It is admirable when manufacturer representatives are forthright. No buzz words, no verbiage, just relatable insights that do not make you feel like you are the recipient of a sales pitch. When asked whether the Renault Captur would steal sales from the French car manufacturer’s seemingly similar Duster, the response was refreshingly honest. According to Renault, the Duster is for the unassuming type of buyer who might shop at Mr Price, while the Captur is more high street.
And the comparison makes absolute sense: the Captur makes no excuse for being a B-segment crossover for swanky urbanites. Rather cheekily, Renault chose to launch the newcomer exactly a week after released the new C4 Cactus and with a starting price that undercuts its fellow Gallic fighter. Renault said its direct competitors in this arena are the Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke, consistent top performers on the sales charts. So can Renault realistically hope to seize a sizable chunk of market share? The simple answer is: yes. For starters, the Captur is universally pretty and is unlikely to divide opinion as much as its peers. From most angles, it merely looks like a Clio that has been adhering to a gym regimen. It is chunkier, funkier and is sure to be a hit among buyers in this segment who have style at the top of the criteria list.
Plus, buyers can pick from an interesting array of shades and one could also opt for the two tone affair, with the roof in either black or a delicious looking cream. On the inside, once again, much has been derived from the Clio. However, the seats are bulker and more supportive, and in the higher grade Dynamique models, can be had with leather upholstery or fabric covers that can be taken off and washed. Taking centre stage on the fascia is Renault’s handy digital interface, designed in part with electronics company LG.
It is a superb system, with large icons, a legible font and simple menus to navigate and includes an actual navigation system as well. Climate control is standard across the board, as is cruise control and steering mounted audio controls. Renault claims the Captur offers more space than its peers from the US and Japan, with a total capacity of 455 litres with the seats in place and 1 235 litres with the seats folded flat. Cleverly, the surface on the boot floor of the Dynamique models is reversible; smooth on one side, anti-slip coating on the other. We had some criticisms about the interior of the Captur, however. Although quality is certainly better than what you would experience in the EcoSport, I feel that some of the plastics are not up to scratch.
Then there are a fewer ergonomic niggles. For example, the knob for adjusting the seat back is far too close to the centre storage bin, jammed fingers were the inevitable results. However, the Captur has praiseworthy road manners. It feels a lot more accomplished and substantial on the move than the Clio it is based on. The ride is plush: tyre roar and wind noise is minimal at the national limit and it feels quite sturdy. Quite impressive too is its ground clearance of 170mm. We had ample opportunity to give it a work out over dirt tracks and poor road surfaces, and can happily report that if you have some light off-roading in mind, the Captur will not shy away.
Of course, if there are tasks a little more demanding, then perhaps the Duster is your choice, because the Captur is only available in front-wheel drive. There are two derivatives on offer, the 900cc turbocharged mill we first saw in the Clio and the 1.2 litre engine, which also benefits from forced induction. Only the latter was available for us to sample, and this model comes standard with Renault’s EDC (efficient dual clutch) transmission, while the smaller engine choice is standard with a five speed manual. If you can afford it, go for the EDC. Its smooth shifting on the open road is impressive. And that engine is a treat too. We waxed lyrical about the power plant when we first tried it in the Mégane last year. It gives the Captur a fizzy character and is more than up to the task of maintaining a steady pace on the freeway.
The Captur benefits from a five year/150 000km mechanical warranty. Pricing is extremely competitive too. The newcomer has been blitzing the sales charts in Europe, last year Renault sold 161 000 units. Based on first impressions, we think it could be a success in crossover crazy South Africa too. There seems to be something of a French revolution happening in the B-segment crossover market right now. Because there are two offerings you ought to pay attention to, the new Renault Captur and the Citroën C4 Cactus.
Power: 66kW at 5 250rpm (0.9); 88kW at 4 900rpm (1.2)
Torque: 135Nm at 2 500rpm (0.9); 190Nm at 2 000rpm (1.2)
0-100km/h: 12.9 seconds (0.9); 10.9 seconds (1.2)
Top speed: 171km/h (0.9); 192km/h (1.2)
CO2: 115g/km (0.9); 125g/km (1.2)
Fuel consumption: 4.9l/100km (0.9); 5.4l/100km (1.2)
Prices: R219 900 (0.9 Expression); R239 900 (0.9 Dynamique); R279 900 (1.2 EDC Dynamique)