Road test: Renault Captur

Posted on June 7th, 2018 by James Luckhurst

Smart to look at, with a good driving position, but this version’s weak and slow.

Road test: Renault Captur

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The week begins with a genial handover from the delivery driver at Abergavenny Station. Parking can be an issue here, but today there’s a space available, so he slips the Captur into a space while we are enjoying a cup of coffee and a cake in the station’s excellent café.
As we drive away, first impressions are not entirely favourable. The colour is unusual – certainly eye-catching – and the exterior generally suggests something that will give us a good view of the road. But inside feels cheap, with a lot of hard plastic – difficult to reconcile with the fact sheet which tells us this car would cost £20,915.
We quickly establish that this car is underpowered. Look at it: a raised-up version of the Renault Clio, not by any means small, but propelled by a three-cylinder engine with a capacity of less than 900cc. So for our purposes, that is disappointment number one.

Disappointment number two occurs when we start playing with the on-board gadgetry. It’s always interesting to work out where everything is and how easy it proves to get things working. That’s particularly true with a cruise control function, and in the case of the Captur it looks nice and straightforward… just a small button on the left side of the steering wheel.
But it simply does not work. Throughout its week in our care, we push, click, scroll and reset until all possibilities are exhausted, and still we cannot make any sort of cruise control happen. Nor can we get the car’s Bluetooth to recognise either of the devices we attempt to pair up.

The Captur key is not a key, it’s a card arrangement. There’s a slot for the card just in front of the gear stick, below the infotainment system, but the car functions without the need to put the card in the slot, so we wonder why the slot is there at all.
Today is the day for a family trip to the dentist in Cardiff, with a short stop along the way to check up on a four-legged family member (Tom, pictured right). Driving into and around town proves simple and pleasant. The rear parking sensors ensure trouble-free squeezing into tight spots, and we explore some of the storage spaces (including between the front seats, on top of the dashboard and near the handbrake).
Disappointment number three occurs when we stop the car on the way home from Cardiff. First of all, the engine appears not to want to turn off, even though we only do exactly as we have been doing all week. Eventually, after pressing the stop/start button several times, we get the engine to cut. But on restart an hour later, we find we have lost all infotainment functionality.

Grumbles aside, this is an attractive and versatile front-wheel-drive car. The range includes two petrol and two diesel versions. We have already stated that the 900cc TCe petrol version we are driving simply does not deliver the power needed for the journeys we choose to put it through. The 0 to 62 time of 13.2 seconds sounds like an eternity, and for us it feels like one, too. Having said that, it’s sufficient for getting across town or doing the school run. The 1.2-litre petrol version is available either as a manual or an automatic, while there is also a four-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo-diesel variant.

One of the irritations that go with a very small engine (and, you’ll add, a lazy driver) is the need to change gear frequently. For the taller driver, we find the new armrest arrangement (part of the 2017 facelift) does not facilitate this requirement, as it seems to get in the way of your left elbow. But on the subject of of armrests, storage and practicality, there is plenty to compliment. Inside the car there’s a tidy little compartment on top of the dashboard, with space for sunglasses, wallet, keys, phone, mints etc. The glovebox itself is tiny. This, we are told, is because the Captur’s fuse box sits on the left side of the car, both for the right-hand drive models we use and the left-hand drive found elsewhere in Europe. So they get a splendid glovebox on the right-hand side, and we don’t. Simple as that.
The Captur’s boot space is good for its class, with a capacity of 455 litres and the option to drop the load height or make use of additional space below a raised floor. The potential drawback here would be the height of the boot lip, as this could mean that loading up heavy items would be quite a strain.

Today we need to head to Hereford, so with the infotainment working again, we set the ‘Navteq’ satnav system. It warns of a 15-minute delay heading into the city on the route we would normally take, so we head off to the right via a convoluted diversion that ends up taking longer than we would have spent sitting in the supposed queue. Then, as we join back onto the original road, there’s no sign of any trouble anyway, suggesting our deviation has been pointless.
We have a third person on board today; an average-sized adult passenger in the rear, who says legroom and headroom are both fine.
In summary, the Renault Captur may turn heads and boast decent space for occuopants and their gear, but there’s little in the way of driver engagement. For our purposes, this version of the Captur is just a bit too weak.

We say:
Smart to look at, with a good driving position, but this version’s weak and slow.

Verdict and figures:
Price: £20,915
Performance: 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds
Economy: 55.4mpg combined
Insurance: Group 9E
Tax: £165 first year/£140 standard rate
Figures for the Captur Dynamique S TCe 90