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Driven: Renault Captur Iconic TCe 130. Image by Renault.

Driven: Renault Captur Iconic TCe 130
Much improved when compared to its so-so predecessor, has the Renault Captur Mk2 now got the chops to take B-segment crossover class honours?

   



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Renault Captur TCe 130

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: looks really good, nice cabin, impressive drivetrain, likeable manners

Not so good: still not the most memorable thing in this competitive class

Key Facts

Model tested: Renault Captur Iconic TCe 130
Price: Captur range from 19,095, Iconic TCe 130 from 20,295, car as tested 21,410; or, Iconic TCe 130 from 291pcm across 49-month/10,000-mile contract with 1,294 deposit and time-limited 1,750 Renault deposit contribution, optional final payment 8,443 (4.9% APR representative example)
Engine: 1.33-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door compact crossover
CO2 emissions: 144g/km (VED Band 131-150: 215 in year one, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Power: 130hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 240Nm at 1,600-2,000rpm
Boot space: 404-1,275 litres

Our view:

As a kind of shorthand for the unrelenting mediocrity of modern-day crossovers, the original Renault Captur served perfect purpose. There was nothing wrong with it (which is why it sold in decent numbers for the French firm), as it borrowed its underpinnings from the original Nissan Juke - itself a proficient if dull confection. But, for all its neat styling and two-tone roof options, the Captur had a staid interior, an inert chassis with precious little joy in it and a range of extremely modest drivetrains.

Of course, such uninspiring characteristics haven't stopped a whole slew of similarly insipid crossovers from selling well; it seems that only a few exterior gewgaws, like funky graphics or black roofs or coloured spats for the alloys, and a decent PCP monthly figure is enough to get a compact SUV-alike to sell in sizeable-enough numbers, no matter how talented (or otherwise) it might be. However, since the original Captur launched and then was given a facelift in 2017, some sharper, more appealing vehicles have started to appear in this class. And the Captur Mk1 slipped further away from the apex of this market sector with each and every passing day.

It's therefore not enough to simply 'paint-by-numbers' when cooking up a competitive crossover for the 2020s. You need some real flair injected into the product to stand out. And so the first big tick for the new Captur is its striking appearance. Some would say it looks a lot like the last-of-the-line Mk1 models, but the C-shaped light clusters fore and aft do a huge amount to give the Captur eye-catching presence. It's a fine-looking little machine, working well in a wide variety of colours. Renault knows this last fact, which is why - on this mid-spec Iconic - you can pick fully 34 different combinations of monochrome or two-tone warpaint. Black roofs, orange roofs, red body, white body, grey body with an orange roof, silver roofs, all in blue... the choices seem endless and all of them show off the Captur's lines to good effect.

It's not nearly so impressive inside, though, and we think this seems to be us as an outlet - or, more specifically, this particular writer - being a bit 'spec-unlucky' when it comes to test vehicles. As Neil found out on the first drive of this generation Captur, if you splash the cash then you get a very nice interior with the S-Edition, and all its digital dials and larger 9.3-inch touchscreen.

But our UK Iconic test car this time around came with the seven-inch display and an analogue cluster. It also made do without the splashes of bodywork-echoing colour on the dash, door cards and seats that you can option up on the Captur, and the net outcome was that its interior was... well, a bit drab. Oh, it's fine and cleanly laid out, and there's definitely more of a soft-touch vibe about its structure than there was with the built-to-a-budget fascias of the Captur Mk1, but there's little visual daring inside the second-gen Captur. This follows on from our experience in the last Clio V we put through its paces on home turf, as we'd been led to believe the Renault supermini had a magnificent cabin but we found it had a rather ho-hum one instead. Word of warning to Captur Mk2 buyers, then: if you want the show-stopping interior, you are going to have to pay handsomely for it. Otherwise, you get a forgettable human-machine interface up front.

What you do get on the Iconic, mind, is a generous standard specification. This includes 17-inch 'Bahamas' alloys, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, the two-tone paint (although it's only a choice of Boston Blue with an Alabaster White, Highland Grey or Diamond Black roof that's free, or you can opt for an all-Boston Captur instead; if you don't like Boston Blue, you'll be looking at either 560 or 660 for one of the many alternative schemes with different body colours), a synthetic-leather steering wheel, tinted rear windows and tailgate glass, climate control, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and go, electric windows all round, and the Easy Link seven-inch infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Options on our test car amounted to a 660 Renault I.D. paint scheme, plus a wireless smartphone charger for a reasonable 155 and an emergency spacesaver spare wheel for a not-quite-so-reasonable 200. The Captur Iconic also comes with a lengthy driver assist package of systems, including Active Emergency Brake System, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, and cruise control with a speed limited. Oh, and full LED head- and taillights. So, for less than 21,500 you get a sharp-suited little crossover that's generously appointed and which has higher-quality cabin materials than the car it replaces, if not much interior pizzazz to go with said uplift in tactility.

