The Renault Captur is another addition to the booming supermini/SUV market, which is tempting buyers into paying extra for hatchbacks with added space and practicality.
As it happens, Renault thinks a premium of around 1500 over the Clio on which the Captur is based will make it competitive in the segment. It's designed to take on such rivals as the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 and their less impressive supermini underpinnings may already gift the Renault an early advantage.
When we previewed the Captur with our Reader Test Team, the funky design and interior space went down well, but some of our readers were a little unsure about the more unconventional colour combinations.
With that in mind, we kept the charcoal interior fairly restrained, picking piano black accents rather than orange, and resisted the flamboyant detailing offered on the steering wheel and seats. On the other hand, we did want the stylish exterior to stand out, so chose Arizona orange metallic paint (595), a Diamond Black roof and gloss black accents around the sills, bumper and bootlid. The interior and exterior accents, as well as the painted roof, come as a style pack costing 550.
Standard features on every Captur include cruise control, four airbags, a radio/CD system with Bluetooth, aux-in and USB connections, front and rear electric windows and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Cars with the five-speed manual gearbox also get stop-start technology and an Eco Mode function. This modifies the Captur's acceleration, torque and power management, as well as the heating and air-conditioning, to improve fuel economy. As with our Honda Civic, a dashboard indicator changes colour to highlight your driving efficiency moving from green when you're running frugally, to yellow and then orange if you're accelerating hard.
To get all the kit we wanted, we chose Dynamique MediaNav trim, which includes climate control, keyless entry and push-button start; an integrated seven-inch colour touch-screen infotainment system with satellite-navigation, leather-covered steering wheel and gearlever, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Our trim level also marks the entry point for the removable seat covers that went down a storm with our readers. They're machine-washable, so should make a fruit juice spill or chocolate smudge far easier to clean from the fabric.
The Captur's clever tricks extend to a versatile boot shelf that can be removed, repositioned or reversed. As with many of its rivals, when the shelf is placed at sill height it covers a second stowage space, allowing you to separate loads or keep valuables out of sight. Better still, the Renault's shelf is also double-sided normal carpet on one surface and a wipe-down rubbery finish on the other, which protects the interior from muddy clothing or footwear.
With the shelf removed, boot capacity is 377 litres, which increases to 455 litres if the rear seat bench is slid fully forward. The 60/40-split folding seats leave a step in the floor when they're fully collapsed, but they still allow the Captur a decent 1235 litres. Maximum capacity is 40 litres up on the Peugeot 2008 and 90 litres on the Clio, and even the latter has more space than the Nissan Juke.
We went for the efficient 1.5-litre diesel engine mated to the manual gearbox. It produces 89bhp and 162lb ft of torque, for a claimed fuel economy of 76.4mpg and CO2 emissions of just 95g/km. As youll guess, the Captur isn't a brisk car 0-62mph takes 13.1 seconds so overtaking requires forethought and a bit of work through the gears.
Initial impressions of the car are good it's certainly very stylish, and with the exception of an unsettled ride, the driving experience is generally better than its rivals offer at this price. The pedals are responsive the clutch in particular is satisfyingly meaty and it's an easy car to drive smoothly.
As I say, the Captur's official fuel economy is 76.4mpg, and, yes, trip computer averages should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but I saw 72.1mpg on my first journey. Even if the real-world economy is 10% less flattering than the read-out indicates, that would still mean more than 60mpg, which will help keep the fuel bills low for my daily 100-mile round-trip commute.
List price 16,395
Target price 16,395
Extras Metallic paint (595); exterior colour pack (550)
Test fuel economy tbc
True MPG tbc
Official fuel economy 76.4mpg
CO2/tax liability 95g/km/14%
Contract hire tbc
Cost per mile tbc
Insurance group tbc
Typical quote tbc
By Ed Callow