What Car? says...
The Renault Captur was launched with the kind of perfect timing that would impress a Swiss train driver. It wasn't the first small SUV but it was early enough to ride the crest of a wave that's become a flood of high-riding compact cars.
A big part of the Captur’s success has been its combination of distinctive looks and a splash of customisation – a theme that has allowed it to stand out from the crowd since its very first generation.
While it might look similar to the original on the outside, it's a completely different ball game on the inside and underneath. There are plusher interior plastics, for example, and the Captur has had a slight growth spurt over its predecessor, so there's now more space for passengers and their luggage.
So, whether you already own an original Captur or are thinking about buying one for the first time, it's worth looking beyond the latest car's familiar looks.
Under the bonnet, Renault gives you a choice of a petrol engine with 89bhp or hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) options. The punchiest power figure belongs to the PHEV – called the E-Tech – which combines a petrol engine with an electric motor to reduce emissions and allow you to do some electric-only driving.
This evolution is needed if the Captur is going to stay competitive in the dog-eat-dog world of small SUVs. After all, it’s going to need to face off against the keen-handling Ford Puma, the spacious Skoda Kamiq and the comfort-oriented VW T-Roc (to name just a few rivals).
Should the Renault Captur be on your shortlist, though? That’s what this review will tell you. Read on to find out how it compares with its rivals, what the best engine and trim combinations are, what the performance is like, how good the interior is, how much it will cost to run and more.
That’s not all we can offer, either. We can help you find great savings off the list price of most new makes and models without any haggling when you use our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They list lots of excellent new small SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The engine range for the Renault Captur range kicks off with the TCe 90, an 89bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol that comes exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox. If you're hoping for the peppiness you get from the entry-level Seat Arona, Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Cross you'll find it disappointingly sluggish. There's very little urgency unless you work it hard.
That’s why, if you can, we’d suggest stepping up to the mid-spec E-Tech Hybrid 145, which is a mild-hybrid. It's best suited to trundling around in traffic at low speeds, but is also punchy enough when you put your foot down, sprinting from 0-62mph in 10.6sec. That can’t match the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost 155 MHEV for pace or smoothness though.
At the top of the range sits the 158bhp E-Tech Plug-in Hybrid 160 (PHEV). It’s the quickest version you can buy, officially hitting 0-62mph in just 8.6sec, but its efficiency will arguably be its biggest draw. It can officially drive on electricity alone for around 30 miles.
Suspension and ride comfort
The ride improves as you build speed, but never completely settles. It fidgets, even on a smooth-looking section of motorway, and over bigger dips and crests it can get a bit bouncy. That’s made worse with larger 18in alloy wheels.
The steering is precise enough and light around town, but doesn't build weight reassuringly at faster speeds, so you're never as confident along twisty roads as in a Puma or T-Roc. We aren't blown away by its turning circle, either. Some rivals are more manoeuvrable when you need to execute a quick U-turn.
It also lacks the outright grip and agility of the Puma, which is the best-handling car in the class. That said, there's less body lean than you'd experience in the Citroën C3 Aircross.
The E-Tech mild hybrid is a little more weighty, and the PHEV model is even heavier. That makes the car feel a little less agile than in traditional petrol guise, although the standard car isn't exactly a barrel of laughs anyway.
Noise and vibration
For the most part, the Captur is calm and civilised. Indeed, even when you work the entry-level TCe 90 engine hard, it’s fairly hushed. It does, however, transmit more engine vibration up through the pedals and steering wheel than the Puma.
The hybrids are remarkably quiet in electric mode, emitting little more than some slight motor whine. When needed, the petrol engine chimes in quietly, although the switchover between power sources isn’t as smooth as in some rivals, including the Kia Niro PHEV. The engine remains hushed during gentle acceleration but does sound a bit coarse when you really put your foot down.
Road noise isn’t too annoying, but the Puma and T-Roc suffer from less wind noise at speed and also have much slicker manual gearshifts, compared with the Captur TCe 90’s long and rather vague action. The hybrid versions' automatic gearboxes can be hesitant when pulling away but change gear smoothly.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
If the raised driving position promised by a small SUV is what you’re after, the Renault Captur will appeal. You sit higher up from the road than you do in a Skoda Kamiq for example.
