Captiva makes light work of Coromandel's wild waters
Tough day no trouble to this SUV, writes Mathieu Day
We all have our own automotive traditions. For me it's spending long weekends away from the big smoke enjoying more interesting parts of the country.
After all, a few days away from the grind is always a good thing. In all likelihood though, the weather won't play ball, family members will ratchet up the annoyance level, and you'll eat, drink and be far too merry and suffer the consequences a few hours later.
When fleeing town in a Holden Captiva 7 on a long weekend all those boxes were ticked -- and a few more.
Holden's popular mid-sized SUV faced a tough challenge tackling the flood-prone Coromandel after a torrential downpour and a high tide.
The Captiva has been a strong seller for Holden in recent years, now plugging the gap between the small urban focused Trax and the large Colorado.
Jumping in the leather driver's seat you can see why.
With a spacious interior including foldaway sixth and seventh seats in the boot -- which would be great for the kids, or tall friends who need a bit of road trip punishment -- leather seats complete with seat warmers, cruise control and an integrated touch-screen media centre, the Captiva is a nice place to find yourself on a long journey.
The interior of the Holden Captiva 7 Active. Photo / Ted Baghurst
The only slight annoyance with the interior was the incredibly bright dash instrumentation -- while driving in daylight the screen looks fantastic and it's incredibly clear, however, driving in the pitch black and trying my best to not send the Captiva off the side of the brilliantly twisty State Highway 25, the dash instrumentation was reflected noticeably in the driver's window. That normally wouldn't be too much of a distraction, but with the lighting turned down as much as possible it was still brightly lighting the driver's window and that's not at all helpful when you're trying to negotiate a tight right hander in the dark.
But that was the only negative in an otherwise fantastic interior environment.
Externally the Captiva 7 Active is hard to tell apart from the regular LTZ, apart from subtle differences such as the brilliant white paint on top of gloss black 18-inch wheels which gave it an air of glamour compared with lower-specified versions.
The Captiva has a few different engine and driveline configurations, with a 2.2--litre turbo-diesel with 135kW/400Nm, 2.4-litre petrol with 123kW/230Nm and a 3-litre petrol chugging out 190kW/288Nm and putting power to the ground through either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The Captiva 7 Active Driven tested had the big 3-litre V6 with all-wheel drive.
Holden Captiva 7 Active. Photo / Ted Baghurst.
Having an SUV with AWD on this trip was a godsend, as typically Murphy's Law came into play and just 2km from our destination we found the road under at least 30cm of water, with signs that the water had been much higher and with what appeared to be half Coromandel's bush stuck in the roadside fences. A rather strong current pushed debris across our path and in my rather tired condition at this point I may have even seen a rubber duck floating across the road, although my partner assures me I saw anything but that.
With no low range to speak of -- the Captiva is angled at the urban family rather than the off-road warrior -- it was a nerve-racking experience to inch the big SUV into the water.
The Captiva's ride height essentially saved the trip, fording our way through with the water just covering the side boards in the deepest parts of the submerged road.
With the torrent of water in the rear view we arrived at our, thankfully, dry destination on top of a hill far away from the flooded river which had almost blocked our path just minutes before.
A noticeable offshoot of that petrol V6, however, is the slightly thirsty fuel consumption, with the media centre reporting a best consumption of 11.4 litres for 100km.
I would have preferred to have seen a figure closer to the claimed 10.l/100km but for the person likely to buy the seven-seat Captiva, fuel economy will be slightly down their list with the comfortable seating capacity, great interior space, excellent styling and, in the case of the V6, a two-tonne braked towing capacity, probably being placed higher.
With the ability to get you to your destination when a station wagon surely would drown means the Captiva, starting at $49,990, isn't a bad choice if you're after an urban tractor to get the family around.