New Renault Captur vs Ford Puma vs Skoda Kamiq
As the latest member of the small SUV club, the new Renault Captur's first challenge is to try and gain the upper hand over five-star rivals from Ford and Skoda...
Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost 125 mHEV Titanium
- List price - £20,845
- Target Price - £19,916
The top-spec Puma is our Car of the Year; can this entry-level model impress us just as much?
NEW Renault Captur TCe 100 Iconic
- List price - £19,095
- Target Price - £18,548
Based on the latest Clio, the second-generation Captur has clever rear seats and a keen price.
Skoda Kamiq 1.0 TSI 115 SE
- List price - £19,935
- Target Price - £17,421
Roomy, comfortable and good value, the Kamiq is a strong contender in this mid-range guise.
The problem with being at the top of your game is that there’s always someone trying to topple you. Take the Ford Puma. Despite winning our overall Car of the Year gong in January, there’s already a brand new Renault Captur gunning for it.
The original Captur was a smash hit, thanks to funky looks, a clever interior and keen pricing, and this second-generation version promises all of those attributes but with a bit more polish. We’ve got our hands on an entry-level TCe 100 in mid-rung Iconic trim, which costs well under £20,000.
Because of the Captur’s bargain price, we’ve lined up a Puma in entry-level Titanium trim with the least powerful engine in the line-up: a 123bhp 1.0-litre petrol. With an asking price of just over £20,000, is it worth the extra?
Our final contender is the Skoda Kamiq, which has impressed us in match-ups against the Kia Stonic and Volkswagen T-Cross. For the first time, it’s appearing here in 1.0 TSI 115 SE form, which could be the sweet spot of the range.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Although it doesn’t have much less power on paper, the Captur is well off the pace here. Whereas the Kamiq and Puma can cover 0-60mph and 30-70mph in about 9.5sec, the Captur takes a full two seconds longer. That’s not good on a short motorway slip road with a car full of people. The Captur also has flat spots in its power delivery, where acceleration seems to tail off, only to increase again as engine revs rise further.
Special mention should go to the Puma’s mild hybrid technology. It can’t drive the car on electricity alone, but a small electric motor attached to the engine boosts low-rev urgency and improves fuel economy. That means the Puma pulls from as little as 1000rpm – 500rpm earlier than the Kamiq and nearly 1000rpm sooner than the Captur, so you have adequate acceleration from lower engine speeds. Changing gears is a joy in the Puma, too, while the Kamiq’s gearshift is also slick, but the Captur’s is long and a bit vague.
The Captur’s engine can’t match the Kamiq’s and Puma’s for refinement, either. The only downside to the Puma’s engine is that it sounds boomy when it’s asked to pull hard from low revs in a high gear, something the Kamiq avoids. Around town, the Puma’s automatic stop-start system works almost imperceptibly, thanks to the hybrid tech. The Kamiq fires up again smartly, too, but the Captur takes ages to wake up and is frustratingly easy to stall.
Overall, the Puma is the quietest at 70mph, with the least wind and road noise. You’ll notice more gustiness in the Kamiq, along with some slight engine noise, but the Captur suffers most from wind noise and there’s a bit of whine from the gearbox.
As for ride quality, the Kamiq is the most comfortable of our contenders on all types of roads. Its suspension is soft without being wallowy, and only particularly vicious ruts and bumps can be felt through your backside.
The Captur somehow manages to feel firmer than the Kamiq, fidgeting more over imperfect asphalt, even though it lollops around far more over undulating road surfaces. As a result, the Puma gets the silver medal for comfort, even though it has the firmest suspension here. That’s because it quickly recovers its composure after negotiating a bump, whereas the Captur wobbles around for a second or two after.
The Puma is also the best through corners, with plenty of grip balanced evenly front to rear, not much body lean and a real feeling of agility. Impressively, the firmer ST-Line models handle even more sharply with little impact on ride comfort.
The Kamiq leans a little more than the Puma but has plenty of grip and good balance, so it handles tidily. While the Puma’s steering gives you a slightly better sense of connection to the front tyres, the Kamiq’s is far better than the Captur’s, which is overly light and vague. The Captur also has the least front-end grip and the most lean, discouraging you from trying to drive it quickly.
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