TO most motoring enthusiasts Sports Utility Vehicles or SUVs are a comparatively recent development in the motoring world but in fact they date back over 70 years according to Chevrolet, writes Bryan Longworth.
For they claim that the American company created the first sports utility vehicle way back in the 1930s with the iconic Sunbeam which is a name that has spanned seven decades and is still going strong in the USA.
They also say that the founder, Louis Chevrolet, would have been proud of the latest SUV from the company, the new Captiva, which has been given a major makeover with a fresh exterior design that has much more street appeal than the previous model.
The Captiva is the latest offering from Chevrolet which is produced in the Far East after the company took over Daewoo and I am sure that old Louis, had he been with us today, would indeed have approved of the Captiva although I am not sure what he would have made of the Daewoo link.
For the new model has a more dynamic appearance especially up front where the large and much bolder grille which reminded me of an Audi gives the Captiva much more showroom appeal.
The cabin has also been upgraded and has a much more up-market appearance especially around the fascia and instruments with quality seating.
My test car was the Captiva 2.2 VCDi AWD LT seven seat with the six speed automatic gearbox costing £29,245 which is around £1,600 more than the six speed manual version.
For owners preferring automatic transmission I can recommend this system which provides smooth changes and very relaxed motoring especially on motorways.
The latest Captiva is powered by a new 2.2-litre diesel engine that provides a smooth and quiet power delivery with a top speed of 118mph, a zero to 62mph time of 9.8 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 36.6mpg.
There is an on demand four wheel drive system which means the car is driven by the front wheels in normal on road driving conditions and when the going gets dodgy as in snow and mud then four wheel drive kicks in.
The LT model as tested is the mid trim range Captiva but standard kit is quite generous and has seven seats which include the two third row seats that are quite spacious and reasonably accessible and when folded offer a completely and extensive load area.
Steering is quite positive but not quite as precise as in something like one of the Land Rover range but otherwise the new Captiva is a tempting SUV.
My Verdict: Captiva now has real street appeal.
Model: Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 VCDI AWD LT automatic.
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel.
Transmission: Six speed automatic.
Top speed: 118mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 36.6mpg.
CO2 emissions: 203g/km.