The Renault Captur has no predecessors. It is a product born entirely of the need to enter a market segment that becomes more and more competitive with each passing year. Crossovers were mocked when they first began appearing on the market, but it is now clear that they have replaced the traditional SUV in purpose as SUVs have gotten larger and more complex over the years.
The formula is relatively simple: take a compact hatchback from your model range, beef it up with some chassis tweaks, raise the suspension, and you have a crossover. Perhaps the interior benefits from a slight redesign, if the manufacturer is so inclined. But at the end of the day, this cookie cutter formula has been producing some excellent, appreciable products.
- Price: RM 120,669.63 (On the road, inclusive of insurance and GST)
- Engine: TCe 120 1.2-litre, inline-4 transverse, turbocharged, petrol direct injection
- Power: 120 hp @ 4,900rpm
- Torque: 190Nm @ 2,000rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, FWD
- Fuel consumption: 5.4-litres/100km (claimed)
- Safety: ABS with ESC and ASR, EBD and EBA, 4 airbags (2 front, 2 side)
Sitting on what is effectively the fourth-generation Clio platform, the Captur isn’t an outright massive car. The Clio itself was never particularly popular in our market, with the third generation only being available here in Renault Sport form and in highly limited numbers. With this current generation, Tan Chong Euro Cars decided to introduce the Renault Sport variant first, before bringing in a standard Clio under the GT Line badge.
The Captur complements these two models, offering an even more practical solution to a car purchase. Powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged motor as the Clio GT Line, in exactly the same state of tune, the Captur isn’t the outright fastest in class. But naturally the benefits of forced induction are in fuel economy and a fat torque curve- with maximum torque from just 2,000 rpm, overtaking in city traffic is hardly a problem.
It is perhaps a little strange that the Clio GT Line is priced RM 800 higher as the kit lists between the Captur and Clio GT Line are near identical- a 7-inch touch screen with navigation, cruise control, automatic climate control, automatic headlights, keyless entry and start, and daytime running lights are standard on both cars. The Captur even comes out a little better with the advantage of a reverse camera.
The Captur’s roots in the Clio line are fairly obvious by design. There’s the instantly recognizable fascia of Renault’s current crop of models, with a more robust looking lower bumper than the Clio. Daytime running lights flank the grill, while LED tail lights provide a little more definition. 17 inch rims hardly fill the wheel arches- but of course with a crossover you need that suspension travel, although the 205/55 R17 tyres are perhaps a little aggressive for a crossover.
It isn’t the most handsome among the crossovers (the Kodo design takes well to the Mazda CX-3), but neither is it the most disproportionate (the Ford EcoSport looks a little too narrow and top heavy). It’s safe to say that the less conventional styling and the bright colours may not make the Captur as appealing to the in-laws, but it does help to stand out among a sea of solemnly styled cars.
As mentioned earlier, most crossovers have interiors that don’t differ too largely from their hatchback roots. In the case of the Captur this is no different, with many of the design elements lifted directly from the Clio. What is different are things like placement of the vents and the design of the centre console, with the Captur repositioning the lever for some extra storage space. There is also a clever little storage bin at the top of the dashboard, although our model doesn’t have the sliding drawer style glove compartment of the left-hand-drive units.
With the raised centre console, the Captur can feel a little claustrophobic at times - especially if you’re particularly tall or particularly wide. But after a period of time driving it, it can feel snug in an appreciable cockpit-like sense- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The entertainment unit is as straightforward as they come and the instrument cluster is both a lesson in minimalism and a throwback to the digital clusters of the late 1980s- not particularly bad, but not as complex as one would expect.
The choice of materials used in the Captur can be quite polarizing. One the one hand, the highly contrasting fabric seats and the sea of dark tones can be appealing to those who want something a little less orthodox. On the other, it can seem a little childish when compared to its Japanese rivals- both of which employ gloss pieces or leather trim to add a layer of complexity to an otherwise sober dashboard.
Boot space and rear legroom are appreciable, though far from top in class. The second row can move on a set of rails to allow for more or less cargo room, and the seats can fold flat for maximum storage area. Unfortunately the boot floor tends to be a little bit high, which can make loading and unloading a bit of a chore.
There are some ergonomic issues that only become apparent with long term driving. For example, there is no way to trigger the wipers for a single cycle, forcing you to flick between intermittent and off if you wish to clear your screen. Arguably the automatic wipers should be doing their job, but on the off chance that they don’t decide to kick in it can be a little frustrating. The gear lever also tends to be a little loose in its housing, which is highly incongruous with the fit and finish of the rest of the car.
The central air conditioning vents are possibly the most frustrating to position in any modern car, and more often than not you will leave them pointed in a direction that doesn’t freeze your fingertips off. The keyless entry system is a great addition, but pressing the lock button on the key (card) means you cannot unlock the car via the keyless system and the proximity sensor can be horribly insensitive at times.
How does it drive?
If there’s one thing the French are good at, it would be chassis technology. The Captur manages to be dynamic and controllable even when pushed towards the limits of grip. The stability control systems will step in and slap your wrist if you are heavy handed with your inputs, but for the most part you can have an enjoyable drive within the confines of the electronic aids.
But if there’s one thing the French are usually bad at, it would be automatic transmissions. In this case it isn’t a huge problem as the Captur employs one of Renault’s Efficient Dual Clutch transmissions. Not technically an automatic, it shifts reasonably quickly and smoothly with very few noticeable quirks of the dual clutch system. The only flaw would be the ratio selection, with 4th gear being a little too far out of reach for the engine to maintain momentum.
The engine performs well in a city context, being the spritely little motor that we come to expect whenever we see a small capacity coupled with a turbocharger. Strung out to its limit it is capable of attaining some rather ludicrous speeds, but it would require the kind of commitment unadvisable and space unattainable on a public road.
How comfortable is it?
Given the 55 profile tyres, it would be easy to assume that the Captur would not be able to deal with our pothole infested roads without snapping the spines of its occupants. And yet it manages to deliver on comfort and composure, with that long travel suspension soaking up everything in its path.
That’s not to say that the Captur has ride quality on par with that of a Rolls-Royce, but it is likely more comfortable than some entry level luxury products running on ridiculous tyre profiles and employing unnecessarily stiff springs. The short wheelbase of the Captur and the relatively light body still work against it in terms of overall damping, but it is appreciably comfortable.
The Renault Captur isn’t likely to be your first choice if you were looking for a crossover. It wouldn’t even be the first thing that comes to mind if you’re looking at a Renault. But it does have some appreciable characteristics that makes it a solid contender in a field of very competent models, and it has enough quirkiness to stand on its own without being obnoxious.