25 May 2016 Last updated

First drives

Renault Captur: Beyond looks

By Iain Dooley
Added 15:11 | May 12, 2013
  • Renault Captur

    It’s no hot hatch on stilts, but still it’s not so bad to drive.

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    With splashes of colour in the cabin, the Captur is aimed at the young buyer.

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    Rear legroom matches the bigger Laguna saloon.

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    The rear seats can be folded flat to liberate 1,235 litres of cargo space.

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    Source: Supplied picture
  • Renault Captur

    Source: Supplied picture

Renault has unleashed the trendy new Captur into a segment with dozens of established players. But is it good enough to capture precious market share? Iain Dooley finds out

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

Renault is the latest in a long line of manufacturers content to rip up the dictionary, and the Captur — without an ‘e’ — enters an important and growing category, that of mini SUV. Competing with the likes of Nissan’s Juke and Skoda’s Yeti, Renault’s Captur has to do more than simply look good to attract the attention of a savvy buying public.

There’s no denying that the Captur looks good. Displaying elements of a Clio alongside its high-rise hatchback stance, Renault’s mini SUV is offered in a bold and bright choice of exterior colours, plus Mini-like 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.

It’s fair to say that the Captur can be categorised as a ‘high-rise’ Clio. The mini SUV’s five-door hatchback layout certainly apes that of the conventional compact hatch, and in light of a global increase in buyers who are downsizing from larger vehicles, there’s a lot to be said for the Renault’s modest dimensions.

Specs and ratings

Model: Captur

Engine: 1.2-litre four-cyl turbo

Transmission: Six-speed auto, FWD

Max power: 120bhp @ 4,900rpm

Max torque: 190Nm @ 2,000rpm

Top speed: 192kph

0-100kph: 10.9sec

Plus: Great looks, practicality, ride quality

Minus: Some cabin materials

Price: TBC

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

Factor in a wide-opening tailgate complete with a waist-level load lip and reversible boot liner, and you’ve got a package Renault hopes will tempt families out of their existing, conventional hatchbacks, estate cars and possibly larger, more costly SUVs and people carriers.

Certainly, on the cost-of-ownership front Renault’s current plan on focusing on frugal, small-capacity engines should find favour with cost-conscious motorists. Low fuel consumption and CO2 figures across the board are promoted, and there’s no doubt that for urban motoring, the Captur’s all new 1.2-litre 120 horsepower turbo petrol is more than capable.

You might need to regularly shift down a gear on inclines or if carrying a full load, but it’s never vocal or unrefined. The real-world experience is a surprisingly positive one despite the lack of cubic centimetres on offer. And there’s the prospect of frugal fuel consumption too.

Combine this with the option of a slick-shifting dual clutch semi-auto gearbox on selected models and the Captur becomes a refreshingly easy to use and easy to drive car. For all the Captur’s neutral handling, accomplished ride and modest footprint, for many, the real focus will be on the car’s practical elements. Being a tall-ish car, the Captur boasts a generous level of cabin 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. Up front there’s the now familiar fascia design first seen on the latest-generation Clio and, depending on the model, a slick touchscreen incorporating audio and navigation functions.

Although the cabin plastics are hard to the touch, this will likely prove attractive to families who favour durability over plush, fancy-looking trim. That said, like the Clio, Renault is pushing 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 does much to lift 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. Furthermore, the Captur can 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.