By: Tom Lawson
EX’s resident motoring expert Tom Lawson puts the Renault Captur through its paces.
I have always liked Laurens van den Acker’s style influence on things automobile. The interior of the completely lunatic Bugatti quad turbo, once part of Michael Schumacher’s stable of vehicles, shows just where he’s coming from. And when you look at the hip styling of the Captur, one of the offerings from the Renault design studios since van den Acker took over the helm, you can see the touch of a man passionate about his art.
Of course, the ever-growing compact SUV-crossover segment of the market has heavy competition and the Captur, Renault’s first effort in this category, is set firmly against the likes of its sibling, the Nissan Juke, and the somewhat-less-cool Ford Eco Sport and Peugeot 2008. It’s a little less expensive than the Juke, and as the other two aren’t available in Singapore, it ends up in its own short space.
Yes, it looks like it should be a 4X4 – muscular contours abound – but this is definitely only a front-wheel-drive soft-roader, so I am surprised to find extraneous bits intruding into the cabin floor. They reduce the back legroom in the middle, and I would not want to play piggy there for more than a quick run down the road.
That said, with the rear seat slid back there is plenty of space behind the front seats for two adults. This facility comes at some expense to the cargo space, which even so is a useful 370 litres. With the back seats forward you get 455 litres (but then the legs of those two adults will be squeezed); with the 60:40-split rear seat down, this load space becomes a very generous 1,235 litres.
A nice touch is the reversible boot floor mat – plastic on one side for the wet dog and carpet on the other; and, talking of nice touches, the base of each door has been cleverly designed so you don’t get that annoying dirty line you sometimes find on the back of your trouser legs.
The driving position is multi-adjustable and comfortable enough, though it could do with more lateral support. And, in some models, you even get zippered removable seat covers. Plenty of airbags, stability control, anti-whiplash headrests and hill control all contribute to its five star safety assessment from Euro NCAP.
I suppose that as it is based on the fourth generation Clio, the Captur was always going to be fun to drive; and the engineers have done a good job with the suspension, keeping this higher-riding vehicle flat in the corners and delivering a ride that is firm but not uncomfortable. With its good low-rev torque, the 1.5-litre diesel engine manages to move the Captur’s fairly light 1,100kg around town in a relatively zippy manner, and gives an easy ride on the freeway. The steering is quick and light, also ideal in the urban environment.
All in all, it gets a thumbs-up. It’s just a pity that, despite the multitude of funky interior options available in Europe, the choice here is a little on the conservative side, and drivers on our side of the road miss out on the sliding drawer glove compartment. Check out the Captur at your local Renault dealer.
New and management units are priced from S$99,999 (plus, five-year warranty). Orders and enquires can be made through Wearnes Automative.