The original Renault Captur was a pioneer in the crossover segment but can the second-generation move the game on further?Verdict4.5Renault was one of the architects of the hugely popular compact crossover class, and this new Captur proves that it’s still right at the front of the field. It’s better than the car it replaces in every objective way, and it deserves to repeat that original model’s huge sales success. Many rivals feel sportier to drive, and some are slightly more practical. But in terms of comfort, cabin quality and in-car tech, little comes close in this segment, particularly at this price.
This is the all-new Renault Captur: a small crossover that shoulders big responsibility for the French brand. That’s because the car it replaces, the first-generation Captur, has chalked up over 1.5 million sales since it launched in 2012.
But you could argue that, in a way, that car had it easy. It took the place of the dour Modus in Renault’s small-car range, and – with the Nissan Juke – helped kick-start the SUV-inspired crossover craze. So, while the first Captur had the market almost to itself seven years ago, today its replacement has as many as 20 rivals to contend with.
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So to keep itself at the top of the sales charts, a complete overhaul was needed. The Captur now shares a platform with the latest Clio, and benefits from all the design and technology changes that brings.
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The old car’s popularity would suggest buyers loved the Captur’s looks. So it’s not surprising to see familiarity between old and new; there’s still a huge Renault logo on the nose, a swept-back grille, and a curvy body that makes many rivals look a little frumpy.
However, the look is now applied to a frame that’s grown broader shoulders and more intricate details. The C-shaped head and tail-lights – now full-LED as standard – are particularly striking. The car is larger than before: 110mm longer, 19mm wider and 17mm taller. In the metal, it looks more substantial and grown-up.
But that doesn’t mean the Captur has lost the old car’s flair. Customisation remains one of the SUV’s strong points; contrasting finishes for the roof, door mirrors and 4×4-inspired skid plates mean that buyers can choose from a total of 90 different exterior colour combinations.
While personalisation remains, it’s all change in the cabin. The dashboard is lifted virtually wholesale from the new Clio, which means that perceived quality has leapt forward – taking the Captur from an also-ran to a genuine class leader. Soft plastics cover most surfaces, while certain trims get bright, squidgy inserts on the dashboard and doors, which add a lively flash of colour.
It’s a smart-looking environment, too, dominated by a portrait touchscreen that measures 9.3 inches on top-spec models. Base cars get a seven-inch touchscreen which lacks sat-nav, but does feature both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen sits beside an optional 10-inch digital driver’s display; the graphics are razor sharp and it works brilliantly, so the £250 cost of the upgrade (on top-spec S Edition models only) seems like a bargain.
Moving into the back, and space is more generous than in the old car, which was already pretty respectable. The rear bench now slides back and forth by 160mm, but while the 536-litre boot capacity it leaves in its forward position sounds great, it reduces rear legroom to pretty much nil. Still, push the seats back to a point where humans can actually fit, and the 422-litre volume is fine. The Citroen C3 Aircross remains much roomier still, however.
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Not only do the new Clio-derived underpinnings improve practicality, they also transform the way the Captur drives. It’s both lighter and more rigid than the old car, which, in turn, has done wonders for refinement, comfort and steering precision.
Unlike some rivals, the Captur isn’t set up to be firm or sporty. Instead, the fairly soft suspension delivers a relaxing ride. There’s quite a lot of roll through corners, but in a way which feels predictable and contained. Occupants are better insulated from road and engine noise than before, too.
Like the chassis, the five engine options are laid back rather than sporty. Three petrol choices kick off with a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder which develops 99bhp (this is set to be the most popular option in the UK), while two variants of the 1.3-litre turbo come with either 128bhp or 153bhp – both of which we tried. We’d go for the lower-powered of these units; the performance is more than adequate for a car in this class.
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The most fuel-efficient engines are the two diesels. These 1.5-litre four-cylinder units produce either 94bhp or 113bhp,and achieve 58.9mpg on the WLTP cycle– more than 10mpg ahead of the petrols.
The least powerful petrol and diesel models are manual only, while the most potent petrol is available exclusively as an auto. The remaining two units get a choice of transmissions. The manual shift quality is fine, and the auto is smooth, but it can be a little lethargic to move off and kick down.
Electrification features heavily in Renault’s future plans, and in April 2020 the Captur range will be boosted by a plug-in hybrid. The petrol/electric set-up combines a 1.6-litre engine with a motor, offering a combined 158bhp and 28-mile EV range.
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Prices are still to be finalised, but the Captur looks set to start from £17,595 for a TCe 100 petrol in base Play trim. That’s about £2k more than the equivalent Clio, but near-identical to a like-for-like SEAT Arona SE, whose 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is slightly less powerful than the Captur’s, but slightly more efficient.
The Captur’s kit list is generous. Base models get adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. Iconic cars cost an extra £1,500 and add two-tone exterior paint, sat-nav, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, tinted windows, and roof bars.
The S Edition will set you back a further £1,500, bringing with it that larger 9.3-inch infotainment screen and wireless phone charging. Manoeuvring around town is made easier by front parking sensors and a reversing camera, while the seats get synthetic leather upholstery. All of this means that the priciest Captur, an S Edition diesel automatic, should cost £24,795.
- Model: Renault Captur TCe 130 S Edition
- Price: £21,795 (est)
- Engine: 1.3-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
- Power/torque: 128bhp/240Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
- Top speed: 121mph
- Economy/ CO2: 44.1mpg/127g/km
- On sale: November
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