Alan Candy’s road test: Chevrolet Captiva

WORLD domination maybe putting it a bit too strongly. But certainly the refreshed new version of the Captiva is aimed at making Chevrolet more of a global brand.

Five years on from when Captiva first laid tyres on our tarmac, there are two new engines coupled to equally new manual and auto six-speed transmissions, a more aggressive exterior makeover, upgraded interior and more electronic extras.

And as you’d expect, the Chevy isn’t backward about coming forward.

The bull-nosed beast features the now familiar giant split grille and eye-catching gold bow-tie badge, wheel arches bulge impressively and there’s enough ground clearance to make it awkward for your mum to climb in.

Refreshingly, the giant SUV Captiva sports sleek horizontal headlamps rather than some of the over-stylised offerings we get on most vehicles nowadays.

And the interior is just as dramatic with a big stack of on-board equipment and lashings of matt silver finish – it’s eye-catching but unfortunately the grille atop the fascia reflects constantly in the windscreen day or night, which can be annoying.

Chevrolet would be wise to switch to all-black, which would not only be classier but surely more practical.

Despite the amount of toys to play with, Chevrolet has done a decent job with the ergonomics so that drivers don’t have to search around too much to find where everything is.

Simple white-on-black dials with aqua marine detailing give a clear readout and Chevy’s classic ‘waterfall’ shaped centre stack cascades down to floor level with cold, computer-like efficiency.

In the centre is an instantly likeable oval digital clock and the CD tuner is not only surprisingly good quality but also mercifully easy to work.

Chevrolet indulges in some sensible space saving with the small tab on the centre console, which replaces the traditional handbrake and releases automatically when you set off.

Fluorescent markings light up the cabin at night, making everything easy to find.

Like the Orlando road tested last week, the Captiva is pleasingly versatile. It is principally a comfortable and roomy five-seater, with the added bonus of two extra occasional kids’ seat which spring easily out of the rear floor when needed.

Don’t expect adults to make themselves at home here, as there just isn’t the knee room.

With all seats folded down (the centre trio weigh an absolute ton but still convert easily) there is a vast amount of luggage room on board, plus the added benefit of a bumper-level floor, so that the vehicle can be swept out easily and accommodate goods on and off easily.

On the roads, the giant Captiva is more ‘captivating’ than you might expect. The big 2.2 diesel engine is certainly a delight, being remorselessly quiet, even when under strain to the rev counter red line.

Always well mannered, it purrs along contentedly – yet it can be deceptively quick if you need a quick burst of speed. The new six-speed auto box is a success, with changes sneaking in and out virtually unnoticed and there’s a sequential mode if you want more manual input.

Captiva is essentially a laid-back ride, so don’t expect to fling it around corners or push it too far in performance driving.

Steering needs little input and does most of the work for you but it lacks some feel.

Cornering is secure and tidy provided it isn’t taken to extremes, as the tall body shape tends towards body lean. From a comfort point of view, the Captiva excels, with huge padded fabric and leather seats and the ability to ride road humps as if they hardly exist.

With the option of on-demand all-wheel-drive transmission and a vast amount of standard equipment that includes cruise control, rain-sensitive wipers, dusk sensor light control and sat nav, the Captiva is fully equipped to serve as a popular and versatile family cruiser.

Hard to ignore, it’s on track to rack up sales for those seeking something away from the mainstream.

Fast facts

> Chevrolet Captiva LTZ, £26,825 (Captiva prices from £16,975).

> Powered by 2.0 VCDI turbo diesel engine developing 150ps @ 4,000rpm.

> Performance: 0-62mph in 11.3 secs (manual); top speed 113mph.

> Combined fuel consumption 38.2mpg.

> Standard equipment includes cruise control, sat nav, ABS.