The Renault Captur is the latest attempt to break Nissan’s stranglehold on the small crossover market. On paper 76.4mpg, individual looks and competitive pricing mark it out as a contender but can it really topple the Juke?
Nissan has cornered the crossover market and now everybody wants a piece, and that includes Nissan’s partner – Renault. The UK market has fallen in love with this sector, thanks to the looks, practicality and pricing that simultaneously make traditional hatchbacks look a bit old hat and a crossover temptingly affordable.
The recipe for a successful compact crossover is simple. Take one supermini, press 110% on the photocopier, put in a few edgy lines and hey presto! This gives us high hopes for the Captur as Renault is great at making small cars. The Clio is one of our favourite superminis, with sharp looks and excellent fuel economy, so the prospect of a Clio that fits your dog/surf board/shopping (delete as required) has appeal.
However in the flesh the Captur looks like it is trying a bit too hard. Yes the fact that you can get a contrasting colour on the roof is entertaining for a few minutes, but look behind the war paint and the Renault might lack the wow factor for some.
On the inside, brightly coloured seats and a splash of colour are combined with a modern, stylish dashboard with a clear and user-friendly touchscreen. Most of the controls are sensibly laid out and feel robust enough, and the analogue temperature controls get a big thumbs up from us.
The Captur is admirably light which is great news for fuel economy and demonstrates Renault’s commitment to removing unnecessary weight from new models.
We love the new Clio but the Captur loses many of the dynamics of that car. It offers little for the enthusiastic driver with poor body control and little feedback. However we know that many potential buyers won’t have sharp driving dynamics at the top of their list, so has Renault gone for a laid back cosseting ride instead? Err no.
The main issue is the damping which can’t quite keep up with the demands of the relatively soft suspension. At motorway speeds this leads to a bouncy ride and body roll, but disappointingly lower speed bumps, like speed humps, reveal a hard edge to the suspension as it struggles to cope with big compressions. The result is that the Captur never feels quite at home anywhere.
The 1.5 litre dCi turbodiesel is great in the Clio but lacks punch here. Engage ECO mode and things get really slow. At least you will gain at the pumps as it does a good job of keeping fuel consumption in check.
This is where the Captur plays its ace card. On the official fuel consumption tests it managed 76.3 mpg which equates to 95 gkm/CO2. This means that private buyers pay no VED, and company car users are also happy with a 15% BIK rate. This is a great result and is pay-off for the average performance.
During our week with the car it managed 47.4 mpg in heavy urban traffic but on a longer 70 mph motorway run it returned an excellent 73 mpg, so it can deliver in the real world. By the end of the week the average was 51.8 mpg. If your regular routine involves a lot of urban running the petrol TCe 90 engine is worth a look especially as the diesel motor doesn’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards.
Renaults are generally competitively priced, and this is no exception. ‘Our’ Captur sits towards the top of the model range but still comes in at £16,395. With a few options added the actual price as tested is £18,795 which is mostly accounted for by metallic paint (£495), a reversing camera (£350), and a very reasonably priced upgraded multimedia system (£450).
If you are on a tighter budget it is good to know that the entry-level petrol model can be yours for a smidge over £15,000.
The Captur offers individual looks, and lots of scope for personalisation. With 455 litres on offer it also offers significantly more boot space than both the Clio it is based on (300 litres) and its arch rival and sibling the Nissan Juke (354 litres). It also edges the Juke in terms of official fuel consumption and tax.
However it is let down by average performance, soggy handling and an underdeveloped suspension set up which always makes its presence felt.
There is a good car in here somewhere and if Renault can improve the ride quality there is potential for the Captur to impress, but for the time being it can’t quite beat the Juke as an all round package, and within the Renault range it is outclassed by the Clio on which it is based.
The Captur is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.