The great debate: Sunny skies and sushi

Chris: Chev… what a brand! Takes me back to my childhood of straight-six powerplants, masses of room and my dad’s Chevies that were made out of iron. Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet. Those were the days kid, those were the days. Then I had a Chev 4100 in the 1970s – another great car that was.

Stuart: Sunny skies and blah blah blah, catch a wake-up, old man. The Chevs you had in the “good old days” are a far cry from the new Chevs.

Chris: Don’t rain on my brand parade, Stu. To me a Chev’s a Chev even if it’s made by Daewoo.

Stuart: Ha ha, that about sums up the rewards of creating great brand loyalty, hey. The loyal are hard to scare off. Or are they, dad?

Chris: The Captiva was the first of these two SUVs I tried and I must say I was impressed. It seemed good value for money with lots of room and a good enough ride. Some nice accessories and the kind of SUV I reckon a young family would find great for tootling about town or cruising through the Kruger Park. And how many Captiva owners would want to go seriously bundu-bashing anyway?

Stuart: I’m reluctant to insult any 4×4 by saying it’s a good “tootler” dad. Whether it’s a “soft” SUV or a hard one, I am of the opinion now that the driver is the most important factor in a vehicle’s performance on and off road.

In last month’s mag the story of the two ladies and the fantastic little Terios in Angola – which I brought to the table in a head-to-head a while back and which we both agreed was fantastic – did a lot to confirm this in my mind, as a result of how well it did there in the hands of supposed amateurs. Hats off to the ladies and to the Terios.

But, our latest head to head is far from black and white, hey dad? I mean I far prefer the look of the Chev from the outside. It’s just a bit more rugged looking than the more subtle and sleek Honda.

Inside, it is its extremely practical, and the very clever seven-seat-setup tops it off for me. Plenty space there. The problem with the Chev is highlighted when you drive it after the Honda. On its own it is a great package, but in so far as performance and driving pleasure go, the Honda is in another league completely.

Chris: You know what? Much as I love the Chev brand, I have to agree that the Honda is in another league. I was hoping it wouldn’t be, but all the brand loyalty in the world isn’t going to be able to get my mind away from the fact that if I had the choice, I would go for the Honda. That would be both my head and my heart talking.

Stuart: Ja, old man, so we agree the Honda is a better performer on the road and offers a more rewarding drive with a more refined motor, and a gearbox that is on another planet compared to the Chev. And, even though I got out of the Chev after starting it for the first time to check the exhaust and the rear model branding to establish if it was diesel or petrol, because of the noise the motor made, it is a far better looking piece of kit, in my opinion.
Chris: You’ve already said that, and to borrow the words of Star Wars legend Obie Wan, you now run the risk of being repetitive, my “young apprentice”… Is that all you have on the Chev? It looks better? The Honda is a better drive, we agree. As far as the Chev being better looking, I think not.
I must say that of all the mid-size SUVs I have ever driven, I have never come across one that holds the road in corners like this Honda. The engine is also great and the gearbox smooth. I usually look for fun in an SUV or 4×4 off-road, but I must confess to having quite a bit of fun with the Honda on some of those really twisty roads on the Cape Peninsula.
Stuart: Ja, it is an entertaining drive and when we went to do the photographs I struggled to keep up in the Chev as you carved up the road in the Honda. But, that’s not what these vehicles are supposed to do. They are supposed to be practical both on- and off-road, and on the little off-road we did you must admit the Chev was better.
Chris: No.
Stuart: Oh come on. The Chev was better offroad!
Chris: No.
Stuart: Yes, it was!
Chris: No.
Stuart: Damn, you’re stubborn, old man… Anyway I think it was and I may be grabbing at straws here but, the inside was well sorted too?
Chris: Ja, it was nice, I suppose, but the Honda is better inside. All the controls, knobs and dials are in the right place. The Chev sees one digging around at the bottom of the console with one hand while watching the complicated display at the top. Silly and unnecessary when your eyes should be on the road.
Stuart: I must admit that it was a bit challenging at first, but it’s designed for us more multitask-capable youngsters, not you geriatric old codgers. By the way, happy birthday. Can I send over a hamper of geriatric diapers to go with the hearing aid you just took delivery of?
Chris: Don’t start what you can’t finish, my “padawaan learner”.
Stuart: Dad, look, I have to admit that the Honda is a better vehicle, nicer to drive, better appointed inside and probably a bit easier to live with. But let’s consider other factors in overall ownership experience.
Chris: Like what?
Stuart: Well, like the dealers and the network of support for the brand? I’ve only heard good things about GM, in spite of the crisis in the USA and which GM here says has no bearing on their local operation. I’ve heard little good or bad about Honda. In fact, the lack of comment and brand silence is deafening and, like one’s personal credit history, no news is bad news. No one seems to be passionate in the defence of or promotion of Honda as a brand.
Chris: Obviously you haven’t been listening. Let me ask you this. Of the two brands, which was easier to deal with in arranging and collecting these two vehicles for us to test?
Stuart: That’s not fair! The Chev was a rental and I was not dealing with GM themselves. I must say though, the Honda folks were awesome to deal with. They really were.
Chris: Well, that’s all influential in so far as the consumer’s brand experience goes. All the marketing and all the money in the world is nothing unless everyone in the chain holds the same value for the customer.
Stuart: Here we go again. You’ve been singing this tune for as long as I can remember. Let’s focus on the vehicles alone for a moment, shall we? Let’s get some facts out the way before we conclude this, the last of our head-to-head articles.
In the white corner, sporting superior external features, the Chevrolet Captiva 2.4LT is going to set you back R333 250. It boasts electronically controlled 4×4 traction control, ABS and ESP. It also seats seven people, which is two more than the Honda and almost on a par with the Vito CrewBus that seats eight and Hyundai H1 that seats nine.
In the black corner, the sleeker Honda C-RV 2.4RVi will empty your account by R331 900. It too has electronically controlled 4×4 traction control, ABS and ESP and is nicer to drive on the road, is full of clever things like a sunglasses holder and curved mirror for internal viewing, but for me lacks the ruggedness of the Captiva.
Chris: Nice little piece there, Stu. Don’t give up the day job, though. Wax lyrical all you want about the Chev, the fact remains that I am unwavering in my opinion of the Honda. It is the winner here. I think back to my old man, who – much to my horror – traded in his trusty BMW for a Honda many years ago. I appreciate now how wise a man he was. He obviously saw something in the brand then, and I can see it now.
Stuart: Ja, that is probably the most compelling bit of info here to support the Honda. Oupa was a perfectionist after all, wasn’t he? I think whether you choose the Honda or the Chev, the experience would be great. They are both much more capable than we thought and more fun than either of us imagined.
Chris: Honda wins hands down…
Stuart: No dad, not hands down, only just.
Chris: No
Stuart: Yes, only just. Like Ducati over Yamaha.
Chris: You just couldn’t resist. You just couldn’t go one article without mentioning it, co
uld you? So this is it then, the last of our Generation Gap articles. No tears, please.
Stuart: Yip, this is it. I can’t promise a waterless end. I’m a helluva emotional guy, dad, you know that. Completely in touch with my feminine side.

What’s YOUR OPINION? Do you agree with either Chris or Stuart, or have you had personal experience with the Captiva or CR-V? Post your comment on our website – by clicking on Your Opinion.