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First drive: 2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech Hybrid 145 Auto. Image by Renault.

First drive: 2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech Hybrid 145 Auto
We test the new E-Tech Hybrid system and R.S. Line trim.

   



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2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Drivers who want a small SUV are spoilt for choice, and the market is becoming ever more competitive. With such talented rivals, even the key players have to adapt to remain ahead of the curve. Which is why Renault has revamped its popular Captur with hybrid technology and a sporty new trim level. The combination is undoubtedly odd, but it has its place.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech Hybrid 145 Auto
Pricing: From £27,500 (£28,200 as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol engine with 1.2kWh battery and electric motor
Transmission: six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Power: 143hp
Torque: 148Nm (petrol engine) and 250Nm (electric motor)
Boot space: 326-1,149 litres

What's this?

Renaultís answer to the small SUV question everyone seems to be asking. Yes, high-riding hatchbacks are big business, and the Captur has long been one of the most popular. The appealing mixture of chic styling, decent quality and adequate road manners have made this car a hit, and itís a crucial part of Renaultís UK business.

Weíve sampled the latest-generation car in 1.3-litre petrol format, but now Renault has decided to add hybrid power to the mix. So this is the E-Tech Hybrid, and it comes in equally fresh R.S. Line trim, which aims to add a slightly sporty edge to the usually not-at-all-sporty Captur.

Externally, the R.S. Line is set apart by its ĎF1-inspiredí bodykit, which includes a new front splitter and a redesigned diffuser insert in the rear bumper. Some 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear privacy glass round out the external upgrades, while the interior gets model-specific upholstery, a perforated leather steering wheel and aluminium pedals. Black roof lining and mock carbon-fibre dashboard trim complete the piece.

Other than that, the R.S. Line is just like a Captur SE Edition, with Renaultís clever, but slightly odd keycard keyless entry system, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Automatic climate control and a 9.3-inch infotainment system feature, too, along with a digital driver information display that effectively replaces analogue dials.

Thereís no denying it looks the part. The Capturís modern styling is surprisingly well suited to a sportier look, and the cabin quality is as impressively solid as ever, which gives it a premium feel. The steel pedals fit with that sense of solidity and the perforated leather on the steering wheel is soft and tactile. The only real complaint is that the black roof lining and black upholstery make things feel a bit dark at times, although the car is more spacious than it looks.

And while the looks are definitely taken care of, the figures suggest the E-Tech Hybrid can walk the walk, too Ė albeit not on the sporting front. This powertrain is designed for economy, and it achieves that with consummate ease, managing a respectable 56.5mpg on the official WLTP economy test. The CO2 emissions of 114g/km keep company car tax rates low, too.

It does that by pairing a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and feeding that with a 1.2kWh battery. The car wonít go far on electricity alone Ė just a mile or so Ė but the motor exists to reduce the load on the petrol engine at low speeds or when coasting Ė times when it isnít especially efficient.

How does it drive?

The E-Tech Hybrid system (not to be confused with the confusingly named E-Tech Plug-In Hybrid) is not a high-maintenance powertrain, and you can let it go about its business automatically. Do that and it decides when to switch between petrol and electric power, assessing the situation to select an appropriate method of propulsion.

Generally speaking, itís pretty good, using the electric motor more than you might expect. Not only does it prefer electrical power for parking and crawling in traffic, but the little green ĎEVí light will come on when youíre wafting along the motorway or nipping through town. Any time the engine load becomes light, it simply switches the 1.6 off and opts for the silent treatment.

If you want, you can exert some pressure on the car to use more electrical power by pressing a button on the dash, but that isnít really worth the effort. The car will soon override your command if it senses the situation is more suited to petrol power.

The thing is, you probably wonít notice when that happens, because the 1.6-litre petrol engine makes very little noise at low revs. Itís a deep buzz in the background thatís barely perceptible unless you concentrate, and that makes the Captur very relaxed a lot of the time. That said, the system sometimes does some odd things, such as choosing a surprisingly low gear in the six-speed automatic gearbox or running steadily at a few hundred rpm above idle while the electric motor does the donkey work.

When things like that happen, the Captur loses its refinement and the four-cylinder petrol engine suddenly feels like a four-cylinder petrol engine. It can drone and blare its way through the rev range when itís under load and thatís at odds with the refinement seen at lower speeds.

And although it makes a bit of fuss about getting up to speed, the top speed isnít especially impressive. The E-Tech Hybrid produces an unremarkable 143hp, so 0-62mph takes an unremarkable 10 seconds or so. Thatís fast enough to ensure you never worry about keeping up with traffic, but itís no better than adequate. Certainly, it doesnít match the promises made by ĎF1-inspiredí design features and sporty aluminium pedals.

Nor does the driving experience. The Captur feels very fluid and quite composed on the road, with well-judged steering and a fairly competent chassis, but it isnít sporty. Everything feels set up for ease of use, safety and security, rather than driving pleasure. And it fits that brief perfectly, with decent visibility and a lightness of touch that stops driving from feeling like hard work.

The only slight criticism is the ride quality, which is a little brittle at times. Most of the bumps are rounded off relatively well, but a few really seem to strike through to the carís foundations. We suspect smaller wheels would help, but itís fine on the motorway and those rims do fill the arches very nicely.

Verdict

The Captur was once the king of the hill in this competitive corner of the new car market, but even the most recent updates have failed to keep it at the head of the pack. That said, it remains a decent small SUV and thereís no faulting the styling or the cabin quality. The R.S. Line trim makes little sense, but thereís plenty to be said for the efficient E-Tech hybrid.


4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 3 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


James Fossdyke - 26 Jan 2022



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2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.

2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.2021 Renault Captur R.S. Line E-Tech 140 Hybrid. Image by Renault.







 

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