Back in 2013, when Renault decided to dive headfirst into the booming small SUV market, we were rather taken by its handsome Captur. Based on the sharp-handling Clio hatchback, it quickly established itself as a credible rival to cars such as the innovative Nissan Juke and formidable Skoda Yeti. With a flexible interior, efficient engines and a range of customisable trims, it’s no surprise that it quickly earned the accolade of being Europe's best-selling 'crossover'.
And yet the small SUV market has moved on at a truly startling rate since the Captur arrived, with new models such as the Suzuki Vitara and the larger but similarly priced Skoda Karoq offering a more convincing blend of practicality and performance. Therefore, for 2017, Renault has treated its entry-level SUV to a comprehensive mid-life facelift, in the hope of keeping it competitive for the foreseeable future.
With a great deal of the Captur’s popularly attributable to its adventurous styling, it makes sense that most of the Captur's visual updates revolve around new personalisation options, rather than revised body panels. Up front, a new chrome strip on the grille, as well as new skid plates on the front and rear bumpers help bring the Captur’s styling closer to its bigger sister, the Kadjar, while LED daytime running lights round off its upmarket look.
Unsurprisingly, the 2017 Captur keeps the previous car's recognisable two-tone body colour option, but buyers now get another three colours to choose from, as well as a new roof colour. A fixed glass roof is also available, depending on the trim level you choose. Unfortunately, though, there are no mechanical changes.
What's the 2017 Renault Captur like to drive?
Dynamically, the Captur has never been the most engaging car in its class, and sadly, that hasn’t changed here. On fast and flowing roads, it's nimble enough through the corners, but a shortage of feedback from the steering and a surprising amount of body roll robs the driver of any real enjoyment.
Instead, it’s best to stroke the Captur along at a more relaxed pace. In fact, it’s at low speeds, in an urban environment where this small SUV feels most at home. Renault has made good use of the Captur's increased ride height with its longer suspension travel compared with the Clio its based on allowing for a comfortable ride over ruinous surfaces. Combined with a high-riding, sit-up-and-beg driving position, threading the Captur through tight city streets couldn’t be easier.
Engine options are carried over from the outgoing model, so there's a 0.9-litre petrol, 1.2-litre petrol or 1.5-litre diesel that produce between 89bhp and 118bhp. The latter has a pleasing amount of low down shove, and is a good option if you do lots of motorway miles thanks to its impressive frugality – the Captur pretty much matches the eco-focused diesel Vauxhall Crossland X Ecotech Blueinjection, with an offical combined fuel economy of 76.3mpg, versus the Vauxhall's 76.4. Just be aware that you pay a big premium for a diesel Captur over the reasonably-priced 0.9-litre petrol engine version in the first place.
Ultimately, for private buyers, the 0.9 is the best option. Not only do you benefit from a reasonable entry-level price, but the engine’s power delivery makes the Captur ideal for driving around town, feeling grunty at low revs and far more refined than any of the diesel units. The only downside is that you’re restricted to a manual gearbox, which could be frustrating if you find yourself commuting in heavy traffic.
What's the 2017 Renault Captur like inside?
At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference inside, but look closer and you start to notice small yet significant changes. The interior benefits from higher-quality plastics throughout, the steering wheel and gearstick come trimmed with full-grain leather (in our range-topping Signature S Nav trim test car, at least) and the door panels have been reprofiled to give a sleeker appearance.
That said, there is only so much that can be done to lift what is essentially a redesigned Clio. Compared with the Karoq, there’s no doubt that the Captur is starting to show its age both in terms of materials and design. Even the once class-leading R-Link infotainment system - which now comes with Android Auto smartphone mirroring - lacks the responsiveness and clarity of the Volkswagen Group’s latest systems.
Where the Renault still impresses, however, is in its interior flexibility. A sliding rear bench comes as standard, and is particularly useful because it can be adjusted either by those sitting on it, via a lever underneath the seat, or by someone leaning in from the boot, via a lever that protrudes from the seatbacks.
The Captur’s load space is equally practical. There’s a variable-height boot floor on all models, which in its lowest position brings the floor flush with the rear seats when they're folded down - ideal for maximum storage. The boot opening is also of a practical square shape.
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