I have to admit from the outset that the last generation Renault Captur was not one of my favourite cars. In fact, it was one of my least favourite cars of recent years. So, from the off, I’m going to say that the new one is far, far better in every way.
Like the recently launched Clio, the Captur looks like a gentle evolution of the previous model but is, in fact, all-new. Only 15 per cent of the CMF-B platform is shared with the old Captur and the new one is lighter and stronger than before and able to accommodate more safety and powertrain technology.
At first glance, the new Captur is a slightly sharper, slightly more mature version of the old model. But it’s 11cm longer, has a more assertive, less blobby look and there’s more use of chrome detailing to give a higher-end feel. With a whole host of single and two-tone finishes plus customisation packs, Renault reckons there are 90 possible exterior colour combinations to make your Captur stand out.
The interior looks and feels streets ahead of the old car and can hold its own against the likes of the Ford Puma and Kia Stonic. Materials from top to bottom feel more solid and high-end and the overall fit and finish is good, although some of the switches don’t feel as tough as in rival models and the portrait touchscreen looks like it’s been glued on to the dash as an afterthought. It at least means there’s plenty of space for the responsive media/nav system.
The seats are still a bit small for the larger driver, who will also struggle for legroom, but they’re pretty supportive and there’s a reasonable amount of room for rear passengers. This is aided by a sliding rear bench, which allows you to prioritise rear legroom or boot space. And with an adjustable floor the boot holds up to 536 litres – more than even the Ford Puma with its clever Megabox.
On the road the Captur is also a lot better than before, but still lags behind the likes of the Puma and even the related Nissan Juke.
Unlike the previous generation, here the steering wheel actually feels like it’s connected to something. It’s still not a fun car to drive, even in sport mode, but the steering isn’t as overly light as the old model. The Captur is tall and has a short wheelbase, characteristics that you can feel from the driver’s seat and mean you’ll never feel inclined to throw it around. It at least rides well, doing a good job of smoothing out the road surface, much like the Clio with which it shares a platform
The 128bhp 1.3-litre engine is surprisingly lively and even managed to make decent progress with five people onboard. 42mpg over several hundred miles, including up hill and down dale in the Lake District isn’t too shabby either.
A lesser turbocharged 99bhp 1.0-litre variant is available and there’s a 153bhp version of the 1.3, plus 94 and 114bhp 1.5 diesels. The Captur will be the first Renault to feature plug-in hybrid technology when the E-Tech drivetrain is launched in July.
All in all, the new Captur is a decent car but my major problem with this particular version is that, before options, it costs in excess of £23,000 and as tested it’s £55 north of £27,000. For a slightly weird looking compact SUV.
Included in that top-of-the-range S Edition price are cruise control, lane keep assist, AEB and traffic sign recognition plus automatic single-zone air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and wireless phone charger. The near £4,000 of options include part-leather heated seats, a heated steering wheel, 360-degree around view camera; 18-inch alloys and Flame Red paint. The £1,000 comfort pack’s hilariously named “semi-panoramic” sunroof (a regular sunroof), height adjustable passenger seat and “flying console” hardly seem worth the expense.
As far as B-SUVs go there’s nothing wrong with the new Captur and it’s streets ahead of the old one. It’s pretty refined, rides well, has reasonable space and a strong engine. But if I wanted a small Renault that ticks all those boxes, I’d have a Clio. The whole B-SUV segment is packed with models from every brand and while each does some things better than others the Captur does little to raise itself above the masses.
Price: £23,395 (£27,055 as tested)Engine: 1.3-litre, three-cylinder, turbo, petrolPower: 128bhpTorque:177lb/ftTransmission:Seven-speed automaticTop speed:120mph0-62mph: 9.6 secondsEconomy:44.8mpgCO2 emissions: 124g/km (NEDC correlated)