| First Drive | Biarritz, France | Renault Captur |
Model tested: Renault Captur Dynamique Media Nav 1.2 TCe EDC
Pricing: £17,195 (prices start at £12,495)
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door crossover
Rivals: MINI Countryman, Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka
CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Combined economy: 52.3mpg
Top speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Power: 120hp at 4,900rpm
Torque: 190Nm at 2,000rpm
In the Metal:
Stand the Captur beside the almost as new Clio and the concept of the same name that inspired Renault's current design language and the family resemblance is undeniable. From the oversized badge on the grille to the new swept back headlights everything looks good. While the new styling probably suits the Clio a little better the Captur is still a good looking car, especially in the Arizona Orange and contrasting white roof of our test model.
As is the case with the latest 'urban' cars, personalisation is likely to be key to the Captur; everything from the roof colour to the wing mirrors and grille trim can be tailored to suit your taste, but whatever end of the palette you choose to pick from the Captur is a distinctive looking car with muscular haunches in a body only 6cm longer than that of the Clio. Renault UK will offer three distinct themes (Arizona, Manhattan and Miami) and there are four styling packs available for each (Exterior Gloss Pack, Interior Touch Pack, Style Pack and Color Pack).
It is inside the Captur that offers the biggest revelation; the slab of grey plastic that used to serve as the dashboard has been binned and in its place is a much more upmarket fascia with elements such as the touchscreen surround, air vents and steering wheel all available in various colours. Parents are likely to be excited by new removable seat covers that can be unzipped and washed should Junior have an accident, but the news that the 11-litre 'Easy Life' drawer (which can hold all the family essentials) will not make it to right-hand drive may disappoint. The architecture behind the dashboard would not allow the filing cabinet style drawer to carry over meaning we have to make do with a conventional five-litre glove box. You do get a lot of storage spaces however, including deep door pockets, a useful cubby atop the dash and a boot that at its maximum can hold 1,388 litres (rear seats folded) and a useful 724 litres with the movable rear seats in their rearmost position. There is also an 85-litre under-floor compartment in which to keep valuables away from prying eyes.
There has been a lot of talk about the Captur being based on the Nissan Juke platform. Considering the alliance between the two companies this would probably be a fair assumption, but according to the Renault engineers at the Captur's launch, the Juke platform did not suit the plans for the Captur and so the new Clio base has been utilised. This does mean that there will be no four-wheel drive option (the Clio platform was not designed for one), but it also gives the Captur an advantage in the handling stakes.
Sitting 200mm higher than the Clio there is a degree of body roll while cornering, but never enough to unsettle the car, and the alternative of stiffening the suspension to compensate would have left a busy ride. As it is the ride is a good compromise; it offers safe, predictable handling but with limited feel through the wheel, which may not encourage you to push on. But then, the new crossover is aimed at the family rather than enthusiast buyer.
The 1.2-litre TCe petrol engine driven here will be offered in 90- and 120hp states of tune. While the lower powered unit works commendably in the Clio the extra 100kg of weight that the Captur carries can be felt; at speed it will cruise happily but even with two up front it can struggle with inclines. This feeling is not helped by a dual-clutch EDC automatic transmission that changes up without taking advantage of the petrol engine's power higher up the rev range. The 90hp dCi diesel will be offered with this transmission too and due to the more accessible torque it should work better with that engine.
What you get for your Money:
Prices start at £12,495 for the Captur Expression powered by a 90hp version of the TCe engine. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloys, split-fold rear seats, cruise control, electric windows all-round and stability control. Expression+ adds climate control, hands-free entry/exit, auto lights and wipers and a few styling tweaks.
Renault reckons its best-seller will be the comprehensively equipped Captur Dynamique MediaNav, which starts at £14,995 and includes those zipped seat covers, loads more personalisation, touchscreen satnav, Bluetooth, a leather steering wheel and cornering lights. Topping the range for now is the Dynamique S MediaNav, which adds electric folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, loads of customisation and colour options, tinted windows and 17-inch alloys.
While there will be no four-wheel drive version of the Captur Renault bosses have hinted at the possibility of a hot Renaultsport model. No official word yet but it is known that an RS variant that would do battle with the MINI Countryman JCW and Nissan Juke Nismo 'is being considered'.
In the quirky stakes that have served the Juke so well the Captur scores highly. A high level of personalisation will attract buyers while innovative interior solutions such as the removable seat covers will appeal to family drivers. The combination of TCe petrol engine and EDC transmission is not the most appealing, but there are plenty of other options in the line-up.