► Second-gen Renault Captur review
► Petrols driven, diesels also available
► Plug-in comes later
This is the new Renault Captur. Yes, really. Viewed head-on, Renault’s smallest crossover sports a remarkably familiar look to the first-gen car, a model that’s been incredibly popular across Europe, with 137,000 of them finding homes in the UK since 2013.
That said, the previous Captur was already a bit of a looker in this segment, and Renault’s done a good job of updating it. But more on that in a minute.
What you do need to know is that this car is all-new, borrowing the latest CMF-B platform that underpins the latest Clio, there’s a swish new interior and a big range of engines, including a plug-in hybrid that’s coming next year.
It’s got a lot of competition…
Yes it has, so it’s a good thing Renault’s worked hard on the design of the Captur. Yes it looks familiar, but enough has been tweaked at the front to make it look more mature and a bit sharper, with full LED lights and a few other refinements. In terms of kerb appeal, it’s up there with the Mazda CX-3 and VW T-Cross for sure.
Moving further round the car and it’s actually a really nicely proportioned thing, with a much more muscular stance than the old car, thanks to bigger arches and neater design details like C-shaped lights at the back and fewer fussy bits that you may find on some of the competition.
It certainly looks more cohesive than something like a Hyundai Kona and – dare we say it – the latest Juke. There’s whiff of premium (whatever that is) about the Captur, at least in the higher-spec cars we tested.
As ever, you can pick and choose a range of customisation options such as orange roof and mirrors (other colours are available), but these undo Renault’s efforts to make the Captur seem more premium.
It’s also far nicer inside
This is where some of the most significant changes have been made, thanks to the donation of the latest Clio’s dashboard.
Compared with the old car, it couldn’t be more different. Gone are the horrid plastics and driving position where you sit on top of everything. You now get a proper driving position in very comfy seats (that look remarkably like ones you’ll find in a Volvo), swathes of soft materials across the dash and where you actually lean and poke around, and a suite of digital displays that make it feel suitably modern. It only feels like this on top-spec cars, though, so an entry-level model with smaller screen and normal dials could be a very different place.
You’ll want one of the interior colour packs to liven things up (who doesn’t love a squashy orange pad across the dash?), and everything’s pretty easy to use.
The digital dials are crisp and customisable with different themes based on the driving mode you’re in, while the largest 9.3-inch touchscreen media system comes packed with features – it’s a huge improvement over the old system and is very easy to use, if a little laggy at times when swiping between screens.
There’s more room, too…
It would be a bit of a backwards step if there wasn’t more space on offer, and the Captur’s a good fit for small families. That jacked-up ride height is good for easy access, the rear bench slides back and forth depending on whether you want more legroom or a bigger boot, and there’s a double-height boot floor.
Up to 536 litres of space is on offer if you slide the seats forwards. That’s impressive when you consider the Skoda Kamiq’s boot is 400 litres in size, but that does mean there’s no legroom in the back. However, even with the seats all the way back, it’s a bigger space with 422 litres.
What’s under the bonnet?
A selection of petrol and diesel engines, unsurprisingly. Most popular will be the 1.0-litre TCe 100, which we haven’t driven. It’ll probably be just fine for pottering around town, but the combination of 99bhp and 118lb/ft, plus a five-speed manual doesn’t make for particular exciting performance away from urban areas.
That’s why we’d go for the TCe 130, offering a useful bump in power to 128bhp and torque is up to 177lb/ft. It’s a 1.3-litre four-cylinder and it’s smooth and zippy enough to be the best all-rounder. A six-speed manual makes things settle down at speed, and it’s an impressively refined engine too.
There’s also a TCe 155 which feels a bit unnecessary in a car like this, plus the EDC-only setup means you have to put up with what can be quite a frustrating combination and not a huge amount more performance.
On the diesel side you get a 1.5-litre in a choice of 94bhp or 113bhp forms, the latter of which comes with a choice of manual or auto. Of course, economy will be key here.
E-Tech Plug-in comes later
The Captur’s range expands in 2020 with a plug-in hybrid option using a new 1.6-litre petrol in combination with an electric motor. Key figures here are a total output of 160hp, and a 28-mile battery-only range.
How does it drive?
Very well, actually. It’s a very mature feeling crossover, with a new electric steering setup that feels more natural and fluid, very good body control and an impressive ride on 17-inch alloys. The driving position helps this feel as well, with a high-set gearlever and adjustable driving position to help you actually feel like you’re sitting in the car, and not on it.
Refinement is good, too, with the engines only getting vocal when you really rev them out, but who does that in a little crossover?
More importantly, a selection of driver assistance tech has been thrown at the Captur, most important of which is the Highway & Traffic Jam Companion. This basically uses adaptive cruise with stop and go function as well as various lane-keeping aids to keep you in place. It works well, and once you’ve learned where the buttons all are to control it, is easy to use.
To get the full feel of the new Captur’s changes, you’ll need to get a model higher up the range. The good news is you only need a mid-spec engine, so the price is very competitive with rivals. Less than £22k will get you a top-spec S Edition with the TCe 130 engine, which is far cheaper than an equivalent Mazda CX-3 or VW T-Cross with the same equipment.
The new tech on board all works very well, and the interior is a huge step up over the previous model, as well as rivals like the SEAT Arona and Hyundai Kona.
If you want a small crossover, the Captur should be right near the top of your list.