17 Jul 2013

Renault Captur review

The new Renault Captur is a Clio on stilts and it wouldn't exist were it not for consumers who want to sit higher up than in a normal hatchback. The Captur is 100 mm taller and 50kg heavier than the Clio on which it is based.

Renault Captur
Blame the Nissan Juke for the current frenzy of mini SUVs with front wheel drive.  Yes the Juke is available with four 4WD but 96% of Juke buyers go with 2WD.  The Captur gets the Clio's engines and in the one I tested it's a 1.5 litre turbo diesel unit with 90hp.

The Renault Captur looks pretty splendiferous.  It doesn't have the Juke's excessive wackiness but instead gets Renault's current stylish but conservative styling, with wavy inserts along the base of the flanks, muscular bodywork with plastic trim at the bottom, a roof spoiler and Renault's corporate grille.

I'd say the styling is a success.  It comes with a ton of personalisation options but the base price is pretty cheap compared to the competition.  The car I drove - a towards the top of the range Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90 Stop and Start - costs £16,395, whilst the range starts at £12,495.  This is £5k less than a Skoda Yeti, £2k more than a Dacia Duster, roughly £2k less than a Juke and £7k cheaper than a Vauxhall Mokka.

So it looks good, is priced competitively and you can spend a small fortune on accessories and options and it'll still be a cheap car.
Renault Captur

Inside and the Captur ups the ante.  I loved the interior design and in particular the materials used.  There's plenty of space for front and rear passengers with cubby holes and whatnot for storing all sorts of clobber.  The passengers sit quite high on seats that are supportive.  They can throw chocolate and crisps everywhere too because the seat covers can be unzipped and chucked in the washing machine.

The dash layout follows the Clio theme, that is to say it's well laid out with a decent touchscreen and a quality feel to the controls. I nearly exploded with joy when I saw and felt the interior plastics.  I know that's an extremely odd thing to say but I'm sick to death of plastic masquerading as something else - in particular horrible plastic wood and horrible elephant-hide grain effects in cheap plastic.

All manufacturers who by dint of budget have to install plastics in their cars need to buy a Captur and study its interior.  The materials feel nice and the grain on the plastic is a funky little indented dotty design rather than fake leather grain.  Hoorah for Renault!
Renault Captur

Sadly the driving experience doesn't match up to how it looks and feels.  The engine is a puny little turd of a thing that feels like it has less power than my lawnmower.  90hp is just not enough to haul the 1200kg Captur around.  The extra torques from the diesel don't make up for it either.  The gearbox is also awful.  It's a 5-speed manual and felt a bit like the 'box from the 80s Fiesta I learnt to drive in.

Renault make some decent automatics.  I'd advise you to spec one rather than the manual.

We've established that the powertrain isn't up to scratch but the way it goes round corners is pretty good.  The centre of mass is higher, and there's more of it, than in the Clio.  The Clio handles superbly whilst the Captur handles pretty good.  Not bad, not great.  Pretty good.  Once up to speed it barrels round corners with aplomb, given it's height.

The passengers sit nicely enough in the Captur but the driver suffers from the conversion from the Clio.  In order to create rear room the driver sits far too close to the pedals.  This will cause stiffness of the knees and ankles in anyone old enough to have children - which is everyone who buys it.
Renault Captur

Fuel consumption is reckoned to be 76.4mpg on the combined cycle.  In what must be a new record I achieved 28.8mpg.  This is frankly down to the engine being so useless that I had to thrash it to get anywhere.  People with no get up and go and the patience of Job may extract a few more miles per gallon but 76.4 seems almost unbelievably out of reach.

In summary the Captur is cheap, looks good, has a great interior, has decent options, comes in some great colours (Arizona looks best), has a puny engine and handles OK for a mini SUV.

You should really buy a Clio (here's my review of the equivalent model).  It'll save a few quid and you'll get better economy.  But the Captur will get plenty of buyers.  It comes to into a niche in the market that has the demand but not many models to buy.  And it's a worthy addition to that market.  The 120hp petrol engined TCe 120 may be more sensible though.


Car - Renault Captur Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90 Stop and Start
Price - £16,395
Engine - 1.5 litre, inline 4, turbodiesel
Transmission - 5 speed manual, which drives the front wheels
Power - 90bhp
Torque - 162 lb ft
Weight - 1134kg
0-62mph - 13.1 seconds
Top speed - 106mph
Fuel consumption - 76.4mpg combined
CO2 - 95 g/km
Renault Captur

Renault Captur

Renault Captur