Renault’s captivating Captur cute compact crossover
- Credit: Renault
Size matters for Renault and its appeal is growing with new small cars, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Renault is a car-maker moving with the times. It's cut larger models from its range to concentrate of smaller, more eco-friendly models, taken a leading role in electric vehicles with the purpose-built Zoe supermini and has finally moved into the compact crossover market with the new Captur.
And it is the supermini-sized crossover that is will play a big part in boosting the Renault range in the UK.
Renault has been slow getting into the crossover market, especially given that it works closely with Nissan which is a front-runner with both the Qashqai and Juke.
Based on the all-new Clio supermini, the Captur with its high ride height, combines small sport utility vehicle styling with mini multi-purpose vehicle practicality and Renault has high hopes against the likes of the Peugeot 2008, Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax and forthcoming Ford EcoSport.
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The Captur really is a smart move for Renault, both in terms of sales potential and good looks – my wife spotted one abroad enough to pass comment before it arrived in this country. The fact it had the natty two-tone paintwork with a contrasting roof colour helped and that is another part of the Captur's attraction for, like Clio, the ownership experience is very much about customising options to personalise it.
Captur also shares the 0.9-litre 90hp three-cylinder and 1.2-litre 120hp four-cylinder TCe turbo petrol and 1.5-litre 90hp turbo diesel engines with the Clio with the new 1.2 turbo petrol engine, which replaces the old 1.6-litre unit, available only with six-speed automatic transmission which will make it attractive in some quarters.
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The TCe 120 is great in traffic with its seamless shifts and easy to drive if you are not in a hurry, returning 40-45mpg overall. Unfortunately on the open road it has to be worked hard to get a spurt on with a hestitant kickdown but things improve if you switch off 'eco' mode.
It shares its underpinnings with the Clio which is a good starting point but the wheelbase is slightly longer to create more interior space and, combined with wider tracks, the bigger footprint helps make it good to drive.
The low-speed ride can be a little lumpy on pock-marked, roadwork-scarred surfaces but gets more supple travelling faster for smooth cruising. The wheels pushed out to the corners also make for stable cornering with body roll in check, plenty of grip and well-weighted, responsive steering making it feel nimble and reassuringly composed on twisty roads.
The Captur's youthful character continues inside with a fun and funky feel to the cabin without being over the top and off-putting.
For a compact crossover the Captur is rather roomy with lots of space in the back thanks to a sliding rear seat allowing you to adjust rear legroom and boot space to suit. For ease of use the back bench can be moved via handles in the boot or under the seat itself but it is a shame that while rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat the cushion is one piece and limits ultimate versatility.
The well-shaped boot is hugely practical though, offering 377 to 455 litres depending on rear seat position and a maxiumum 1,235 litres with the seat backs down. It also boasts a two-level boot floor which is reversible – carpet on one side, washable rubber on the other. And from Dynamique MediaNav the seat covers can be removed and washed if they get dirty too – great news if you carry children.
The driving position has all the adjustment you need to find an ideal set-up, the fascia is user-friendly especially with the MediaNav models' big colour touchscreen, there's useful cabin storage and while there is a lot of hard plastic it feels durable and is easy on the eye.
The well-equipped Captur is offered in Expression, Expression+ and Dynamique and Dynamique S MediaNav trim levels.
Renault is right on trend with the Captur – a compact c rossover that is big on appeal, space and practicality.