The Captur is Renault’s entrant into one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments right now, the small SUV or crossover, in which many manufacturers are elbowing each other and making lots of noise for a larger slice of the pie.
Dimensionally as well as technically, there’s a lot shared here with the already quite praised Clio hatch, but the appeal of the crossover is the added practicality and interior roominess received by having a raised ride height that permits a taller body.
Renault have tried to imbue the Captur with as much of the Clio’s dynamic talents as it could to have it offer a distinctively sharp driving experience over the competition, which comprise of cars such as the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Ford EcoSport, Toyota C-HR, Nissan Qashqai, and Peugeot 2008.
In Australia, the Captur is offered as the entry-level Expression or better equipped Dynamique. Either one will bag you a practical and distinctively styled compact SUV that offers a fun drive as well as low running costs.
But aside from some duller (by design) rivals, that’s the schtick peddled by nearly every other automaker about their own interpretation about how an ideal car in this corner of the market should be like, can Renault’s unique approach make a compelling enough case for the Captur?
“Renault has stuck to the script here, hoping that the punchy looks will help the Captur stand out. And it certainly looks exciting, particularly in vivid orange.” - Top Gear
The Captur wears a familiar face, doesn’t it? While it isn’t an exact match for the Clio’s squintier front fascia, the family resemblance is clear to see and matching up both their footprints on the road confirms this.
Despite its implied relation to the current 4th-generation Clio, the Captur’s underpinnings are actually rooted in the 3rd-generation Clio estate, but made wider to better accommodate passengers more comfortably.
With its two-tone body colour and bling-laden alloys, it certainly is eye-catching in a way that should be helpful in attracting the youthful demographic revealed to be buying these kinds of cars in droves, and the funky styling plays right into Renault hands as they have been rolling out consistently attractive but distinctive looking vehicles this generation. Perhaps the Captur is Renault’s ‘gateway drug’ into locking in a new generation repeat buyers.
Engine and Drivetrain
“…in either 900cc turbo three-cylinder manual guise or 1.2L turbo four-cylinder auto guise, is at the more moderate end of the scale.” - CarsGuide
The base Expression kicks off the Captur range with a 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol motor that outputs 66kW and 135Nm of torque that’s mated exclusively to a manual transmission. It pumps out an interesting noise and is nippier than you might think, though we’d recommend the step up model.
The mid-spec Expression comes with the only other engine choice in the range, the familiar 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol that chucks out 88kW and 190Nm. Both return excellent fuel economy with the smaller three-pot managing a claimed 4.9-litres/100km while the ‘larger’ motor sitting at 5.4-litres/100km.
As already attested to in the Clio hatch, the 1.2-litre is a strong performer and is more than able to cope with any needs a Captur owner might throw its way, and is accelerative enough to propel the crossover past 100km/h from rest in a respectable 10.9 seconds. The same engine is used in the most expensive Dynamique trim and is mated in both cases to a 6-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Some have noted that in the Captur as well as the Clio, the EDC transmission isn’t the most responsive of twin-clutch transmissions. It clearly has been calibrated for efficiency and smoothness, perhaps in a bid to ensure component longevity, but those looking for a sporty transmission behaviour may be disappointed.
“…all models get a gloss surround for the centre section of the dashboard that looks quite classy, plus well-damped switches and a variety of coloured trims and finishes that brighten the cabin.” - What Car
The funky theme seen outside carries over to the Captur’s interior, with a Renault dressing up what is otherwise quite a clean cabin and dashboard design.
More flashes of the Clio’s interior layout are to be found in here too, with most of the controls coalescing around a central hub where the infotainment screen and HVAC switchgear reside, framed within a glossy accented protrusion.
The seats are comfortable and offer good support to view the heightened vantage point from. Build quality is solid enough but there are some questionable use of lower quality plastics that ruin the car’s high perceived quality should you go looking for them.
The Captur was designed to provide lots of interior space and in this regard the Renault can play with the best of them. The added length over the Clio hatch coupled with the taller body means that room for all passengers is ample. It’s useful too that the rear benches can be slid forward or backward for more legroom or extra boot space.
Cargo capacity is another one of the Captur’s strong suits as the aforementioned sliding rear seats mean that when it’s in its most forward position, there’s a very generous 455-litres of space to work with. Even in their most passenger friendly position, the boot is still 377-litres in volume - bigger than many larger hatches. Squish the seats down, and this expands to 1,235-litres.
Behind The Wheel
Where the Clio city car on which the Captur is based is supple and controlled, the high-rider feels wooden and clumsy by comparison. - CarAdvice
The Clio genes might give it an inborn leg up on the dynamic front, but Renault has wisely geared the Captur’s suspension for comfort. It still can hang on to corners quite well and has oodles of front axle grip, but the experience is tinged with more body roll than in the Clio. This is entirely acceptable for this kind of vehicle, however.
The steering is light and reasonably accurate but quite vague in communicating what the front wheels are up to, made worse by the raised height that further disconnects you (visually) from the contact patches.
In town the Captur is well behaved and agile when you need it to be. Meanwhile, higher speeds reveal its more rudimentary suspension components and a lack of noise insulation that allows more tyre noise into the cabin. It’s still comfortable, mind you, but imperfections that are ironed out in more expensive cars are can sometimes be felt as well, more so if the Dynamique is selected with its larger 17-inch alloys.
Safety and Technology
“The Clio-derived interior isn't the most exciting design, but it is packed with decent technology.” - Auto Express
ANCAP handed the Captur a 5-star safety rating when it tested the French crossover in 2015. Frontal, side chest, and side curtain airbags (front) are standard fitment for all variants. Stability control is also standard, of course, and so is a rear view camera and rear parking sensors.
It’s a shame there’s no autonomous emergency braking included in any Captur variant, not even as an option, as it’s a feature more and more buyers are placing at the top of their buying priorities.
Renault fits every version with their media navigation system accessed through a central touchscreen. Their R-Link Enhanced system is also available as an option, and the same goes for the upgraded Arkamys sound system.
For the money, the Renault Captur certainly is a lot of car. It’s a contender that ticks all the basics easily and has above average dynamics and a very distinctive look to boot. Inside, the cabin is well styled, well-equipped, and offers plenty of room to suit any kind of lifestyle, at least just as well as its main rivals.
It might not be the most extensively equipped crossover out there but, then again, it’s not really competing with the upper echelons of the crossover hierarchy as most top-spec variants from other manufacturers are more expensive. If anything else, the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine and dual-clutch transmission are about the most rounded powertrain package in its class, delivering some modest thrills to match its agile, if vague, chassis.
Auto Express - 3/5 - “The Captur offers funky styling and personalisation, while low running costs are an attractive bonus.”
What Car - 3/5 - “The Renault Captur is a good car if you want small hatchback size and costs, but with a slightly elevated driving position.”
Top Gear - 6/10 - “Pretty and perfectly timed Captur is charged with turning around Renault's sales. Stands a chance.”
CarAdvice - 7/10 - “…combining the design flair of the Clio with greater versatility is guaranteed to make the Renault Captur well worth the wait for many buyers.”
CarsGuide - 3.5/5 - “Differences in design and layout should capture fans for this mini SUV. It has the price, packaging and high-riding position to earn a slice of the fastest growing segment in town.”