What’s more, the seat, steering wheel and pedals line up well, so you're not sitting at an odd angle, as you do in the Dacia Duster. In fact, our only demerit is that, unlike on rivals including the Ford Puma, the Kamiq and the VW T-Roc, adjustable lumbar support isn't available.
The air-conditioning is operated by physical controls rather than a touchscreen, which is a good thing and keeps distraction to a minimum. You get standard analogue instrument dials if you go for the TCe 90 petrol engine, but they're replaced by a clear digital display if you go for one of the hybrid engines or avoid the entry-level trim.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
While the Captur’s elevated driving position gives you a decent view forwards, helped by narrow windscreen pillars, the news isn't so good when looking back over your shoulder.
Renault has decided to make the Captur look more ‘dynamic’ (its word, not ours) by sweeping the window line up towards the back of the car. That makes seeing what's behind trickier than in the Kamiq and other boxier small SUVs.
The entry-level Evolution trim gets rear parking sensors, while all other trims add front parking sensors and a rear-view camera. All models have full LED headlights, which provide good visibility at night.
Sat nav and infotainment
Evolution and Techno models get a 7.0in landscape-oriented infotainment touchscreen that’s mounted high up on the dashboard. It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and built-in sat-nav. The icons are a bit too small and the screen could be sharper and more responsive.
If you opt for R.S. Line or the E-Tech Engineered trim, you'll get a larger (9.3in) portrait-oriented touchscreen that can show more information. It's better than the smaller screen, but we still rate the system in the Mini Countryman – with its rotary iDrive controller – as one of the best in the class.
The dashboard is pleasingly squishy in places, with more soft-touch plastic than you get in the hard and unyielding interiors of the Duster, the Seat Arona and the VW T-Cross but the rest of the interior plastics look and feel a bit cheap. The Skoda Kamiq and even the Puma feel more robust inside.
If you go for the plug-in hybrid E-Tech or R.S. Line trim, you'll get a steering wheel wrapped in genuine leather rather than the fake stuff. That helps make the Captur feel a little more upmarket, but not by enough to trouble the Nissan Juke or the cheaper Kamiq. The Audi Q2 and the Countryman are the best options in this class if you want to experience proper plushness.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There's less head and leg room in the front of the Renault Captur than there is in the Ford Puma, the Skoda Kamiq or the VW T-Cross. It's still okay for six-footers, though, and because the interior is relatively broad, you won’t be rubbing shoulders with your passenger.
As for storage, there’s a big tray in front of the gearlever and decent-sized door bins, but we wish the cubby under the central armrest was bigger.
Even with its sliding rear seats pushed all the way back, space in the back of the Captur is adequate rather than amazing. A six-footer will find their head is rather close to the roof, and knee room will be tight if there’s someone of a similar height sitting in front. Not helping matters, the roof curves in at the side, so even if your rear passengers aren't that tall, it feels more claustrophobic in the back than in many small SUVs.
When you try to fit three adults in the back, it'll be a squeeze, although the middle passenger will appreciate the decent amount of foot space created by the Captur’s flattish floor. It’s also worth pointing out that E-Tech hybrid models are just as spacious as non-hybrid versions. If you want more rear space, the Mini Countryman and the Kamiq are your best bets.
Seat folding and flexibility
You can slide the rear seats back and forth to prioritise either boot space or rear leg room (as you can in the VW T-Cross). It's a useful feature, and while the base slides as one piece, the rear seatbacks fold in a conventional 60/40 split.
The Countryman is better, though. Its rear seats not only slide, but also recline and split 40/20/40, giving you even greater flexibility.
Renault says the Captur has one of the biggest boots in the class, but there’s a caveat: that’s only if you slide the rear bench all the way forwards, which doesn't leave much rear leg room.
