Renault calls the Captur ‘an urban crossover’, though in industry parlance it’s a ‘B-segment crossover’.
The manufacturer's planners are predicting that EU sales of such crossovers will leap from 257,000 units in 2012 to just short of 500,000 in 2013, taking a healthy 14 per cent slice of the supermini market. They also expect the Captur to become the brand’s second best-seller in UK.
In the flesh, the Captur is certainly an eye-catching car. Go for the duo-tone roof and body option and the car stands out even more, partly because the contrasting colour extends to the A-pillars. It's all the more striking with the exterior trim Gloss Pack fitted around the fog lights and to the sills and grille.
There are 24 exterior colour combinations along with three matching interior and exterior trim packs, called ‘Arizona’, ‘Miami’ and ‘Manhattan’. There also also three different roof decals.
The Captur is based on the same new-generation platform as the Clio estate, although it has been modified with a wider track. It is quite compact, measuring just 4.1m in length and 1.53m high, including a useful 200mm of ground clearance. The decent 2.6m-long wheelbase works with a 60/40 split rear bench seat that also slides to allow up to 215mm of kneeroom.
Inside, the fresh-looking dash plastics are finished in a modern dimple pattern and there are some usefully deep cubby holes in the centre console. Renault has also patented the removable seat covers.
With the sliding rear seat set right back, you get a reasonable 377-litre boot, extending to a healthy 455 litres with the bench slid fully forward. There’s also a double-sided (carpet and rubber) hard boot floor that splits the rear luggage space and creates a substantial – and hidden – storage space.
Renault offers the Captur with its new, sweet and punchy small petrol turbo engine, which drives through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The 120bhp unit has the legs for twisting hill roads while proving to be very smooth on the motorways. The engine is a good match for the company’s new dual-clutch ’box, which was almost complete viceless unless you stamped on the accelerator.
The 90bhp dCI diesel engine is impressively refined, although it becomes vocal in town on a trailing throttle and on long uphill roads, the driver needs to stay on the ball and drop down a ratio to keep the car’s speed up. It can manage a relaxed relaxed 12.6sec 0-62mph time but the upside is a claimed combined economy of 76.4mpg, which should mean nearly 60mpg in the real world.
Certainly, the Captur isn't going to whet the appetite of the keen driver. It has lightly weighted controls and is easy to punt around. That said, it could be made to flow along rather nicely on French A-roads.
However, the big flaw facing this car’s translation to the UK is the ride on very poor surfaces. While it would glide along on smooth roads, on patches of typical French A-road, where it encountered broken surfaces, the wheels crashed and pattered to a surprising degree.
The Captur is very much a style and lifestyle statement. You'll find similar interior versatility in an MPV, but the Captur is much more about showmanship and the ability to completely customise the car inside.
Buyers are also given some strong practical reasons to buy the car. Renault offers a comprehensive ownership package including a four-year warranty, four years' servicing and four years’ roadside cover.
Overall, the Renault Captur is not a captivating driving experience, but that’s not the point. Its style, freshness, value (compared to, say, Mini’s line-up) and overall buying package should ensure that it is a success