Ryan Bubear gets familiar with the Chevrolet Captiva 2.2D AWD A/T LTZ...
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If you think the Chevrolet Captiva in the accompanying photographs looks no different to the facelift version launched in May 2011, you'd be quite correct.
Yes, this latest generation Chevy SUV barged its way onto showroom floors in the middle of last year, but there was one vital ingredient missing from the range: a diesel option. The Captiva was offered with either a 2.4-litre petrol engine in the LT specification or a monstrous 3-litre petrol V6 in the posher LTZ spec (read our review here), but there was no oil-burner in sight. But that's all changed with the better-late-than-never introduction of this diesel model.
The newest addition to the Captiva family is shunted along by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel powerplant, which churns out 135kW at 3800rpm and, perhaps more importantly, a stonking 400Nm at a lowly 2000rpm. It's a surprisingly refined engine, and is pleasantly quiet for a diesel, with an almost charming hint of turbo whistle audible over its muted thrum. The only time your ears are completely convinced that it's a diesel is upon cold starting, where an ever-so-slight traditional diesel rattle is evident.
Thanks to the clever engineer-types at Chevrolet — who appear to have spent plenty of time honing this particular engine's internals — the Captiva does rather well in the noise, vibration and harshness stakes, pulling off a mighty fine impression of a big petrol unit. And, of course, this efficiency means it's pretty brisk for its size too, seeing off the obligatory 0-100km/h dash in a smidgen over ten seconds, before topping out at 191km/h.
Auto 'box suits diesel lump
Power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission — like the V6 petrol, the diesel is not available with a manual gearbox. This transmission works well with the turbo-diesel — arguably better than it does with the bigger petrol lump — and very little "hunting" is evident out on the road. Gear-changes from second up are all satisfyingly smooth, and sixth gear effectively acts as an overdrive, resulting in suitably hushed highway cruising.
The electronically controlled transmission features automatic gradient braking, which sees it hold a lower gear rather than upshifting should it sense that the hefty vehicle is decelerating or coasting downhill, thus reducing the need for the driver to overtax the brakes.
The folks at General Motors claim a combined fuel economy of eight litres per 100km and a CO2 figure of 212g per km, and this is where the diesel option starts to make sense. The V6 petrol unit is rather thirsty when driven with any degree of enthusiasm, meaning far too much time (and money) is likely to be spent at the pumps. And while the 2.2D is not quite a fuel-sipper, it does remarkably well considering the weight it's tasked with hauling around.
I didn't quite manage to match the quoted combined economy figure — thanks in no small part to a number of short trips and a quite a few frustrating jaunts in traffic — but nevertheless kept the number below the magical ten-mark. Judicious use of the Eco button helped in this regard, preventing the 65-litre tank from being drained too quickly.
There are no exterior details setting the diesel model apart from its V6 sibling — nope, not even badging. Both are available exclusively in range-topping LTZ trim, and both sport the same pavement-dwarfing 19-inch alloys. In fact, park standard examples of the two next to each other, and the only sure-fire way of telling them apart would be to pop the bonnet and peer inside.
Of course, this results in the two models sharing more than just a few attributes. The LTZ spec means leather trim (gear lever, steering wheel and seats), power adjustable driver's seat, climate control, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, automatic anti-dazzle rear view mirror, audio/Bluetooth, rear park assist, sunroof, and roof rails are all standard.
The rear glass opens independently — should you not wish to swing up the lengthy tailgate — and the Captiva again scores highly in the versatility stakes, with seven seats (two pop up from luggage area floor) always handy for those with large families. You get the same, spacious interior, same comfortable ride, same easy-to-use electronic hand-brake, and same speed-sensitive steering.
They say it's what's under the hood that counts, and in this case, it's the only difference between the two models. As with Chevrolet's other Captiva models, the diesel comes standard with a five-year or 120 000kim warranty, and a three-year or 60 000km service plan.
The Chevrolet Captiva 2.2D AWD A/T LTZ (yes, this mouthful is its official moniker) is well positioned between the cheaper, lower-spec 2.4-litre petrol Captiva and the more powerful, but heavy-drinking, V6 — a best of both worlds, if you will: power and economy.
It may have been intended to simply bolster the Captiva range, but the diesel option has turned out to be the pick of the bunch.
[For a more detailed look at other aspects of the Captiva, read our original review]
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