The Renault Captur sits in the growing mini-SUV segment pioneered by the Nissan Juke. It’s bigger than that car, however, with a longer roofline and more conventional rear haunches, for increased interior space. It might only be six centimetres longer than the Clio hatchback (on which it’s based), but its 200mm ride height makes it significantly taller than the supermini. The looks are really striking, with clever design features including deep painted door sills and two-tone paint jobs to make the Captur appear lower and sportier. Three colour collections are available, called Arizona (orange, black, silver and white), Miami (blue and white) and Manhattan (black, grey, silver, white), which give the Captur a distinct personality. Mind you, these are only the start of the story, as one of the Captur’s main attractions is the chance for personalisation. By choosing carefully from the umpteen options and accessory packs, you can produce a unique car.
The Captur’s interior features a simple, uncluttered dashboard and, on the top trim levels, a clear touch-screen controlling many functions around the car. Coloured trim accents around the air vents, central console and speakers brighten up the cabin, too. It feels playful, with bold graphics for the seats, yellow needles for the instruments and bungee cord seat pockets; and, as with the exterior, you can genuinely personalise the interior. The materials look tough and well suited to families, even if some of them feel a little cheap to the touch, but there’s no faulting the comfort. Every model has a good range of adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel, and the raised driving position gives a good view out.
The Captur is one of the most practical small SUVs. Seating is good for four adults, with plenty of space in the front and rear seats, and the only slight drawback is that the narrow central rear seat is only usable for short trips. The rear bench can be slid backwards and forwards by 160mm, increasing boot space or passenger legroom according to your needs. In all situations, the Captur’s boot is impressively big, and it’s also a nice square shape and has a low lip. The rear seats split and fold to reveal maximum luggage space of 1,235 litres – which is very good indeed. The MPV-like space is accompanied by some MPV-like features. The removable boot floor is reversible, with one side being carpeted and the other being plastic, so you can choose your surface depending on what you’re carrying. Choose Dynamique trim upwards and zip-off seat covers are fitted, which can be put in your washing machine, or replaced if damaged.
Ride and handling
The Captur is based on the chassis of the Clio, which is a fine-handling car. Luckily, boosting its ride height hasn’t left the Captur all at sea, and it strikes a good balance between a comfortable ride and handling that’s sharp enough to give a fun driving experience. Yes, the Captur has light and uncommunicative steering, but it’s still an engaging car to drive, with little body roll and an abundance of grip, as well as a slick five-speed manual or dual-clutch gearbox.
Three turbocharged engines are on offer: a 0.9-litre TCe with 90bhp, a 1.5-litre dCi diesel with the same power and a 1.2-litre TCe with 120bhp. So far, we have only driven the last two, but they both proved to be impressively refined and smooth-revving. The 1.2 is ultimately quicker, but it needs to be worked harder, and the standard semi-automatic gearbox can get caught out by steep inclines before it kicks down a few gears. The diesel provides the most unruffled driving experience, its 162lb/ft of pulling power and flexible delivery providing hushed progress.
Despite its beefy looks, the Captur actually doesn’t weigh very much. This – and the standard fitment of stop/start and aerodynamic bodywork – make the Captur highly efficient. The diesel excels with economy of 76.4mpg and emissions of 95g/km of CO2, while the petrol models return between 52 and 56mpg. Those figures are much better than the Nissan Juke’s, and strong when compared with those of other rivals.
Renault has paid particular attention to reliability in recent years, and the work appears to be paying off, with high levels of positive customer feedback for the Clio and Megane. The Captur comes with Renault’s 4+ package, with four years/48,000 miles free servicing, four years/100,000 miles warranty, four years’ roadside cover and four years’ finance.
Like the Clio it’s based on, the Captur received the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests – albeit back in 2013, when the standards were less stringent than now. Standard safety equipment across the range is comprehensive, including stability control, traction control, hill start assist, a speed limiter and six airbags (although family buyers should note that the side and curtain airbags do not extend to the rear-seat passengers).
Trim levels are called Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. Even the standard model is attractive, with Bluetooth, air-con, 16-inch alloys and cruise control. Dynamique Nav brings dual-zone climate control, the MediaNav system (including DAB radio) and smarter looks inside and out. To this, Dynamique S Nav adds parking sensors, a contrasting colour for the roof, and tinted rear windows. Finally, the range-topper gets the R-Link multimedia system (with sat-nav) and part-leather upholstery.
If you like the idea of the Juke, but need more space, the Renault Captur could be the car you’ve been waiting for. It’s particularly impressive on comfort, refinement and practicality, and overall, it’s one of the best cars in the class.