp.
This latest generation engine is an advanced, four cylinder double overhead cam turbocharged unit, featuring a high pressure common rail fuel injection system and variable geometry turbo charger (VGT) with intercooler. A reduced compression ratio when compared to previous generation diesels has enabled the new Chevrolet Captiva to achieve higher power output but with lower emissions. The engine's CO2 levels are below key CO2 taxation thresholds which translates into potential savings for customers.
A new DOHC cylinder head design for the 2.2 turbo diesel increases air flow and variable swirl to reduce engine knock to a minimum, while also improving performance and reducing diesel particulates. The engine is also fitted with a diesel particulate filter, maintenance free for its lifetime, and meets Euro 5 emission standards.
Captiva's common rail fuel injection system works at a high pressure of 1800 bar, ensuring precise injection control and quality within the combustion chamber, to maximize fuel economy and reduce emissions.
A number of steps have been taken to maximize engine refinement and keep engine noise intrusion in the cabin to a minimum. These include the fitment of balance shafts integrated into the oil pump, while a dual mass flywheel eliminates rattle from the gearbox and low frequency resonance. The engine block has also been stiffened to improve noise and vibration characteristics further.
Both of the diesel engines have near identical technical specifications, essentially differing only in engine output and torque. For the higher powered version maximum power is 184 hp at 3800 rpm while maximum torque of 400 Nm is achieved at just 2000 rpm; the second version has a maximum engine power of 163 hp at 3800 and torque of 350 Nm at 2000 rpm.
Performance figures for the new Captiva using the lower output 163 hp engine and manual gearbox are a 0-100 km/h time of 9.9 seconds and maximum speed of 189 km/h, while for the 184 hp version 0 to 100 km/h is 9.4 seconds while it can reach a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
In-gear acceleration times are an impressive 9.6 and 11.6 seconds respectively, between 80 and 120 km/h in 5th gear.
Fuel consumption for both versions on a combined cycle is an identical 6.4 liter/100 km. Emissions are also identical at 170 g/km.
Manual or automatic - it's six-speed all round
Complementing Chevrolet Captiva's new powertrains is a new six-speed automatic transmission. The new auto box can be used in full automatic mode, or if the driver prefers, Driver Shift Control (DSC) allows for manual shifting when the mood takes.
Two versions of the new automatic transmission have been developed, one to be mated with gasoline and all-wheel drive offerings and the other with the diesel engines, as each is designed to handle different levels of engine torque. Automatic is available as an option on all engines and comes as standard with the 3.0L DI VVT V6.
One of the great advantages of the new automatic is that it has enabled much more compact packaging than previously, as the entire powertrain unit is now much shorter fore-to-aft. This allowed the engineers to enhance crumple zones, increase interior space and lower the hood line.
The new automatic has been engineered with a wide spread of gear ratios to optimize the correlation between performance and fuel economy. So while first gear is 'steep' to enable fast take-off, a tall sixth gear lowers engine revs at higher speeds, maximizing fuel and reducing internal noise and vibration.
Standard supply in most markets for the new Chevrolet Captiva will be a six-speed manual gearbox, available with the 2.4 liter gasoline and 2.2 liter diesel engines.