REVIEW: Sophisticated Renault Captur feels bigger than its boots

Published Jan 18, 2024


After spending a month with the Renault Captur, there is one thing that stands out for me.

Despite it being a relatively compact SUV, at no point did I wish that I was driving a bigger or more expensive vehicle. Not even when I hit the highway for a quick escape to the Drakensberg area, it being December after all.

We often buy bigger vehicles because we want to feel safe and comfortable on the open road, but then we complain about the hefty fuel bills that had half the country thinking of a second mortgage as fuel prices skyrocketed last year, and then we complain that said vehicle is hard to park and not nifty enough in dense traffic.

The Renault Captur just felt like a Goldilocks car in that regard, with its sensible dimensions and sophisticated road manners. On the highway, it rode comfortably and quietly, while its seats, covered in a high-quality cloth material, kept us feeling fresh and relaxed throughout the journey.

Its 1.3-litre direct injection turbopetrol engine, with a generous 113kW and 270Nm on tap, was perky enough to overtake comfortably and picked up momentum quickly and easily after being stuck behind inconsiderate truck drivers who seem to love overtaking at crawling speed on steep hills on the N3!

And yet it returned just 5.5 litres per 100km on the open road.

After settling back in a gloriously quiet Roodepoort in late December and resetting the trip for some running around the urban jungle, the readout never hovered above 9.2 l/100km. And after a bit of extra freeway and country driving was thrown into the mix, including day trips to the scenic Magaliesburg area, the average readout dropped to 7.6 l/100km on the day we reluctantly handed the Captur back to its rightful owners.

Whether you’re hurtling along the highway or tackling some twisty back roads, the latest Captur has a sophisticated, almost premium feel to it that belies its compact car status.

Modern, practical cabin

The cabin is as practical as you could expect for a 4.2-metre-long vehicle, and rear-seat passengers have a reasonable amount of space.

The rear seats have slide adjustments too, so you can vary the ratio between passenger and boot space, the latter ranging from 404 litres to 536 litres with the rear seats in place. The split-level boot, whose partitioner slots neatly at the bottom when not needed, swallowed our luggage with ease, and my partner remarked that it seemed surprisingly big for a vehicle of this size.

At the helm, you have a vertical touchscreen infotainment system that’s easy to use, and there are also traditional rotary controls for the climate system.

That said, we would have appreciated a traditional volume knob in the centre of the cabin, and the column-mounted volume control would perhaps have been better placed on the steering wheel like it is on most other cars, but I’m nitpicking here.

Between the front seats, you’ll find a practical split-level console where you can stash items like keys and other bits and bobs below the electronic gear lever as well as in front of it. There’s also a wireless charger, which worked a treat.

Take your pick between two models

The Renault Captur comes in two spec flavours: Zen and Intens.

The base version comes standard with a 7.0-inch (17.8cm) touchscreen infotainment system with CarPlay connectivity as well as satnav and a reverse camera. Other features include front and rear parking sensors and keyless entry. Externally, it has 17-inch steel wheels with Flex wheel covers that are designed to resemble alloy wheels.

The Intens flagship model can also be identified by its black roof and 17-inch (proper) alloy wheels, while additional cabin features include a 9.3-inch vertical infotainment system, digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, heated leather steering wheel, floating centre console with E-shifter, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and three driver-selectable driving modes (Sport, Eco, and Normal).

Is the Renault Captur worth the money?

Given the mere R20,000 difference between the two versions, with the Zen priced at R489,999 at the time of writing in January 2024 and the Intens retailing at R509,999, the flagship model is a no-brainer if you’re choosing between the two.

But still, R500,000 is a lot of money for a relatively compact SUV, although it does have a more powerful engine than its rivals.

These, at the “boutique” end of the compact SUV market, include the Opel Mokka (R489,900 to R539,900), Peugeot 2008 (R464,900 to R554,900) and Volkswagen Taigo (R482,100 to R545,200).

But if you want more metal for your money, you might want to keep the more sensible options in mind, like the Toyota Corolla Cross, Chery Tiggo 4, and Renault’s own Duster, which starts at R397,999.

Indeed, the Captur is not rocking the sales charts like its predecessor did at one point, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that the Kiger has very much taken up the slack at the lower end of the SUV market.

Granted, the Kiger, which is built in India for emerging markets only, is nowhere near as refined as the Captur.

We can’t help but think Renault might do well to consider a 1.0-litre turbo version of the Captur to bridge the gap for those who want something more sophisticated than the Kiger but without stretching all the way to the half-a-million mark.

Just a thought.

IOL Motoring

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