It's a risk with SUVs such as the new Renault Captur that by mixing elements of many types of car, you lose the core strengths of any one of them.
This is what the swoopy looking, Clio-based Captur must avoid as it aims to blend the interior versatility of an MPV with the high-up seating position of an SUV, and the dynamics of a hatchback.
The MPV parts come from a high roof and a sliding rear bench (although the Captur is only marginally bigger than the Clio supermini), while the butch bodykit and jacked-up suspension add an SUV flavour, even though the Captur is available only with two-wheel drive.
Engines range from a 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol to a super-economical 1.5-litre diesel. Both come with a five-speed manual gearbox, while a 1.2 turbo petrol is available only with a six-speed auto 'box.
What’s the 2013 Renault Captur like to drive?
Despite the lofty driving position, the Captur feels fairly squat from the driver's seat and not like a big 4x4 at all.
It grips well in corners and while there's a reasonable amount of body roll, the Captur feels more stable and planted than a Nissan Juke or a Peugeot 2008. The steering is decent, too; it's light with predictable responses, but not so quick that it makes the car feel twitchy on the motorway.
The Captur's fairly supple suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps and potholes in urban environments, although things get slightly fussier the faster you go. You're never tossed around uncomfortably, but are always aware of small road surface imperfections, which can become tiring on long motorway journeys.
The ride is even better in the lighter 0.9 petrol. However, this version does sway around more through bends, which can be unnerving at faster speeds. The diesel feels more planted on A-roads and motorways.
All three engines deliver adequate performance in most situations, even up to motorway speeds. However, they also all feel strained when you want to make livelier progress. The diesel’s stronger mid-range makes it the best bet if you regularly venture out of town.
The manual gearboxes in the diesel and 0.9 petrol are precise enough, but the six-speed auto in the 1.2 petrol can be hesitant to respond from a standstill.
Still, throttle and brake pedal responses are good in all versions, so the Captur is an easy car to drive smoothly.
The Captur is also quite refined. The 118bhp petrol is the smoothest and quietest of the three engines we’ve tried, but even the diesel and the smaller petrol stay hushed unless you really thrash them.
The rear suspension can get noisy on bumpy roads, and the door mirrors whip up some wind noise at 70mph, but road noise is well suppressed.
What’s the 2013 Renault Captur like inside?
So far we've tried only high-spec Media Nav models, which get a smart and user-friendly touch-screen.
However, while the Captur's dashboard looks interesting enough, the plastics that it's built from feel hard and cheap compared with those in the rival Peugeot 2008.
Driver comfort is more impressive, because there's plenty of headroom and the high-set seat and steering wheel offer a good range of adjustment. That said, the front seats are a bit short on lower back support.
Rear-seat passengers over six feet tall will also find their knees touching the seat in front when they sit behind a similar-sized driver, although there’s more rear headroom available than in a Nissan Juke.
The Captur's boot is much bigger than a Juke's, too, and it's easy to extend because the rear seats can be slid back and forth via a handle on the back of the backrest, or a lever under the seat squab.
It's a shame that this bench-style seat can only be moved as one whole unit, but the backrests split and fold 60/40.
A variable boot floor completes the Captur's spec to help make family life that little bit easier.
Should I buy one?
If you want something a bit quirky, that isn't cumbersome to drive or park, but offers a properly useable interior, the Captur is well worth a look.
It's much better to drive than rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, and while it’s not quite as big or complete as a Skoda Yeti, it is significantly cheaper – both to buy and to run.
The 1.2 petrol is the most refined engine, but also the most expensive and is available only in combination with the slow to respond automatic gearbox. The 0.9 makes more sense if you want a petrol, but don't discount the diesel is you do lots of miles, because it's likely to be far more fuel-efficient in real-world driving.
**What Car? says...
Renault Captur 0.9 TCe
Engine size 0.9-litre turbo
Price from £12,495
Torque 100lb ft
0-62mph 13.0 seconds
Top speed 106mph
Fuel economy 56.5mpg
Renault Captur 1.2 TCe
Engine size 1.2-litre turbo
Price from £17,195
Torque 140lb ft
0-62mph 10.9 seconds
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 52.3mpg
Renault Captur 1.5 dCi
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from £13,895
Torque 162lb ft
0-62mph 13.1 seconds
Top speed 106mph
Fuel economy 76.4mpg