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Renault’s market-leading crossover is back with a new face, fresh tech as part of a mid-life update

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Since the second-generation Renault Captur's launch in 2019, Gilles Vidal has taken the reins at Renault's styling department and brought in a new design language, leaving the Captur looking a bit last-gen.

So this mid-life facelift is quite dramatic, bringing the look in line with cars like the Renault Scenic and Rafale. As well as the exterior changes, the update brings a reworked interior and multimedia system. Unchanged is that Renault continues to offer strong value. Prices start at £21,095, undercutting many rivals like the Ford Puma (£25,000), the Hyundai Kona (£26,000) - and the Nissan Juke (£23,500). These new changes and additions become even more interesting when you look at that Juke rival, which was also updated this year, but very minimally.

As is the trend on all new Renaults, an oversized ‘lozenge’ badge dominates the Captur’s gently restyled front grille. Chrome brightwork lends it an appealingly upmarket appearance.

Although welcome, it’s not like Renault desperately needed to make the changes. The Captur is a popular model, selling more than two million units since its 2013 launch. Together with its Renault Clio sibling model, it captures a significant portion of the global B-segment share.

So, can this update, along with the car’s mix of style and value, help continue the Captur’s sales? Renault will definitely hope so, especially given it is now competing in what has become one of the most oversaturated segments in the market, with competitors ranging from the Puma and Volkswagen T-Cross to the Peugeot 2008.

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DESIGN & STYLING

renault captur review 2024 06 grill

For this facelift, there is only one place to start: that front end. The facia is centred on the brand’s new emblem, which has been designed to seem as if it’s pulsating. This gives the Captur a completely fresh look, one more suggestive of a new generation than a refresh.

As well as that new nose, the daytime-running lights have had a redesign too, now more angular and lightning bolt-shaped. This brings it in line with the rest of the range’s newer models, such as the Renault Clio, Renault Rafale and Renault Scenic.

The C-pillar is much more substantial and stylised on the Mk2 Captur than on the original model. The chrome strip makes for a smart-looking dividing line between the body and contrasting-coloured roof.

Not much has changed at the rear, but Renault has still subtly redesigned the lights to differentiate it from pre-facelift cars.

Given it’s only a facelift, the Captur is the same size as it was before (4239mm long, 1575mm tall) and its underpinnings are largely similar to the car it replaces. It uses the same CMF-B platform as the Clio and Nissan Juke.

When it arrived in 2019, that platform was 85% new so it could facilitate modern safety and assistance systems, as well as being able to house a broad range of powertrains, including those with substantial battery packs. 

Beneath the body, Renault has added new dampers on the front axle to improve body control and modified the suspension geometry for better ride comfort and "a more dynamic ride". The steering is also said to have been recalibrated for improved response and control. 

Renault said much of these changes were in response to negative feedback over the ride of the pre-facelifted car.

As before, the Captur features a torsion beam at the rear and pseudo-MacPherson struts (in which a lower wishbone is fitted and the anti-roll bar done away with) at the front. Wheel sizes have increased too, now ranging from 17in to 19in.

INTERIOR

renault captur review 2024 09 dash

Open the driver’s side door and the relationship between this new Captur and the new Clio is immediately recognisable. Like that of its supermini sibling, the compact crossover’s cabin has been thoroughly overhauled. Compared with rivals, this feels like one of the more visually appealing cars in its class. Renault says the upgrades make the Captur "modern" and "upmarket”.

The centrepiece of the overhauled cabin is a new 10.4in, Google-integrated, vertical touchscreen – available on all trims – that runs Renault's latest OpenR Link infotainment platform, bringing a raft of new connectivity functions and wireless smartphone mirroring as standard. 

Renault needs to improve the quality of its automatic shift lever as a priority. It’s one of the flimsiest, least haptically pleasing fittings I’ve come across. If anything, you’d have expected it to add richness and perceived quality to the car.

It's quite easy to use, with key areas such as maps, vehicle controls, phone and music pinned at the top. It's much slicker than its laggy predecessor and its bright and clear display makes map reading from the integrated Google Maps a doddle. Physical volume buttons can also be found on the top of the screen, which is a nice touch.

Downsides come in the form of poor rear camera quality, which really lacks what rivals such as Ford and Hyundai offer. 

Renault has – following other car makers – also done away with the climate control dials that once sat below the screen. In its place, like the Renault Mégane, are smaller piano key-style switches that work just as well. The fact the climate controls are not in the screen itself is a big plus.

In our Techno test car, which sits in the middle of an expected three-car UK line-up, soft-touch plastics cover the dashtop, with a metal-feeling bar – strangely like in a Land Rover Defender – in front of the passenger. In top-rung Esprit Alpine spec, much of the plastics are replaced with a soft-touch cloth design. Alpine logos are also added.

Unfortunately, like its predecessor, the Captur’s interior doesn’t impress consistently under closer tactile inspection; your fingers don’t have to stray too far into the cabin’s lower reaches to discover harder, cheaper-feeling surfaces and fixings.

