Friday, 13 September 2013

COLUMN - September 2013

Here is the column I wrote for the September edition of The Local Herald. It has been a busy year so far, with plenty of test cars to keep me occupied. So this month there are two more reviews featured, with the Honda CR-Z sporty hybrid, and the Chevrolet Captiva LT. As always the full reviews for both these cars, as well as heaps of pictures, can be found via the reviews page. Enjoy the column, and be sure to share any thoughts or comments you may have.

This column marks two years since my first piece in the Herald, and time has flown by. I just want to take a short moment to thank Les and the Herald team for putting up with me for this long, and also to you readers who make it all worthwhile. So here’s to the last two years, and all the many more to come.

To mark such an occasion I felt it appropriate to have a good review for you. I shall come onto something in a short while, but for now I offer more of an update. Last year I tested the ‘world’s first hybrid sports car’ in the Honda CR-Z. I rather liked it too. However, at two years old they decided to give it a bit of a rejuvenation, and took the opportunity to improve some of the technology too. I managed to grab one of the updated versions for a week and put it to the test. If you want to read that then go to my website and find it under Honda on the “Reviews” page.

I also have a follow on to last month because I have been testing another seven-seat 4x4 in the form of the Chevrolet Captiva. This car has been around since 2007, and had a major makeover in 2011. It is styled like an American car, but aims to offer European quality for build and finish. That’s a great combination, and on the outside the Captiva is a tough looking beast. The front end is particularly menacing, and this car certainly makes its presence known.

The inside was very nice too. I tested the LT model which is middle-of-the-range, which meant half leather seats and nice-touch plastics throughout the rest of the cabin. The best feature on the inside of the Captiva is the amount of space you get. There is plenty of room even on the third row of seats, and you will never struggle for storage space. Take the cup-holders for example. Press a button and it can slide away to reveal a vast space where your iPod plugs in, as well as enough room for your wallet, house keys, laptop, children and a king size bed.

The engine in my test car was the 184PS version of the 2.2-litre diesel (the base LS model has 163PS) which offers 400Nm of torque. That’s a lot, and coupled to the 4WD means you can tow/carry just-about anything, just-about anywhere you like. My test model had the 6-speed automatic gearbox (6-speed manual is standard) and it was a pleasure to drive. There’s plenty of forward motion and the gearbox drives very well.

The ride in the Captiva is exceedingly comfortable, and at motorway speeds the engine is quiet. There isn’t as much body roll as you would expect either, but the Captiva is let down by vague steering. At times it feels like you’re having to turn the wheel excessively to round the smallest of bends. Other than that I found the Captiva a joy to drive.

The auto ‘box has its effect on economy too. Expect 35.7mpg (44.1mpg from the manual) on a combined cycle, and CO2 emissions of 208g/km (manual 170g/km). That means road tax is £280 (manual £200) and first year rates of £620 and £280 respectively. I’d have the manual…

Overall the Captiva is a great car that scored well. It offers great versatility and endless practicality for all your needs. As always be sure to read the full review on my website.

I hope you’re all still enjoying the summer, and I’ll be back with more next month. I have a lot lined up!

Dan

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