Renault Captur 1.5 dCi Dynamique Media Nav
Read the full Renault Captur review
It’s not often that you can dedicate an entire 12 months to one type of car, but 2013 really was the year of the small SUV. Rarely have so many rivals been launched at the same time, as manufacturers tried to rush out their answer to the Nissan Juke.
Out of all of them, the Renault Captur was the one that we were really eager to try. Right from the off the jacked-up Clio looked better-proportioned than the regular hatchback on which it was based, and it seemed to have enough of the right ingredients to become a real star.
As it turns out, our faith wasn’t misplaced, because during its time with us the Captur has seen off almost every rival, including the Juke, Peugeot 2008, Ford Ecosport, Kia Soul and Mitsubishi ASX. Only the Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI managed to steal a win from Renault, and even then you’d pay a fair bit more for it.
Our car was the 89bhp 1.5 diesel; it seemed the most economical choice, considering that my daily commute is a 100-mile round trip.
Standard kit included a supremely practical boot floor. It has a fabric finish on one side and a wipe-clean rubber finish on the other, and can be positioned to wedge carrier bags in place so they don’t roll around and spill groceries on the move.
You also get removable, washable seat covers. They can be unzipped in minutes and cleaned in the washing machine. It’s a brilliant feature that means stains from your crayon-wielding kids or wet, muddy dog are no longer something to worry about.
On the face of it, the cabin is roughly the same size as a Clio’s but we found it much more practical. The rear bench splits 60/40 and folds easily. It can also slide forwards as a single unit, increasing the boot space from 377 to 455 litres. It’s just a shame that the rear seats can’t be moved as two separate parts. Lumbar support for the driver would be a welcome addition, too.
Chrome and gloss black accents all around the interior give it some sparkle, but the quality isn’t as good as rivals can offer. Most of the plastics you interact with on a daily basis feel hard and fairly cheap. That said, the dash was still scratch-free after a year of use.
Central to the fascia is the colour touch-screen R-Link infotainment system, which I found easy to use and packed with features. Unfortunately, it needed multiple updates to iron out bugs. At one point the sat-nav refused to find the installed maps on the SD card and needed a full reset.
Elsewhere, the car’s trip computer had the odd glitch, suggesting at one point that I’d achieved 53.3mpg at 5814mph. After that we had a volume knob problem, where it only adjusted the sat-nav’s audio and not the radio’s, and finally it had a complete hissy fit and shut down when I tried to connect an iPod.
On the road the Captur was something of a mixed bag. I thought it felt very refined when pottering around town and hushed at the national limit on the motorway. However, the low-speed ride never really settled and the steering didn’t weight up as much as you’d like when pressing on.
The manual gearbox was also far too notchy, and our car’s diesel engine felt underpowered. It was flexible enough in the mid-range, but you needed to work it hard to pick up speed quickly. Still, it proved to be very economical; a real-world return of around 50mpg was the norm for us, and with the Eco mode switched on that figure it leapt up by around 15%.
Servicing costs were impressive, too; our first service weighed in at just over £95, although it’s worth remembering that this check-up didn’t include an oil and filter change.
Over the past year the Captur has proved that it isn’t just a worthy alternative to conventional hatchbacks. For families who want a small, stylish and versatile car on a budget, this little Renault is in many ways the better choice.
Price when new £16,395
Price now new £16,395
Extras Arizona metallic paint (£495); Diamond black painted roof (£300); R-Link multimedia system (£450); Diamond black exterior gloss pack (£75)
Total price when new £17,715
Current part-ex value £11,347
Overall fuel economy 50.2mpg
Worst fuel economy 31.3mpg
Best fuel economy 61.7mpg
True MPG 58.3mpg
Official economy 76.4mpg
CO2 tax liability 99g/km/15%
Contract hire £214pcm
Cost per mile 33.6p
Insurance group/quote 12/£435
Servicing and repair costs
First year service £90.65
By Ed Callow