Cute crossover: Renault Captur reviewed

30 October 2013

Renault Captur side view

Renault Captur
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Good: Style, space, value and economy
Bad: Not quick, inclined to wallow
Price: from £12,495
It may offer hints of off-road capability in its elevated ride-height, but Renault’s eye-catching Captur is about as soft as soft-roaders get. There’s no 4x4 hardware on offer, so we’re looking at a buffed-up hatchback on tippy toes, trying to look tough.

The muscular styling does work, fortunately, raising the Captur above the norm – especially when the bodywork’s rippling flanks are painted in a bright metallic colour, with contrasting roof and mirrors. The bold slash of black at the base of the doors also helps to visually squeeze the body, making it look more lithe and athletic than it actually is. That’s an optical trick borrowed from the Renault Clio hatchback, with which the higher-riding Captur shares much in both structure and mechanical underpinnings.

Renault Captur rear view

Inside the Captur there’s lots of firm plastic on show (as much as 16% of it recycled, apparently) in a cabin that is neatly and cleanly styled, with an appealing dimpled finish to the big sweep of dashboard. The interior surfaces, shapes and the glossy centre stack bear a close family resemblance to those in the Zoe electric hatchback. Aside from some questionable elastic straps on the backs of the front seats – where map pockets used to go when people still carried maps – the interior seems well judged. Families should find plenty of places to stow their stuff.

There’s also a decent amount of space for this class of car, namely the supermini-sized crossover bracket into which rivals like the Nissan Juke and Chevrolet Trax generally fit. For example, the Captur’s 377-litre boot will swallow a lot more shopping than the 251-litre equivalent in the Juke, and even the boxy Trax is beaten, given it has space for only 356 litres of cargo.

Renault Captur driving view

Measured against those two rivals, the Renault is also priced to compete. With starting outlay running from £12,495 through to £18,895 across a 12-level line-up, it should be possible to persuade yourself that a Captur offers good value for money, though do note that prices are pitched at least £1,000 above an equivalent low-riding Clio. Personal lease options for the Captur run from about £200 to £225 per month, inclusive of VAT, according to specialist provider Advanced Vehicle Leasing.

On the move the Captur is mostly quiet and smooth riding, with supple suspension soaking away most road imperfections – the trade-off being a slightly detached and floaty sensation in bends, plus a tendency to wallow over really big bumps. The ride, combined with very light steering, makes it clear that sporting handling was not top of Renault’s priority list, which is probably a very good thing for the young families that will presumably favour this kind of car. At normal speeds on ordinary roads, the Captur is a comfortable and pleasant place to spend time.

Renault Captur front interior

Removable, washable seat covers – an unusual but sensible option in a family car – also seem like a great idea that’s long overdue. And safety is up to the usual high Renault benchmark, with a five-star result from Euro NCAP.

Buyers will also welcome the effort Renault has clearly put into making the Captur as frugal to run as possible. The model I tried, fitted with a dCi 90 Stop & Start engine and five-speed manual gearbox, in mid-range Dynamique trim, has an official CO2 score of just 95g/km and combined cycle economy of 76.4mpg.

This level of economy has been achieved partly though dieting – at 1,170kg the Captur is lighter than a diesel Juke by about the same weight as a couple of people – as well as through aerodynamics. Flaps at the front of the car close unless full cooling is actually needed, helping the car to cut more cleanly through the air. The underside of the car also features ducting to shepherd air more smoothly from front to back.

Renault Captur instrument panel

Attention has also been given to that most troublesome factor in automotive economy – the driver. The stylised, angular instrument panel includes clear gearshift hints, alongside an eye-catching oblong of colour below the speedometer that shades from bright green through yellow to amber, according to the general thirst of your driving.

For those with a real interest in eco driving, there’s also a screen of more detailed feedback that can be summoned through the centre console screen. My relatively brief test of the car suggests that mid-60s economy ought to be possible, assuming you don’t wear boots designed for deep-sea divers.

Renault Captur centre console eco display

The downside of all that green goodness is a relatively modest turn of pace. There’s no danger of blistering or scorching from the 13.1-second 0-62mph time of my test car. Opt for a 120bhp petrol-powered Captur and the figure tumbles to 10.9 seconds, though the price will be paid at the pumps. The TCe 120 could manage only 52.3mpg in its combined cycle test and 125g/km of CO2 – not bad but no cigar.

Overall, the Captur offers a competitive combination of space, practicality and price. There’s not much to tempt anyone looking for speed or agility, but on the economy side it’s surprisingly keen and green.

Renault Captur front view

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