2013 Renault Captur review
* Clio-based small SUV driven in UK * Supermini dimensions; MPV interior functionality * On sale now, priced from 12,495...
It's a risk with crossovers 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 ride and 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 car is only marginally bigger than the Clio) 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 five-speed manual gearbox, while a 1.2 turbo petrol is available with a six-speed auto only.
What's the 2013 Renault Captur like to drive?
More hatchback than SUV. Despite the high driving position, the Captur feels fairly squat from the driver's seat and not like a 'soft-roader' 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, and 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 the tiniest imperfections in the surface of the road. This can become tiring on long motorway journeys.
We've tested the 1.5 dCi and auto-only 1.2 TCe, which both deliver adequate performance in sedate use even up to motorway speeds. However, both feel strained when you want to make more vigorous progress.
The manual gearbox in the diesel is smooth enough, but the six-speed automatic can be hesitant to respond from a standstill and dim-witted in any remotely taxing driving.
Still, throttle and brake pedal responses are good in both, so the Captur is an easy car to drive smoothly.
The Captur is also quite refined. The petrol engine is the smoother and quieter of the two we tried, but even the diesel stays hushed unless you really thrash it. The rear suspension can get noisy on bumps 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 loads 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 theres more rear headroom 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 finishes the Captur's arsenal of tricks to help make family life that little bit easier.
Should I buy one?
If you want something a bit quirky, that's not cumbersome to drive or park, but that offers a properly useable interior, the Captur is well worth a look.
Its better to drive than rivals such as the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, and while its not quite as big or complete as a Skoda Yeti, it is significantly cheaper both to buy and to run.
What Car? says...
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
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
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