The Renault Captur is a mini sport utility vehicle (SUV) which was revealed in 2013 at the Geneva Motor Show.
In fact, the Captur was the French motor manufacturer’s first expedition into the popular crossover market. The Captur is tall and spacious like a 4x4 off-roader, but it’s based on a normal hatchback – the Renault Clio.
There are two petrol engines and these are easy to identify as they come in 0.9 and a 1.2-litre variants, but the 1.2 is kitted out as standard with an automatic gearbox. Don’t go for this one unless you can only drive automatic cars, because the automatics have limited performance and reduced fuel economy.
As an alternative, hunt down a used diesel Captur. It’s not the fastest car on the block, but it’s fine for shorter out of town commutes and makes a good school-run motor. The model can do almost 75 miles to the gallon and it costs nothing to tax.
What’s more, the engine is acceptably calm at normal road speeds and it’s hooked up to a five-speed manual gearbox that has a slick and friendly action. Another point to mention is that a convenient engine start button is standard fit and a proper traditional handbrake lever is installed, rather than the fashionable electric button arrangement.
Ride and handling
Other than its raised driving position, which allows for an awesome view of the road, the Renault Captur feels very like the Clio to drive. The Captur has that typical SUV, rugged, eye-catching look to it, but this is no four-wheel-drive car and it won’t handle off-road terrain.
Its effortless steering means manoeuvres at low speeds are easy, but makes it feel a tad jittery in bends. Body roll is far more noticeable than the Clio when entering or exiting bends on, say, winding county roads.
That said, on the straights, or in town, the Captur rides well but, again, it can start to feel nervous and unsettled if driven over patchy, potholed road surfaces.
Safety is good with Euro NCAP awarding a top five-star safety rating. Standard safety kit includes six airbags as standard, three ISOFIX mountings for child seats, and electronic stability control (ESC).
Although it’s very similar to the Renault Clio under the metal, the Captur’s tall stature means it has a lot more room inside. There is loads of space up front for adults and the rear seats can slide backwards to provide more legroom for two adult passengers, or two kids in child seats.
However, apart from a reasonably deep cubby hole incorporated into the top of the dashboard, cabin storage space is at a bit of a premium. Equipment levels are good on all Capturs, and includes air conditioning, cruise control and a Bluetooth system.
Keyless entry is also standard, which is uncommon for a motor in this category. The Renault Captur’s 450-litre boot is also considerably larger than its Clio cousin, so getting a folded pushchair in and a few bags of shopping is not a problem.
There is also a hard boot floor that splits the rear luggage space and creates a sizeable, and concealed, storage space. The plastics in the cabin and boot are a bit cheap and scratchy, but this is about the only area that is a sign of the Captur’s budget price-tag – new or used.On the bright side, the plastics will be easy to wipe down.
Another neat touch is zippable seat upholstery, which can be taken off and put in the washing machine or replaced completely.
What to know before you buy
The French automaker deliberately kept costs low when the Captur first came out. That is great news if you are buying the car used because it’s obviously even cheaper on secondhand car forecourts.
There are no major Renault Captur reliability problems and, while the cabin doesn’t always feel particularly premium, it’s made out of hard wearing and easy to clean materials.
As mentioned earlier, running costs are a strong point, but on the other hand, lacklustre performance is the real price to be paid.
The Peugeot 2008 is also worth looking at, although the Captur does stand out from the crowd more and has a larger boot than the 2008.
However, it can’t equal the Peugeot 2008 for build quality or driving etiquette. Additionally, the 2008 is faster, almost as comfortable and cost-effective, and it handles far more compellingly than the Captur.
The Nissan Juke is also a Captur rival. While the Juke is a funky looking car, with hearty engines and plenty of kit, its cramped cabin and petite boot doesn’t make it a particularly realistic vehicle for a big family.
The Renault Captur is a pleasing and good value car. It doesn’t give a particularly thrilling driving experience, but that is not the point. It’s attractive inside and out, and offers an elevated driving position, decent practicality and good comfort.
It’s well priced and kitted-out, too. Add in low running costs, and it makes a good value used car proposition for a small family.