The stakes are high for Captiva, the latest Korean model to wear a Holden badge.
Is it a case of three strikes and you're out, or third time lucky for Holden's latest import?
The company's more recent foray into car-based SUVs did not follow the projected game plan, and its last two Korean cars have proved to be anything but captivating.
Captiva is Holden's belated entry into the growing mid-sized SUV market, one from which it has been excluded since the demise of Jackaroo and Frontera in the early Noughties.
While Ford and Toyota have dominated the segment - the latter with no less then four models of various sizes and abilities - the wagon-based Adventra and the Suzuki-based Cruze have sipped at the dregs.
Captiva, the Adventra's replacment, is a proper mid-sized SUV. And yes, it is built in Korea, but please, read on.
Captiva was born from a Daewoo S3X concept car from 2004, and is built in GM's Korean plant. But unlike its other Korean-built Daewoo derivatives, the Barina and Viva, the Australian influence has been there from the very start.
Captiva comes in three specifications; a base SX five-seat model, a mid-spec seven-seat CX, and luxury seven-seat LX.
Based on the global GM platform used by the Saturn View and Chevrolet Equinox, all three are powered by the same specifically developed 3.2-litre Alloytec V6 powerplant.
A GM diesel is also scheduled for the second quarter of 2007.
Making 169kW/297Nm, it's matched to Holden's five-speed Active Select automatic.
The engine works steadily under Captiva's relatively lean kerb weight of 1770kg (1805kg in seven-seat guise).
It feels sprightly off the line and into second, but gets a little lazy into and above third and can be reluctant to kick down.
A relatively frugal fuel figure of 11.5 litres per 100km may compensate for the sometimes-reserved response.
The Australian tuned suspension and steering is reminiscent of the new VE.
The on-demand AWD and suspension shines particularly on dirt surfaces, and is communicative without being crashy or abrupt.
Though the LX sits on 18-inch tyres over the 17-inch rims of the SX and CX, it is the base model that has the firmer ride, which is probably due to the different rear suspension setup.
The seven-seat models have "level ride" suspension to compensate for the third row of seats, and seems slightly more forgiving over corrugated surfaces.
The brakes are excellent with good pedal feel and travel.
The light but sensitive hydraulic steering, even just off dead center, is marred only slightly by the odd steering kickback over potholes and bumps.
Compared to rivals such as Kluger and Territory, the Captiva feels compact, almost nimble, and is easy to maneuver.
It certainly does not feel like a hulking SUV, or reek of wobbly-chassied, rebadged Daewoo. Even better, Captiva shares the VE's standard stability control program (ESP).
The ESP is sublimely tuned deep to allow for a little bit of taily, AWD drift before gently bringing the car back into line.
Other safety features such as curtain airbags are standard from CX onwards (a $900 option in the base SX), while spare tyre is full-size (though speed limited to 80km/h).
The high specification continues inside with cubbies and cupholders galore, a wet storage area (larger in SX in place of the third row of seats), and an air of sophistication brought on by highlighted door trims and dashes of chrome on even the base model.
The only obvious flaw is a vacuous cubby in the center of the console that screams sat-nav, but is filled with a black panel concealing a small storage space, or a basic trip computer screen in the LX.
The seats are definitely Korean; flat and under-cushioned, though better in the LX leather spec.
Flexibility in the forward-adjustable headrests, automatic folding headrests for rearward visibility, and the easy flick-and-fold access to the third row make up for the under-bolstered seats.
And the third row can actually carry an adult (though not for long).
The full spec is packed into a design that gives an overall impression of compact ability, and unlike the other Koreans it reeks of Holden thanks to design input from leading Holden designers Max Wolff and Mike Simcoe.
But it carries a Korean price tag.
The base SX starts from an amazingly affordable $35,990.
The seven-seat CX adds a third row of seats and six-stacker, six speaker stereo for $38,990, while $41,990 buys full leather luxury and top-shelf styling.
The value is unquestionable. Until the Mazda CX-7 is released after Sydney's Australian International Motor Show, we won't know the full reach of the Captiva in the mid-sized SUV market.
But a car the size of a Kluger with the price tag of a Rav4 is a proposition that may shake the all-powerful grip of Toyota, while moving in on Ford's Territory with flexibility and standard kit is sure to re-ignite the blue-red competition.
After two strikes, it seems that third time's a charm.
THE OPEL-ULENT ALTERNATIVE
A fourth model sits atop the Captiva range as the flagship Captiva MaXX. Unlike the Captiva, it is based on the Opel designed Antara, which is manufactured for Europe in the same Korean plant.
Many of the unique styling cues of the five-seat MaXX, both inside and out, are the result of its Opel influence.
The exterior design is more edgy with angular bumper lines, lights and grille, a hero metallic green paint job, and shorter, more compact wheelbase.
It rides on firmer suspension, and sports a more Germanic, stylized interior design.
It is driven by the same Aussie V6, but ironically, this 'sporty' top-shelf Captiva MaXX model develops 2kW less than the Captiva at 167kW due to its slightly shorter wheelbase and subsequent altered exhaust.
This also changes the fuel economy of the top-spec MaXX, but only one-tenth of a litre more than the other models.
It is priced at $42,990, or $1,000 above the luxury Captiva LX, and is aimed at a younger demographic who seek standout style, not SUV sports performance.
The MaXX was not available for testing, and will follow one month behind the Captiva's October launch.
Samantha Stevens is a roadtester on the CARSguide team. Her work appears here and in the Sunday Telegraph CARSguide. A version of this review, as well as other news, reviews will appear in the Sunday Telegraph.