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Captive driver

Take a group of mates who want to indulge a little, add them with someone who always has to work the next day and who, by chance, has been given a seven-seater and you've got a great night for six and a long one for the odd woman left over. Not only does the four-wheel-drive turn into Sam's Cabs and charge nothing, it also becomes a coat room so those jackets don't have to be lugged around, a ladies' dressing room where big mirrors assist in makeup touchups and a DJ booth where loud sounds get tested outside the club and where guys adhere to the universal the-louder-the-better philosophy.

Good thing there's plenty of room and thank God for sound controls on the steering wheel.

Next day, seats fold down and we're ready for shopping. Only problem is fuel's getting a bit low.

Normally there wouldn't be a problem. But driving to the shops, I'm not sure which side I need to pull up at the servo so I'm looking for the fuel-tank button which will pop it open. At each set of traffic lights, for the first time ever, I pray for red so I will have a few more desperate seconds to find this thing. There isn't one.

At the last set of traffic lights, I've resorted to flicking through the manual. Then there's the situation I tried to avoid. I have to pull over to work out which side I need to present to the pump.

The little arrow by the fuel gauge apparently indicates this, but in my panic at being caught empty I happen to overlook it.

Somewhat cleverly, I think, I pop the bonnet so it appears I have a legitimate mechanical failure requiring inspection, as though I have some idea of what I'm doing.

It's on the left side, in case you're wondering.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Captiva - on the practical side, it's got plenty of room, extra seats and storage spaces - it really isn't anything special. Yes, there are leather-trimmed seats and a sporty chrome-finished dash. There are also gadgets, including a compass. I figure if I don't already know where I'm heading, what am I doing in the first place? There are only two reasons I can figure a compass would be handy: if you're rallying - in which case, I don't think the Captiva is the vehicle to rally in, and, if you're actually an off-road driver.

The Captiva is a solid vehicle but just lacks a hint of attitude.



Price: From $41,990


Smooth driving, lots of storage and spaces for "stuff", sizeable mirrors eliminate what could be tricky blindspots.


Seats are not comfortable for extended trips, slow speed pick up, no button for the fuel tank.