Captur: fancy a pumped up Clio?

By Jesse Adams Time of article published Jun 12, 2015

Share this article:

ROAD TEST

Renault Captur 1.2T Dynamique auto

Johannesburg - Back in the days of steel bumpers, crossply tyres, and motorised antennas, when a carmaker used one platform for multiple body styles, it was generally to make a station wagon out of a sedan. Or a coupé out of a sedan. Or a convertible out of a sedan. Or, in America, a bakkie out of a sedan (think El Camino).

And given the way an assembly line works, it was a fairly easy thing to do. Just stamp out the new sheet metal and roll the shared chassis underneath. Presto chango.

But station wagons and pickup-cars are so yesterday. It’s all about crossover vehicles now, and pretty much all major brands have a variety of car-cum-SUV hodgepodges in their lineups. Only now, said assembly lines just insert a set of taller springs into an existing hatch; maybe, if they’re feeling up to it, inflate the body by a few centimetres in every which direction, and send the newfangled creation out to be gobbled up by the ride height-obsessed masses.

And that’s exactly what’s happening here. The new Renault Captur is basically a Clio with 170mm ground clearance and a slightly re-jigged body structure offering a little more cabin and boot space. In the Captur’s case it’s quite a striking transformation with a heavily sculpted side profile which looks like waves rolling across the doors. Our test car’s Sunset Orange paint and contrasting roof also added to the look-at-me factor, and unlike with many plain-Jane crossovers I did notice some attention cast its way from other road users.

TALL, ROOMY AND STYLISH

It may ride higher than a Clio, and there’s a bit more altitude in the seating position, but there are absolutely no offroad aspirations here. There’s a very basic front-wheel drivetrain underneath the Captur, and other than avoiding some belly scrapage on a nasty speedhump or two, this car will perform exactly like your average hatchback. But that’s not the point, or so I was informed by a friend whose ageing father is considering a car from this segment. He says his dad’s under no illusions of weekend bush treks, and that the almost SUV-like height will make getting in and out easier on his creaky back. Point taken.

The swollen exterior dimensions also create a little more head space in the cabin, and at the back the seats slide on rails to suit either passenger or cargo carrying needs. There’s also a deeper boot floor than in the Clio with a handy tiered lower section which I found perfect for concealing laptop bags and suchlike. I even stuffed a giant bag of dog food in there and still had space above for all the usual grocery haulage.

And yes, there is a space-saver spare wheel hidden in an even lower third tier.

The Captur’s dashboard resembles that in the Clio, which is fine because it’s well made and nicely presented with tasteful amounts of piano black and chrome finishes. It also gets the Clio’s 7” colour touchscreen display, which besides being a bit slow in reaction to finger prods, is a nice hi-tech unit with cool graphics and reasonably easy to use menus. Very generous of Renault to include satellite navigation in all Captur models too, but it’s a bit strange that the top Dynamique we drove had no USB port while lower derivatives do. Not a biggie really, as it does come with Bluetooth connectivity.

LAGGY DRIVETRAIN

Engine choices in the Captur include the same 900cc three-cylinder turbo as found in the Clio and Sandero, and a bigger 1.2 turbo with 88kW and 190Nm as on test here. This version only comes paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic, but I’m sorry to say this motor and gearbox don’t gel well together. There’s a pretty serious amount of turbolag on pulloffs, and at cruising speeds it’s reluctant to take a higher gear – resulting in high revs, and ultimately poor fuel consumption. Over one week our car gulped 8.8 litres per 100km. Renault claims 5.4.

Although I haven’t driven the lesser 66kW Captur models, I know this engine well from Clio and Sandero tests where it performed superbly. I’d strongly advise saving some money and opting for this one. That is, unless an auto transmission is imperative. Either way this is a very easy car to drive, with light steering, good visibility, and sorted handling even at highway speeds. Sometimes these high-riding hatch-based crossovers can get a little wobbly in the fast lane, but this one’s happy there. -Star Motoring

VERDICT

Basically a pumped up Clio with a little extra space and lot more style. Easier to board and disembark as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @PoorBoyLtd

RENAULT CAPTURE VERSUS RIVALS

Renault Captur 1.2T Dynamique auto – 88kW/190Nm, length 4122mm, boot 377 litres, ground clearance 170mm, service plan 3-years/45 000km, warranty 5-years/150 000km – Price R279 900

Opel Mokka 1.4T Enjoy auto – 103kW/200Nm, length 4278mm, boot 356 litres, ground clearance 131mm, service plan 5-years/90 000km, warranty 5-years/120 000km – Price R288 500

Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium auto – 82kW/138Nm, length 4010mm, boot 362 litres, ground clearance 200mm, service plan 4-years/60 000km, warranty 4-years/120 000km – Price R270 900

Share this article: