New Car: 2012 Holden Captiva Series II

Holden has fired the first shot in the medium SUV war by launching its Captiva Series II range at a lower price than the model it replaces -- with seven of the nine models below $40,000.

Australia's biggest selling mid-sized softroader (when Captiva 5 and 7 models are combined) is trying to claim some early ground before the updated Ford Territory arrives in showrooms in April -- as well as undercut Korean rivals from Hyundai and Kia.

Despite extra equipment, a choice of all-new engines and a fresh face, the prices of most Captiva models have been trimmed by $2000 -- but one model has been slashed by $6000.

Large families struggling to make ends meet are potentially the big winners. The starting price of a seven-seater petrol-powered Captiva was previously $38,490 -- but now the cheapest ticket into a seven-seater petrol-powered Captiva is $32,490, making it one of the cheapest medium-sized family SUVs on the market.

There is a slight catch: that particular model now comes with a 2.4 four cylinder petrol engine instead of a V6. But contrary to expectations, the four-cylinder is no slouch and is possibly a better choice than the new V6.

The starting price of the whole Captiva range (the five-seater Captiva 5) starts at $27,990 -- the same as before -- but comes with more equipment.

And, the Captiva 5 is available with a diesel engine for the first time in two years (the diesel was dropped in early 2009 when Holden switched the Captiva Maxx from a premium-price proposition to a more affordable model).

At $33,990 the Captiva 5 diesel undercuts the Hyundai ix35 diesel softroader by $1500 and the Kia Sportage diesel by $1000.

Favourable exchange rates have helped Holden to source the Korean-made Captiva Series II at a sharper price.

"The Captiva was one of the biggest sellers in the segment last year and we don't want to give that up easily," said Holden boss Mike Devereux. "We think we have found the sweet spot in terms of what the customer wants and how much they're prepared to pay. We know this is a tough segment, so we really wanted to drive value."

The Captiva Series II pricing will also put pressure on Ford -- it was hoping to launch the Territory at a premium given the extensive and expensive changes, and new technology.

Holden sold more than 15,000 Captivas last year, by far its best result on record. Meanwhile the Ford Territory -- once the segment leader -- languished with fewer than 12,000 sales. At its peak the Ford Territory notched up more than 23,000 deliveries in 2005, its first full year on sale, but it has been on a sales slide since.

The Captiva Series II is available with a choice of three new engines: a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, a 2.2-litre turbodiesel and 3.0-litre V6 petrol.

The V6 is the same direct injection unit used in the Holden Commodore Omega but the four cylinder petrol and diesel engines are making their world debuts in the Captiva Series II.

The result is a slight improvement in fuel economy (trimmed by between three and six per cent, compared with the engines they replace) and a big boost in performance.

Thanks to: Car Point


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