With the bench slid all the way back to maximise rear leg room, boot space is 422 litres. That’s more than you get in most hatchback family cars – including the VW Golf – and we squeezed in six carry-on cases below the parcel shelf. That said, compared with its small SUV peers, it’s not quite as impressive: the Puma swallowed eight cases and the Kamiq took seven.
It's worth bearing in mind that the E-Tech versions (particularly the plug-in hybrid) have smaller boots because of the electrical bits and pieces beneath the floor. You do get a handy cable storage compartment, though.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
As a cash purchase, the Renault Captur’s price tag makes it one of the cheapest mainstream small SUVs, undercutting the Ford Puma and the VW T-Roc. That said, it does cost more than the Skoda Kamiq so we reckon that’s a better purchase if you want to keep costs down. If equipment levels are not important to you, the Dacia Duster and the MG ZS are comparative bargains.
Renault’s PCP finance deals often come with a hefty manufacturer incentive to make them more competitive (see our New Car Deals pages). That's a good thing, because the Captur's resale values aren't as robust as the Puma's, the Kamiq's or the T-Roc's. Insurance costs are not too hefty, but the CO2 emissions of the petrol engine aren't anything to write home about.
The E-Tech hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models are, of course, better and offer very low CO2 emissions. The PHEV will do around 30 miles on electricity alone, according to official figures, making it tempting for company car drivers wanting to keep their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax payments low.
Equipment, options and extras
This is an area where the Captur does well. Even the entry-level Evolution trim won’t leave you feeling short-changed, as it comes with 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, automatic climate control, keyless entry and other kit.
Even so, we’d suggest jumping up to our favourite Techno trim because the price difference isn’t very big and you get extra niceties, including automatic high-beam headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, lane-departure warning, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
We wouldn't go for R.S. Line or E-Tech Engineered because these range-topping trims are too pricey. If you're going to splash that sort of cash, you'd be far better off with a Puma or our favourite small SUV, the T-Roc.
In the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey the Captur didn’t perform particularly well, placing near the bottom of our small SUV leaderboard and below all its key rivals, including the Puma, the Kamiq and the T-Roc.
Things were better for Renault as a manufacturer, which managed to sit around the middle of the overall league table in 18th place out of 32 manufacturers. That puts it below Skoda (13th) but above VW (22nd), Ford (27th) and Fiat (30th).
Every new Renault comes with a three-year warranty, with no mileage limit for the first two years, but a 60,000 mile limit after that. Compared with the offerings from its peers, that’s fairly par for the course, matching Ford and Skoda, but isn’t as generous as Kia’s seven-year warranty. The hybrid versions get an eight-year warranty (with a 100,000-mile limit) on their batteries.
Safety and security
All Capturs get automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and an emergency call function (eCall). That's impressive, and we're pleased Renault hasn't skimped on safety kit with the cheaper trims.
Euro NCAP awarded the Captur five stars (out of five) for overall safety. We drilled down into the details of its report and the Captur stacks up very well against the Nissan Juke and the Kamiq for adult and child occupant protection. It wasn't quite as good as those rivals at protecting pedestrians, though.
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We think the mid-spec E-Tech Hybrid 145 makes sense for most Captur buyers because you don’t have to work it as hard as the entry-level TCe 90. Pairing that with Techno trim gets you most of the kit you’d want, including a height-adjustable front passenger seat, a reversing camera and roof bars, while keeping costs down.
There is no electric car version of the Captur but regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions are offered. The hybrid combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a small battery, allowing it to run on electric power for short distances to save fuel. The PHEV has a bigger battery, which means you can use electric power alone for around 30 miles before you need to recharge.
Evolution is the entry-level trim for the Captur, while Techno is more expensive and adds some useful extra kit. That includes a height-adjustable front passenger seat, a rear-view camera and roof rails. Techo also gets bigger (18in) alloy wheels, synthetic leather interior details and has a contrasting colour for the roof and door mirrors.
|RRP price range||£22,495 - £34,195|
|Number of trims (see all)||6|
|Number of engines (see all)||3|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||217.3 - 60.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,278 / £1,517|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,557 / £3,034|