If you love the idea of the Nissan Juke but need a larger, more family-friendly crossover, the Renault Captur could be the car you’ve been waiting for. If so, you won’t be alone, British dealers can’t wait to get their hands on the funky Captur, as it’s expected to be Renault’s second-best seller behind the Clio, on which it is based. The Capture comes fitted with small turbocharged petrol and diesel motors, with prices starting from £12,495. Can Renault take on the pioneering Juke, posh MINI Countryman and recently launched Vauxhall Mokka?
Renault Captur Review: Design
While the Juke and Countryman polarised public opinion, the Captur should be something of a crowd pleaser. Three themes called Arizona, Manhattan and Miami are on offer, which roughly equate to ‘rugged’, ‘sensible’ and ‘bling’. All three are similar in style to the new Clio and have a slight concept car aesthetic thanks to a huge Renault front badge, large 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, edgy, two-tone paintwork and a trendy contrasting roof, if you go for the Dynamique S MediaNav trim.
Renault could have dived into the Juke parts bin, but decided instead to use the Clio as its starting point. This gave them a lower floor with no transmission tunnel, better space inside and a larger boot. But, Captur owners will never be able to experience the joys of four-wheel drive, with no space left for the necessary gubbins. Renault thinks it’s the right call, as so few people choose the go-anywhere Juke, or take their crossovers anywhere near a muddy field.
Renault Captur Review: Practicality
With 200mm of ground clearance, you sit as high up in the Captur as in a Scenic MPV, giving a great view into your neighbours’ gardens. There are some excellent features inside too, with a rear bench that slides 160mm forwards and back, so you can choose between extra boot space or more legroom for your friends/kids/relatives. The boot is big enough for a couple of suitcases and there’s a large space under the floor, which can be taken out or reversed, with carpet on one side and plastic on the other.
The cabin could use a few more stowage solutions though, the cup holders looking rather small for a Grande Frappucino. We were also crestfallen when told the excellent filing cabinet ‘magic glovebox’ with 11 litres of space won’t be in UK cars, because they couldn’t make it fit when the steering wheel was moved to the right side of the car. We’ll have to make do with a 5-litre locker instead.
Renault Captur Review: Performance
Crossovers are a funny bunch, with jacked-up suspension and SUV looks, but a desire to be all sporty as well. It’s a recipe which can go horribly wrong, but not in the Captur’s case. It has plenty of grip, hardly any body roll and just enough acceleration. It’s no hot hatch like the Juke Nismo, but the 1.2-litre petrol with 120bhp and a dual-clutch EDC gearbox is a sweet and revvy engine, which gets you from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds.
It can be left in lazy mode, or you can nudge the gear selector forwards for downshifts and back for a higher gear, just like at the arcades. We also sampled a 1.5-litre dCi diesel with a five-speed manual ‘box, which feels more grown up with its 220Nm of torque and long gears. A 0.9-litre turbo petrol arrives in a few months, with 90bhp and a £12,495 starting price, which could make it worth waiting for.
Renault Captur Review: Economy
In theory you can travel more than 700 miles between fill-ups in the diesel, so don’t expect many free model cars from your local garage. The Captur’s claimed economy is 76.4mpg, with only 95g/km of carbon parped from the exhaust. We can believe it too, the fuel needle refusing to budge during our day of Gallic driving. The 1.2-litre petrol should get 52mpg, but you’ll need to resist the urge to nudge the gear lever forwards for bursts of acceleration.
These figures shame the Juke, which is starting to show its age with a 1.6-litre petrol getting 47mpg and an older version of Renault and Nissan’s shared 1.5-litre diesel, returning 58.9mpg. The Countryman One D beats the Juke in this regard, with top economy of 64.2mpg, but it’s no match for the cheaper Renault.
How is the Renault Captur so thrifty? For a start it only weighs around 1,100kg, which is less than the third generation Clio — impressive. It also has stop and start as standard, eco tyres and a radiator grille which opens and shuts for improved aerodynamics.
Renault Captur Review: Equipment
The standard Captur Expression has a reasonable level of kit, but it won’t look like the car in the TV ads. You have to go all the way to the top trim to get the cool contrasting roof. What you do get is cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels. Next up is Expression+ with fog lights, climate control and keyless entry. The expected best-seller is the snappily named Dynamique MediaNav, with natty zip-off seat covers that can be chucked in the wash with your smalls, a seven-inch touchscreen, Navteq sat-nav, Bluetooth, USB and funky interior trim. Top dog is the Dynamique MediaNav S with parking sensors, heated front seats, that roof, tinted rear windows and 17-inch rims.
Options include Renault’s R-Link with TomTom sat-nav and Arkamys 3D sound for £450 and a reversing camera for £350. The Captur offers great value, but you’ll have to choose your specification carefully, as there are lots of confusing options, like the odd choice to offer two levels of sat-nav.
Renault has pretty much nailed car safety, if you’ll excuse the metaphor. The Captur hasn’t been tested by the masochists at Euro NCAP yet, but the Clio is a five-star car, and there will be a bunch of P45s in La Poste if the Captur falls short. It’s fitted with stability control, traction control, hill start assist, anti-lock brakes and airbags all as standard.
Renault Captur Review: Verdict
If the traditional SUV is a hulking tower PC, crossovers are taking off like tablets. Since the Juke started covering cities with exploding paint, we’ve seen the Suzuki SX4, MINI Countryman, Vauxhall Mokka, Chevrolet Trax and Peugeot 2008 arrive, with Ford’s EcoSport and Fiat’s 500X on the horizon. It’s easy to think we’ll all be driving a crossover soon, at which point normal cars will probably become cool again. Until then, the Captur is the best all-rounder we’ve driven so far. It’s more spacious and economical than the Juke, makes the Countryman look overpriced and offers more sophistication than the Mokka and Trax. Renault desperately needs to improve sales in the UK, and the Captur and Clio are two cars worthy of making it happen.
Model tested: Renault Captur
Dynamique S MediaNav
Engine: 1.2-litre TCe, 1.5-litre dCi
Power: 120bhp, 90bhp
Torque: 190NM, 220NM
Acceleration: 0-62 in 10.5, 12.6 seconds
Top speed: 119, 106mph
Economy: 52.3, 76.4mpg
Emissions: 125, 95g/km CO2
Price: £12,495 to £18,895