As Australia’s small SUV market grows, those that arrived to the party early are now being overlooked with newer, more enticing metal filling dealer lots.
To keep itself fresh and funky the Renault Captur has undergone a makeover for the 2018 model year, although the changes aren’t as dramatic as you might expect - with a funky face and clever interior the Captur arguably didn’t need a sweeping overhaul.
Since arriving in 2014, the Captur has had to fend off new competitors like the Toyota C-HR, Suzuki Vitara and Ignis, Hyundai Kona, and Jeep Renegade all of which are looking to create a real stir in the segment.
Looks like this update has arrived just in time then.
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $30,990 driveaway
Engine/trans: 88kW/190Nm 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.8 l/100km | Tested: 7.8 l/100km
Although you may not pick it at first glance, the Captur is actually very closely related to the Clio hatch. The interior and exterior are both unique, but the mechanical package is pretty much cut-and-paste from the Clio.
With the updated model Renault has changed the range a little with a Zen entry model available with manual or auto transmissions, or the more premium Intens model seen here.
The Captur Intens is auto-only, in this case a six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch automatic, and is powered by a modest 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. Even the basic Captur Zen comes well equipped, but the Intens adds luxuries like leather trim and a glass roof, self-parking, bigger alloy wheels, and extra exterior styling details.
From $28,990 plus on-road costs the Captur Intens represents sharp value in the segment given the standard equipment list, but as we discovered during our time with the Captur, Renault’s corner-cutting quickly becomes apparent.
- Standard Equipment: Partial leather trim, single-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, fixed glass roof, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start with walk-away lock, sliding rear seat, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear privacy glass, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch R-Link touchscreen, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Aux and USB inputs
- Option fitted: Bose premium audio $500
- Cargo Volume: 377 litres to rear seats (455 litres including under-floor storage), 1235 litres to front seats
Take a seat inside the Captur and there’s a deflating feeling of hit and miss. It’s certainly spacious, and definitely well equipped but compared to the boldly-designed and well-finished Clio, the Captur comes off feeling second-rate.
Renault does offer soft-touch dash and door surfaces which many in the small SUV segment don’t, but the minimalist instrument cluster doesn't deliver much data compared to more modern multi-function displays, and things like the dash-top bin lid and centre armrest feel especially low-rent.
Then there’s the interior rattles: Your perception of quality is sure to plummet after a few minutes behind the wheel. The car we drove made a constant squeak from the steering rattle and made a loose thud somewhere in the back seat.
That’s a shame because the rear seat itself is an innovative one. It can slide back and forward for more boot space, and even offers a little bit of backrest adjustment something other small SUVs ignore.
The equipment list is at least strong. There’s leather trim (though it means missing out on the Zen’s washable zip-off seat covers), heated front seats, climate control, keyless entry and start, a fixed glass roof with manual blind, LED headlights, privacy tint, and cruise control with speed limiter.
Boot space it also well thought out. There’s a minimum of 377 litres, but that can be adjusted via the trick back seat. Renault also hides a further 78 litres of storage under the boot floor, which can also be positioned as a divider for certain loads. Drop the rear seats and there’s up to 1235 litres available.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 88kW @4900rpm, 190Nm @2000rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: Pseudo MacPherson strut front, torsion-beam rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front discs, rear drums
- Steering: Electric power steering, 10.7m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 900kg braked, 680kg unbraked, 75kg towball load
Despite being marketed as an adventure-capable SUV, think of the Capture as an urban adventurer.
There’s no all-wheel drive available, but there is a multi-mode stability control system with on-road, and off-road settings to venture further off sealed surfaces, plus an ‘expert’ setting that turns stability control off.
Under the bonnet Renault has retained a the same 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine but power is modest at 88kWm, while torque is rated at 190Nm, putting it towards the back of the small SUV pack.
Performance, as you might expect isn’t a strong suit, but as a leisurely cruiser the Captur will be fine. Further blighting its performance is the engine’s lack of willingness to rev.
Intens buyers don’t get a choice of transmission either, with Renault’s six-speed dual clutch automatic conveying power to the front wheels. The auto exhibits some of the worse traits of this style of transmission with lumpy low-speed behaviour and odd hesitation between gears unless you lift your foot off the throttle as you would in a manual.
All of that, coupled with a jiggly, bouncy ride ride that bucks over expansion joints and bobbles through potholes diminishes the Captur’s appeal.
The thing that makes all of this so unusual is that the Clio is such a sweetheart, with a lovely ride and a more linear engine tune on any of the examples we’ve driven in the past making the Captur stand apart as an odd one out of the range.
The woe doesn’t end there with grabby brakes that are hard to modulate and plenty of wind noise at speed that means the Captur is neither at home in the city, nor out on the open road.
ANCAP Rating: 5/5 Stars - the Renault Captur scored the maximum five-star rating when tested in 2013 based on data obtained by Euro NCAP.
Safety Features: Standard safety features on all Captur variants include front and side airbags (including head protection) for front seat occupants but no rear airbags, electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assists and electronic brakeforce distribution, front seatbelt pretensioners, ISOFIX child seat mounts, a rear view camera and rear park sensors.
Moving up to the Intens adds front and side park sensors, Easy Park Assist, and blind spot monitoring.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Renault’s capped price service plan is set at $299 per service for the first three visits with services due every 12 months or 30,000km (whichever occurs first) although the Captur uses a condition sensor to monitor oil quality and may suggest earlier servicing, your Renault dealer can explain full terms and conditions of the capped price program.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
If compact size is your main motivator, the Suzuki Ignis maintains urban-friendly dimensions and is packed full of character. It’s less powerful than the Captur, but also much lighter resulting in a surprisingly zippy car with an interesting and colourful interior at a bargain price.
If size is less of an issue, but style is paramount try the Toyota C-HR. The most dramatically styled Toyota in decades (maybe ever?) blends together plenty of safety tech and a high-quality interior plus excellent on-road dynamics.
Hyundai’s new kid on the block, the Kona, can’t be missed thanks to its fairly outrageous styling. Things are a little bit more normal behind the wheel, and thanks to suspension tuned for Australian conditions the Kona drives like a dream in local conditions.
A resurgent Honda really hit the nail on the head with the HR-V as it is smooth, quiet, well appointed and with a well-crafted interior. There’s plenty to like about the way it drives, and the clever Magic Seats in the rear open up a wealth of versatility.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Even with a reshaped front end and cool-looking C-shaped daytime running lights the Renault Captur can’t hide the shortcomings that held the previous model back.
It almost feels as if Renault tried so hard to be amongst the first with a compact SUV that it didn’t bother to develop a vehicle with enough substance to match its cool looks.
Even safety is off the pace,. While ANCAP grants a five-star score, the 2013 assessment criteria allowed cars to miss out on rear curtain airbags and autonomous emergency braking and as such the Captur misses both and wouldn’t be eligible for a five-star score if tested today.
While the interior blends of storage and comfort solutions that should be the envy of other cars in the class, it's the wheezy engine and out-of-sync ride that result in a low standing for this baby SUV.
MORE: Renault News and Reviews
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