It’s in the nature of the motor industry these days that the Renault Captur is a close relative of alliance partner, Nissan’s Juke. Like the Juke is aimed at carving a slice of the vibrant market sector for what the industry calls “crossovers” – cars that project something of a lifestyle image for their owners.
Renault actually calls the Captur an “urban crossover” and it is meant to combine the family motoring, city-life practicality of a small MPV, while suggesting an element of outdoor adventure through its ‘off-road’ stance.
But, if you are looking for a real four-wheel-drive, then the Captur is not the place to start – the whole range is front wheel drive only. However, if you occasionally have to cross bumpy ground or rutted tracks, the Captur does offer a usefully increased 200 mm of ground clearance.
This is certainly a car that has presence – especially if you choose the option of a different roof colour and the body graphics that were fitted to the test car. Buyers in this sector of the market are keen on individuality, so you can choose to enhance your Captur with what Renault call the ‘Gloss Pack’, plus 24 different colour combinations and roof decals. There are also three US-inspired trim packs called ‘Arizona’, ‘Miami’ and ‘Manhattan”.
Despite the bigger off-road inspired looks, the Captur is quite a compact vehicle at just 4.1 metres – just over 40 mm longer than the Clio which shares its underpinnings. That means that, while space in the front is good, room round the back is more at a premium. As you might expect with a car that aims to display some MPV genes, you get can trade off luggage and rear passenger space with a sliding rear seat.
Also in MPV-style, there are also useful storage options around the cabin, notably a big, deep storage cubby in the centre console.
I like the interior trim, even with its bright eye-catching graphics that carry over the exterior colours. The trim is well chosen and Renault are proud of their patented removable seat covers, which should be a boon for those with messy kids or muddy dogs.
With the rear bench slid back for maximum rear seat space you get 377 litres of luggage space. Persuade your rear seat passengers to tuck their knees under their chins and you can increase this to 455 litres. Fold the rear seats and you get 1235 litres of luggage space.
A quick glance at the specifications below will tell you that the Renault Captur – at least in the 90 bhp dCi form I tested – is more about fuel economy and low emissions than it is about zesty performance. It actually feels a little bit quicker and livelier than the 13.1-second 0-62 time might suggest, but diesels do tend to miss out on the sprint from standstill, while feeling more alive at overtaking speeds.
If you want a slightly quicker Captur, you can choose the 1.2-litre TCe 120 petrol engine, which knocks 2.2 seconds off the 0-62 mph time, at the expense of economy and emissions.
The bonus for accepting the slower sprint time is that the Captur dCi’s combined fuel economy is a remarkable 76.4 mpg. Not that most will be able to get that sort of figure in real life, but I’ll settle for the over 50 mpg figures it actually delivers (maybe closer to 60 mpg if you are careful). The good news continues when you find that this diesel-sipping Captur sneaks under the 100 g/km carbon dioxide figure, to qualify for a free tax disc in the UK.
In most driving conditions the performance felt enough to satisfy all but sporty drivers. Even when revving through the five gears the diesel engine stayed notably hushed and, if you want six gears, you can opt for the six-speed auto option – but you’ll lose some mpg and your free tax disc in the process.
The Captur proves to be appealing with its combination of style and character. Its off-road looks add an action aura to what is basically a sensible family car. When you add in the touches of style that come with it, it should prove appealing to style-conscious buyers.
It may not be an involving car to drive and it may not new standards for this class. But, the Renault Captur dCi felt good in a way that few small Renaults have recently. Renault Captur Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90
Combined fuel consumption 76.4 mpg
CO2 emissions 95 g/km
VED band A
0-62 13.1 seconds
Max speed 106 mph
Boot capacity 377/1235 litres