Renault Captur casts a mini SUV spell

Renault Captur takes the French car-maker into the blossoming compact crossover market.

Renault Captur takes the French car-maker into the blossoming compact crossover market. - Credit: Renault Marketing 3D-Commerce

Renault has high hopes its baby sport utility vehicle will Captur(e) the buyers' imaginations, says Iain Dooley,PA senior motoring writer.

You know a car-maker is trying really hard to connect with young buyers when it purposely misspells the name of its new offering to grab maximum attention.

Renault is the latest content to rip up the dictionary, and its Captur – without an 'e' – enters an important and growing category, that of mini sport utility vehicle. But with some tough competition the Captur has to do more than simply look good to attract the attention of a savvy buying public.

There's no avoiding the fact the Captur does look good. Displaying elements of Clio alongside its high-rise hatchback stance, the mini SUV is offered in bold, bright exterior colours with contrasting shades for the roof, wheels and air intake frames. The end result is a car with the capacity to shame some of its more conservatively-styled rivals.

The Captur can be categorised as a 'high-rise' Clio. The mini SUV's five-door hatchback layout apes that of the conventional compact hatchback, and with an increasing number of buyers downsizing from larger vehicles there's a lot to be said for the Renault's modest dimensions.

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A fraction over four metres long, the Captur is rooted in supermini territory. However, with a generous 200mm of ground clearance, in relative terms it towers over supermins. The result is a lofty and, for an increasing number of buyers, desirable driving position with the benefits of good all-round visibility.

Factor in a wide-opening tailgate with a waist-level load lip and reversible boot liner and you've got a package Renault hopes will tempt families out of conventional hatchbacks, estates and even larger, more costly-to-run SUVs and people-carriers.

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Renault's focus on frugal, small-capacity petrol and diesel engines should find favour with cost-conscious motorists. Low fuel consumption and CO2 figures are promoted, and for urban motoring the 1.5-litre 90hp turbo diesel is more than capable and emits just 95g/km CO2. You might need to regularly shift down a gear on motorway inclines and if carrying a full load, but it's never vocal or unrefined.

The same is true of the petrol engines, in that the real-world experience is a surprisingly positive one despite the lack of capacity. Turbo technology again features alongside an all new 1.2-litre 120hp motor, and as with the diesel there's the prospect of above average MPG in the real world. Combine this with the option of a slick-shifting dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox on selected models and the Captur is refreshingly easy to drive.

For all the neutral handling, accomplished ride and modest footprint, for many the real focus will be on the Captur's practical elements. Being a tallish car, it boasts generous headroom. There's also plenty of legroom fore and aft, with the latter adjustable via a sliding rear bench so you can increase load space or legroom depending on your needs to a maximum of 215mm of legroom.

There's the fascia design first seen on the latest Clio featuring, depending on model, a slick touchscreen incorporating audio and navigation functions. Although cabin plastics are hard to touch, this should prove attractive to families willing to place durability over plush, fancy-looking trim.

As with the Clio, Renault is pushing hard the concept of personalisation, and offers a wide choice of themed interior colour combinations and designs in a bid to connect with young buyers. The end result can be just as striking as the car's exterior and lifts the cabin's ambience.

Generous standard equipment across the four model range –including a good spread of safety kit – completes what is an attractive package, visually and from a practical perspective. The Captur can also be had with a high-end audio and navigation system, Bluetooth phone and MP3 player connectivity plus removable and washable seat covers and a full keyless go option.

With all this in its favour, it's no wonder Renault has high hopes for its new baby.

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