A funky design and stylish looks combine to give the new Renault Captur a certain ‘je ne sais quois’, says Kate Ginn
An old neighbour of mine when I used to live in the UK had a Citroen DS3 car and lavished time and attention on it. The young man could often be seen washing, cleaning and generally giving lots of TLC to his obvious pride and joy. I have a feeling that he would love the new Renault Captur just as much if given the chance.
For a start, it has a very similar appearance, with two-tone bodywork and chunky 4×4 looks (in fact it’s a two-wheel drive) to appeal to the inner adventurer who wants to look the part but not necessarily pay for it. Renault’s Captur (yes without the “e” is correct) is the French carmaker’s first urban crosser and claims to explore new territory.
As it’s just been launched in Oman, expect to see a fair few of these cropping up on the streets near you soon, as I imagine its broad appeal – to young drivers, families and second-car hunters – will capture a good number of admirers.
I think it looks elegant and quite dynamic. Whereas Renault’s Duster (a genuine all-terrain with 4WD options) has a somewhat workhorse-like appearance, its upstart baby brother is far brasher, in-your-face and definitely out to get noticed. It’s a squat little bruiser that looks like it can handle itself in any situation. Don’t think about serious off-roading in this, however. It’s not designed for that.
The name of the game with compact crossovers is to combine 4×4 looks with supermini dimensions and running costs. On that score, Renault has done a good job. The 1.2L engine is not a thirst monster – although the turbocharge does ensure bursts of speed (and controlled fun) when you need it – and gives excellent fuel consumption (7.5L/100km).
It gains extra points for the myriad of customisation options on offer. Drivers of this car will love to stand out from the crowd and show off its strong personality. Themed collections – Arizona, Miami and Manhattan – allow for two-tone colour paint palettes. My personal favourite would have to be the Diamond Black body with an Arizona Orange roof (I’m a secret girl racer at heart).
This personalisation continues inside, where you can choose your preferred seat covers in a variety of fabrics in five available patterns. The covers are also unzippable and washable – great if you have little ones in the back spilling fruit juice and dropping food everywhere.
Interior space is good. Even adults in the rear seats – who hopefully won’t be making a mess of the seat covers – should be happy with the knee room (up to 21.6cm) and comfort. The back seating arrangements are quite clever. Depending on the version, the whole rear three-seat bench can be folded down and converted into a flat floor with a rubber surface that can be wiped clean and slides on rails, giving flexible storage. The Captur is up against rivals such as the Ford EcoSport (which I drove and was mightily impressed with) and the Nissan Juke (which I also really liked) so it needs to deliver on several fronts.
In the looks department, it more than squares up to its competitors. Safety is equally good. The Captur earned a five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP and comes with six airbags as standard. It’s well priced and equipped too (although some reviews have said the cabin quality is a little underwhelming). All models have air conditioning, cruise control and hill assist is standard, while the top-of-the-range models add a TomTom-based sat nav system, larger wheels and heated seats.
There’s also a decent stereo. The Renault R-Link is an easy-to-use system giving smartphone connectivity and access to a range of apps.
Some trims have the neat ECO mode. This allows the driver to hand over control of some driving duties to the car, such as acceleration and air conditioning, reducing fuel consumption in the process. When switched on, the Captur will modify its acceleration and air conditioning, making for smoother and longer acceleration, thus saving fuel.
Thanks to its relatively light fighting weight of 1,100kg, the Captur handles well and gives a smooth ride. It’s not got lightning acceleration (0-100kph in 10.9 seconds) but it’s not meant to.
Instead, enjoy the Captur for what it is: a great compact crossover with small hatchback costs but big car attitude.
Engine: 1.2L Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed automatic 2WD
Top speed: 190kph
Price: From RO5,790
Check this out:
Customisable paint and interior
Cruise control (standard)
Hill assist (standard)
TomTom-based sat nav system(top trims)
Removable and washable seat covers
Audio system with CD and four speakers
Extreme 16-inch hubcaps
Rear parking sensors (top trims)
R-Link with 7-inch touchscreen (top trims)
Rearview camera (top trims)