Captiva-ting family visit – Holden Captiva

My parents have just been down from the UK to visit for a few weeks and as such bumped the family network up to six. Now although it was obviously a family visit, it was also a holiday for them too; so despite the rain and unusual cold spell we were going to get out and about regardless – think gale force winds on the beach with knotted hankies and ice cold drinks in the snow at the top of Mt Ruapehu – the Brits are a tough bunch. Six people was too big for a family sedan but too small for a minibus – now call it good luck or call it good judgment but thankfully Holden came to the rescue and gave me their Captiva 7 LTZ to review for the same period – phew.

Holden CaptivaAll dressed in Summit White my first impression was that it wasn’t as big as I had imagined – would it really take six of us? But it did and comfortably at that. It’s only 4.673m in length but Holden have managed to put 7 seats with ample legroom inside – genius. The front features a gaping mouth grille with the Holden emblem up high and proud. Headlights with LED daytime running lamps hug the sharp lines of the Captiva’s bonnet while the fogs nestle into the lower quarter of its face. Satin Silver roof rails run the length of the SUV, while its 19” Alloys keep the running board sidesteps clear of the ground by over 200mm. A wide tail gate and chrome exhaust tips round the back are there to complete the picture from the outside.

Holden CaptivaInside; the Captiva has leather appointed seats that are heated in the front – much to the amusement of the driver and shotgun (not so much for those in the rear).  It has a 7” colour touch screen, which shows crystal clear images from the rear view camera, MyLink infotainment with Apple Carplay and Android Auto functionality. It also controls a powerful 8 speaker audio system. The Captiva has found room for safety and comfort too; Blind spot alert, Cruise control, Hill start assist, Active rollover protection, Rear cross traffic alert, and its passive entry and push button start meant that I never had to fumble for keys.

Under the bonnet they have squeezed in a 2.2L Turbo diesel that gave me 135kW’s of power (from 3,800rpm) and 400Nm of torque from 1,750 rpm. Combine these figures with a 6 speed auto box (and Eco drive mode) and you can get efficiency in the region of 8.2L/100k’s – it really is a great all rounder.

Picking them up from the Airport (and dropping them off for that matter) I folded down the 3rd row seats (turning the 7 seater to 5) but also opening up plenty of room for the container load of luggage they brought (I thought they were only staying for 3 weeks)!

Holden CaptivaHilton Taupo had been kind enough to show us their hospitality for a night and would even let us use one of their family size suites, so of course it would be rude not to go there. With snow forecasted, we decided to combine the stay with a trip to Whakapapa, it would be a chance to throw snowballs at each other and fingers crossed no-one ‘brittle’ would break a hip. The 3 and half (or so) hour trip was a breeze in the Captiva, not even endless ‘are we there yet’s?’ or I spy quizzes were unpleasant, cruise control and a little of my own music made the drive fly by. It was a smooth ride too, I didn’t realize but whether fully loaded with all of us (and all our gear) of just me dapping down to the store, the Captiva’s self leveling suspension automatically adjusts itself to give me the best ride and control.

Hilton TaupoWe arrived at the 5 star Hotel with the snow falling all around us, it would have made an amazing nativity photo but unfortunately it didn’t settle. We scurried inside to the warmth of the Hilton’s hospitality and amenities. The room was amazing, a large apartment style (self contained) layout with full kitchen and laundry facilities. Double sink bathroom, large wardrobe and a view straight out towards the great lake. Furnishings and fittings were a mixture of deep browns and beiges with a bright flake textured granite worktop. TV’s in each of the rooms for your viewing pleasure but seriously with the view outside the window – why would you. The massive balcony for use in the summer was kept to looking at behind the full length glass doors. It had a six seater table, plenty of classy crockery and even a dishwasher. This was all fine and dandy but there was a heated spa pool, Sauna and steam room with our names on it!

Hilton TaupoWe returned to the room like prunes, but fully refreshed and relaxed. Dinner was a store bought pizza, garlic bread washed down with a lovely bottle of Pinot – we’re all class.

Hilton TaupoNext morning we were going to venture up the mountain but not before loading up on a sumptuous, all you can eat breakfast from Hilton’s Bistro Lago. The Bistro is on the city side wing of the building and is part of the old structure. The walls are adorned with black and white pictures of things like old fishing trips and are well worth browsing around – each of them tells a tale. The bar itself is a great place to relax (especially if you cozy up next to the fire) but we were there for one thing – Breakfast.

Hilton TaupoSeated next to the window, it was a case of casing out each individual station (some offering Muesli or cereal, some with fruits and cold meats and then of course the bacon) and filling your boots. We avoided the healthy choices and went straight for the cooked side – it was cold outside! I will pay special mention to the kids table; the balloons and chocolate offerings looked great (and tasted good too – just quietly).

Hilton TaupoThe drive to the mountain showcased some of NZ’s amazing scenery and kept the entire family engrossed. Tobogganing and snowball fights at the top of the mountain were kept to the younger members of the tribe with the wiser couple settling for hot chocolates in the café. It was a long drive from the mountain back to Auckland, especially since we had to go via the Hilton again (someone forgot their swimming trunks). Four odd hours later we hit the homestead again – who said the return trip always seems quicker?

Hilton TaupoThe rest of their visit here was a little less adventurous but the Captiva handled it just the same. Loading and unloading of the tribe (for places like the Mall or parks) was a simple affair – even for the less agile and not once did we feel that we had to leave anything (or anyone) behind due to space. It’s easy to drive, easy to park and has plenty of power and efficiency for long journeys.

If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can take a plus size family (there I go with that breakfast again), then the Holden Captiva 7 should be on your shopping list. Over the three weeks I was behind the wheel I went from liking it to being totally captivated (pun intended). And if you’re looking for a perfect place to get away, head south for a few hours and say ‘Hi’ to my friends at the Hilton Taupo – tell them Dave sent you.

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