Hello Bijoy uncle, what’s up?’I don’t need voice recognition software or a caller identification feature in my phone to tell me who was on the other line. The only adult, apart from a stunningly good looking airhostess neighbour, who can get away by calling me uncle is Jiby Maliakkal.
‘Fine Jibs, how are you doing?,’ I tried to be pleasant. Though what I really wanted to reply with was a nice blend of choicest abuses in the four languages that I can speak.‘How’s the Captiva? Can I buy it for my mother?’ Jiby was being Jiby – direct, to the point. Now, Jiby knows his cars. Not so long ago he was a demonically fast rally driver and even won a national championship round. But every time he or any of his long list of well-to-do friends or their mothers bought cars he would play the professional and call me, the one who is supposed to know all these things because of the nature of ‘uncle’s’ job. But I was in the middle of the Auto Expo press day and was busy filing yet another story on the Nano (trust me, everything got published) and I really didn’t have time for another Which Car? question. ‘Is it better than the 2-litre CR-V?’ Now, there was an issue – the 2-litre CR-V in question was still under a satin wrap at the Honda pavilion at the Auto Expo. But I was fresh from a 3,800 km drive across Ozland in the Captiva and thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to recommend a few. So I avoided the comparison which Jibs brought in.
‘Go ahead and buy, it is well built and runs on diesel… and mom is not going to drive it, right?’ ‘Niet’ ‘Then buy it,’ I reasserted, as I was eager to get get back to more Nano-writing. And I promptly forgot about the whole episode.
Needless to say Jiby, who rallied a Honda City VTEC, who drives a Honda Civic (which he bought on my recommendation… ahem) was converted into a Chevy bowtie worshipper. Sure he did call me once and cribbed about the on-road price of the Captiva, but he was a happy soul indeed.There, I made the fundamental mistake of recommending a car over another before test driving one of the contenders. Or did I? Is the cut-price, smaller engined, 2WD CR-V a better car overall than the new kid Captiva which, at least on paper, has the attributes of the CR-V with diesel power to boot? It was time to find out whether I would earn the wrath of a good friend or not.
Looks and Design
The Honda is the modern machine here. You may not like the twin-beaked nose job, but it looks smashing in most colours and the curved greenhouse is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Add to that exceptional quality of paint and brilliant fit and finish and we are dealing in luxury car territory. Sure, compared to the last generation CR-V, the new one cannot be termed an ‘honest’ design exercise. It is as if Honda was forced to carry forward some of the key elements from the older model. So you get the tall-set tail lamp cluster which now bends to be part of the form. The CR-V looks big and brilliant in premium pearl white with matt black plastic bits adding to the show. The Captiva on the other hand looks big in any colour. It is more in-your-face – a classic case of brawn over suave. Yet there is something extremely likeable about the car, and it looks capable. Trained eyes will spot a bit of BMW X5 here and pieces of X3 there – looks like Munich is running short of lawyers. Then there are original bits like the indented bonnet with its edges lifted off to blend with the wings – nice. In short, the Honda looks more like a luxury piece of kit while the Captiva plays the rugged role. Can’t help but give half a star more to the Honda here.