Cape Town - Renault's Captur crossover is possibly one of the snazziest vehicle produced by the automaker yet. It’s fancy enough to be considered premium though onlookers aren't too sure what to make it of it.
This little curb-hopper has serious competition in South Africa’s growing small SUV market.
Earlier in 2016, Renault fitted Captur with a new 1.5-litre diesel engine, coinciding with the launch of a limitd edition called Sunset.
It's a relatively small SUV powered by a 'small' engine that must make a big impact, then. Hmm…
Given its stiff competition from local rivals such as the Ford EcoSport and even its SUV sibling, the Duster, the cards look stacked against the Captur. Perhaps, it has an ace up its sleeve.
It’s been a while since I’ve driven a car that has attracted as much attention as the Captur but considering the crossovers looks, it’s easy to understand the attention it garners. The grey and black colour tone gives the SUV a funky, cool appearance while simultaneously giving it an air of modesty.
Smooth curves, flowing lines, crossover size... everything comes together for an impactful design that boasts that x-factor.
READ: Renault Captur crossover launched in SA
One onlooker exclaimed: “Ooh, this car is *beaula!"
Nevertheless, with its 18” wheels, big headlights and a well-rounded rear the Captur’s design is solid and appealing.
The cupcake challenge
During the test period, the Captur dealt with load of city driving, bumper-to-bumper traffic as well as the open road. At one point it was used to transport many cupcakes to a party, all stacked in boxes and filling the Captur’s boot to the brim. From the collection point to the drop-off, I was forced to navigate pothole-chocked roads and many speedbumps.
It required fine navigating but the Captur’s suspension proved solid and capable. Even at slow speeds the poor condition of the road put the vehicle to the test. Fortunately, the cupcakes remained in place without moving an inch. The little SUV remained composed and undeterred by the pressure that was placed on it. A celebratory cupcake never tasted as good!
READ: Captur the Sunset: Renault's limited edition SUV in SA
Apart from being able to transport cupcakes, the Captur’s ride quality is surprisingly good and steering is well balanced.
Space enough for five
It has a 377-litre boot but it's insufficient for a family with associated luggage. The bottom boot cover can be removed and the rear seats folded to increase boot space to 1235 litres. Inside the Captur occupants are treated to just enough room to be comfortable. The three rear passengers can move relatively freely, while the driver and front passenger are freed from any space limitations.
A boon is the Captur’s multimedia system. It is by far one of the easiest I’ve experienced in its market, devoid of fancy gimmicks and overall highly responsive and intuitive. Connecting a smartphone via Bluetooth is completed with ease, while the USB and Aux connectivity can be, though shouldn't, be done on the fly. Navigating menus and various settings is incredibly easy.
That diesel engine, though!
The biggest surprise of this Captur is its diesel engine. Displacing only 1.5-litres, the four-cylinder unit develops a grunty 66kW/220Nm. Below 2000rpm the engine feels a little unresponsive to throttle inputs but a few seconds thereafter, it surges forward in typical a diesel-powered fashion.
The five-speed manual gearbox does well to help keep fuel consumption down to a minimum, though a proper six-speed auto would fit this SUV like a glove. Renault claims a fuel return of 3.6-litres/100km though I averaged 5.4-litres. It’s not bad at allespecially given the strenuous demands that were placed on the Captur.
The engine sounds a little scruffy during early morning (read: cold) start-ups, but once optimal temperatures have been reached it silences out and becomes barely noticeable. The clutch pedal has a slight mechanical feel but that does little to deter from the Captur’s lekker ride.
The Renault Captur is a somewhat understated offering. Its compact design and funky looks lend it to be received as an SUV that is not serious about its business. In truth, the Captur is every bit as appealing to drive as it is to look at. It makes for an ideal vehicle to tackle trips with and by the end of each month you would barely have broken the bank.
Price: R289 900
Janine Van der Post - The French automaker is what I like to call a ‘sleeper’ auromaker company. Its cars are stylish, reliable and quite popular (at least in Europe) yet they still manage to fly under the radar. Take the Sandero for example, no one really talks about it but Renault SA sells about 600 units a month. So too is its Captur keeping a steady pace with rivals at 400 units sold in September.
The Captur is a cute little city-car, well bigger than the usual city slicker with an ample boot and loads of cabin space, and legroom.
The 1.2-litre diesel unit we had on test was quite a frugal chap. My best fuel consumption reading was a low 3.3-litres/100km while travelling on the N2 highway. The highest was 6.6-litres/100km. It looks like a baby Kadjar but has is stylish and unique in its own right. Its compact size makes for a great run-about and great for city driving. The materials and styling inside the car gives it a bit of a retro edge, especially the two-tone upholstery.
Driving is easy and it’s five-speed manual gearbox makes for no-fuss shifting, although some turbo lag would unexpectedly see you riding in limp mode when you’re not driving economically. I love Renault’s eco-scoring tool, and the Captur gets the standard feature too where it gives you tips to drive more fuel-efficiently and monitor your fuel consumption and mileage. If you’re looking for a great little family car that doesn’t quite rank up with the Renault Duster or Ford’s EcoSport, but want a step up from the Sandero, this is a great alternative.
An owner's experience
Parent24 editor Sophia Swanepoel owns a 66kW version of the Captur and had this to say about her city hopper.
Swanepoel: "I drive around the Cape Town city bowl every day, including up and down the mountain a couple of times, and up 15 levels in the parking lot at work. This means my petrol consumption may be higher than the average Johannesburg city dweller’s, but it’s still around 8.4 litres/100km, which I consider low. On the open road, it gets much lower.
"What I love about the car, is it’s big enough for our family of four, including surf board and a sizeable boot. We love going away for weekends and the ground clearance is high enough to comfortably drive along gravel roads and park on rocky terrains.
"Initially I didn’t get the keyless system, but now I’ve gotten so used to it and the key card always remains in my handbag. I can open and lock the car without having to fish out my keys!"
Parent24 editor Sophia Swanepoel's Renault Captur. Image: Sophia Swanepoel