Renault's Captur crossover has been improved, but certainly not beyond recognition. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the base TCe 90 petrol version.
Ten Second Review
The improved version of Renault's little Captur Crossover model aims to deliver a blend of the character and ruggedness of an SUV, the space and practicality of an MPV and the dynamics and driving refinement of a family hatchback. That's asking a lot, but this Clio-based design delivers plenty, with some genuinely clever interior touches and no small dose of style, plus some super-economical engines like the TCe90 unit featured here.
If you're a volume brand these days, you simply have to offer a 'B'-segment supermini-based Crossover SUV. Here's the one they all have to beat: Renault's Captur. Renault are keen for us to know that the front end styling has been brought into line with that of the brand's larger Kadjar and Koleos SUVs, while inside, there are better seats, a new steering wheel and a smarter dash. There's also more electronic technology to please typical Captur customers. For older folk, things like blind spot monitoring and a self-parking set-up. And for younger buyers? Well what about an improved R-Link infotainment package offering 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring? And the option of a thumping BOSE premium sound system?
But will that be enough to ensure continued sales success for this little SUV? Let's put this car to the test in base TCE 90 petrol form and find out.
Very little's changed with regard to the driving experience of this improved Captur but Renault argued that very little needed to. To some extent, we'd agree with that. Thanks to an 'understeer control' system and 'Roll Movement Intervention' technology, this Renault handles the bends quite eagerly. Not so good is the rather firm suspension set-up, which crashes over larger bumps but does more comfortably settle down on faster flowing roads. As before, almost all customers will choose a 90bhp model - ether the popular 1.5-litre dCi 90 diesel or the three cylinder 0.9-litre TCe 90 petrol unit we're looking at here.
Unless you really require the dCi 90 unit's lusty 220Nm of torque, the revvy 0.9-litre three cylinder TCe 90 petrol powerplant could actually be all that's necessary for satisfying urban-based Captur ownership. Yes, eager progress in a TCe variant does entail more work with the light-shifting 5-speed gearstick than would be the case in a dCi, but ultimate performance is pretty much the same. Both engines get from rest to 62mph in a fraction over 13 seconds en route to a 106mph maximum.
Design and Build
The styling's certainly a great deal more eye-catching than that of the Clio supermini this model's based upon, especially at the front where on this facelifted model, C-shaped LED lights now feature as part of headlamp clusters that can be specified to incorporate full-LED 'Pure Vision' beams.
Behind the wheel, you get the all-important raised seating set-up that Crossover buyers like so much, the Captur positioning you 10cm higher than you would be in the Clio supermini it's based upon. Look around and if you happen to be familiar with this car in its original form, you should notice a classier ambiance with upgraded materials and, we reckon, better standards of fit and finish from the Spanish factory. For this facelift, Renault has focused on the areas you more frequently touch and interact with, hence the smarter steering wheel, the higher quality dash plastics, the revised gearstick and the re-styled door panels which feature a more intuitive switchgear layout.
In the back, the stretching that's taken place on the Clio supermini platform has released enough space to make the back seat pretty much as roomy as it would be in a Focus-sized family hatch. All variants get a pretty unique feature in this class, a sliding rear bench that moves backwards or forwards by up to 160mm (though only as one unit), enabling you to prioritise either legroom or bootspace. Out back, there's a 377-litre boot, exendable to as much as 455-litres if you push the bench forward.
Market and Model
Originally, the Captur was one of the most affordable small SUVs available, but since launch, Renault has gradually tried to move its price up-market. It's still possible to get an entry-level TCe 90 model for under £16,000, but the rest of the range is now priced much higher, with TCe 90 variants priced up to around £18,500. There's no 4WD option. These prices represent a premium of between £1,400 and £1,800 over equivalently powered and specified versions of the five-door Clio supermini upon which Renault has based this car.
Equipment-wise, virtually all models get air conditioning and front foglights. And absolutely all of them get alloy wheels, daytime running lights, cruise control with a speed limiter, a trip computer, a height-adjustable driver's seat, power front windows and mirrors, Bluetooth 'phone compatibility, a decent quality USB and AUX-in-compatible CD stereo with fingertip control, plus Hill Start Assist to stop you from drifting backwards on uphill junctions. Popular options include the R-Link infotainment system with its downloadable apps. And removable, zip-fastened seat covers.
Cost of Ownership
The Captur delivers a set of impressively economical running cost figures. This TCe 90 petrol unit is perhaps the most interesting powerplant option, a three-cylinder 899cc petrol engine that manages to return 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 114g/km. The returns I've quoted for this car assume that you've activated the 'ECO' mode, accessible via this button on the centre console. This delivers fuel savings of up to 10% by slightly restricting the engine's pulling power, adopting a more efficient control programme for the air conditioning and heating systems and, in the case of EDC automatic models, switching to more efficient gearchange software mapping.
Another strong buying incentive is the comprehensive warranty. Instead of the limiting three year/60,000 mile package you get with many rivals, there's coverage for up to 100,000 miles - and in the first two years, there's no mileage limit at all. This warranty comes as part of the 'Renault 4+' package that the brand offers on all its models, a deal that for the four year period also gets you AA roadside assistance and free servicing (excluding wear and tear items). Overall, the brand reckons that the '4+' initiative will save buyers around £1,000 in ongoing costs.
And in summary? Well, if you didn't want a Captur before, then it's unlikely that what's been done here will be enough to change your mind. If you did, then this mid-term wash 'n brush-up could be just the ticket in terms of pushing you over the edge into signing that cheque. As for issues with this Renault, well of course there are a few. The ride quality remains poorer than we'd like - a frequent problem in this segment. And we wish that the car had stayed as affordable as it was at the original launch.
Otherwise, there's not much to complain about within the limitations common to the many SUVs of this kind now filling our roads. This is in short, still a very clever Crossover. And if you really want a car of this kind, then you'll really want to try it.