What you won't get is anything particular in the way of dynamic thrills from the Captur. This is a very stolid car to drive, in both good and bad ways. Dealing with the latter first, if you're expecting this to be a Renault with some of the Gallic firm's traditional chassis sparkle, think again. All of the steering, body control, brakes and the front/rear balance are OK, nothing more. You can try battering the Captur TCe along a quiet back road in search of some driver interaction, but you'll be questing in vain for such a thing, we fancy. Again, it's not that the Captur is actively bad; it's just that there are quite a few rivals in this class now which are sweeter to steer on the right road.

Nevertheless, on a more positive front, the second-gen Renault crossover feels like a far more capable machine on the motorways or for day-to-day travel chores. It's steadfast and secure when you're travelling along at 70mph on the M1, where it gives the impression of being a more expensive, plusher vehicle than it actually is when cruising steadily. It's really comfortable and assured as a result, less prone to being deflected by stout crosswinds or big compressions in the tarmac, and so the overall refinement of the Captur package is significantly improved from the old one. Meanwhile, the six-speed manual is tidy to operate and the steering is nicely calibrated for easy, low-speed accuracy.

It's also a lovely engine. We're big fans of this Renault-Nissan Alliance 1.3-litre unit, which is decent in everything it is installed in. Even revved out, it doesn't become noticeably coarse and while the four-cylinder unit isn't quite as vocally charismatic as the three-cylinder turbocharged motor used in the Captur's Japanese cousin, the Nissan Juke, with an extra 40-60Nm (depending on whether the Juke 1.0-DIG-T is running in its time-limited overboost phase or not) then the Captur TCe 130 is considerably punchier for on-road performance. Bizarrely, Renault claims a slower 0-62mph time for this car than Nissan does for the 117hp triple powering the Juke, but in our mind the Captur was notably faster across ground.

Practicality is also decent, as there's more space in the back of the Captur Mk2 than there was in the original and the boot is a useful 404 litres with all five seats in place, or 1,275 litres with the 60:40 split backrest folded down. That said, the Juke has an extra 18 litres minimum and up to 30 additional litres with its second row of seats folded away, so the Renault isn't the most capacious car in its own automotive corporate group, never mind the class. Getting onto the good stuff once more, the Captur TCe 130 is also good on fuel, giving us back 46mpg across 480 miles at the wheel, with a best of around 50 to the gallon recorded on a long motorway jaunt from Newark to Farnborough and back.

And, in truth, just like with the shift from Nissan Juke Mk1 to much nicer Mk2, we find ourselves liking and admiring the second-gen Captur a lot more than we did the previous model. It's quietly capable and accomplished, which makes it more amenable and, crucially, recommendable too. The only problem is, the Captur Mk2 is not quite endearing enough to be one of the top-three, go-to choices in the class. There are some very, very good crossovers in the B-segment right now and then, to cap it all off, there's an even bigger 'in-house' Romanian-shaped headache for the Captur Iconic TCe 130 in the form of the Dacia Duster with precisely the same 1.3-litre turbocharged engine. The latter machine might sacrifice a bit of rolling refinement to the Captur, in terms of the amount of wind and tyre noise entering the cabin, but it's about six grand cheaper than the Renault and for that sort of saving, you'd forgive the Duster just about any transgression. So while we're happy to say that the Captur Mk2 has markedly improved to the extent where we'll no longer talk about it as a euphemism for rank adequacy, if you want something of roughly this size, shape and price from within the Renault-Nissan Alliance then we'd simply steer you straight to the Dacia online configurator instead.

Alternatives:

Ford Puma: one of the leading lights in this segment in terms of chassis verve, plus the Ford has its clever Megabox boot, classy cabin and MHEV drivetrains. Looks a bit goofy at the front, though.

Peugeot 2008: this is just that bit more interesting in every regard than the Captur: sharper styling, far more inventive interior and a playful chassis too. You need to get on with Peugeot's 'tiny steering wheel' i-Cockpit ethos to make it work for you, however.

Skoda Kamiq: if you want a quietly accomplished crossover of this size, you could do a lot worse than the Kamiq. Like the Renault, its chassis is buttoned-down in the extreme, but it has superb drivetrain options and a capacious passenger cabin.


Matt Robinson - 11 Sep 2020



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2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.

2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Captur Iconic UK test. Image by Renault.








 

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