As with the pre-facelifted car, our testers found that the shifter for the automatic transmission – which does not change in the new model – felt particularly flimsy and brittle, and will loudly recoil and rattle around in its housing if you try to put the car into gear with a quick flick of the wrist. 

For something that will be used so often by the driver, that’s a peculiar oversight in a car in which such trouble has plainly been taken elsewhere to boost perceived quality.

The amount of cabin space in the Captur remains some distance off the class leaders. Our tape measure revealed that the smaller Clio offers 40mm more maximum head room than its larger sibling, although neither feels under-provisioned for it. 

The sunroof fitted to our test car was partly responsible for this deficit, and would be worth avoiding if you’re catering for taller occupants. For the facelifted model, this comes as standard in Esprit Alpine trim.

Yet in the Techno trim, which didn’t feature a sunroof, that lack of head space was still prevalent, mainly due to the seats not allowing a low enough seating position for our six-foot tester. During normal situations, this didn’t translate into any major issues, except that some traffic lights can be obscured.

The car’s second row is big enough for taller adults – but only just. Even with the Captur’s sliding rear bench pushed all the way back (it can slide 160cm), there’s still only 680mm of leg room to be found, while head room is a pretty average 920mm. Admittedly, that’s more than you will find in the Clio; and the car’s raised hip point is not to be forgotten when accounting for ease of entry and exit. But when a humble Volkswagen Polo can conjure 950mm of head room and 690mm of leg room, the loftier Captur’s efforts are made to look no better than respectable.

Still, there are at least plenty of useful storage bins and trays dotted around the place. The facelifted car’s upgraded multi-layered console that protrudes from the dash is particularly useful, offering a wireless charging pad and lots of space to stash wallets, phones and keys. Compared with the previous car, there are a couple of additional cubbies, albeit only large enough for phones.

Boot space, meanwhile, stands at an impressive 484 litres with the back seats in their rearmost position; 616 litres when they are slid forward; and 1275 litres when folded flat.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

renault captur esprit alpine review 2024 28
The Captur also comes, for the first time, in an Esprit Alpine trim

At launch, just two powertrains are expected to return for the UK. These are the entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which sends 90bhp through a six-speed manual gearbox, and the full-hybrid E-Tech, which combines a 94bhp 1.6-litre engine with a 48bhp electric motor, a 24bhp starter-generator and a 1.2kWh traction battery for 145bhp. Renault quotes economy of 48.3mpg for the petrol and 60.1mpg for the hybrid. Autocar understands no diesels or plug-in hybrid powertrains are returning due to modest sales.

Our test car comes in E-Tech form. For responsiveness and inner-city usability, the Captur’s hybrid powertrain really is very good. Thanks to the electric motor, stop-start rush-hour traffic – as we found during an ill-timed venture into central Madrid – was easy to traverse, as were traffic-light getaways. 

Keen drivers will find the stability and traction controls overly intrusive but the correlated responses of its steering and chassis make the car easy to position in corners.

On the open road, this powertrain is known to get quite animated, however, particularly when you're not smooth with your inputs. On uphill sections, the geabox is eager to kick down and hold on to those lower gears and high revs. With no manual control over the gearbox, there's not much you can do about that, either. We found the transition between EV to ICE to be quite aggressive on the Captur in particular.

It's more at home on flatter stretches, although the kickdown was still annoyingly laggy in pivotal motorway overtaking situations. Once it got going, we were never wanting for more than the 145bhp powertrain offered.

RIDE & HANDLING

renault captur review 2024 03 panning

The Captur gets off to a good start in this section simply by being more natural-feeling and intuitive in its handling than a great many of its crossover-class rivals.

Instead of doing some doomed impression of a bigger, softer-sprung SUV, or setting out to deny its raised ride height entirely and pretending it’s a warm hatchback, the Captur is an agreeable moderate. 

Each transmission bump elicits quite a nasty thwack from the rear axle, although the electronics ensure stability is maintained under lateral load.

It’s got medium-paced steering with progressive on-centre response that makes it easy to guide along the road, and moderately sprung suspension that, while probably placing it towards the sportier end of the class’s dynamic spectrum, simply makes for good body control and fairly clean, crisp chassis response. 

The steering is on the lighter side, which is good for city driving, but could do with a bit more weight to aid motorway use.

By and large, the car goes where you point it with a pleasing sense of accuracy and linearity; is predictable in most respects; maintains good vertical control of its mass, even at speed; and is governed by stability and traction control electronics that, while always on, intervene discreetly enough so as not to intrude.

Dynamic qualities such as these may seem fairly elementary but they’re not common among a lot of the Captur’s rivals, whose softened, jacked-up suspension and over-assisted controls can make for quite an unintuitive driving experience by comparison.

The Captur is plainly one of the better-handling cars of its ilk yet it still isn’t one an interested driver would really seek out and it stops a way short of engaging its driver when driven quickly.

Like the related Clio, the Captur steers with an intuitive pace and weight that’s well matched to the rate of handling response of its chassis and that makes it easy to place in corners. With the vast majority of drivers in mind, that’s as it should be.

With the slightly updated suspension set-up (new stiffer front dampers and revised geometry), the Captur’s lateral body control is fair, although it does have tendency to slightly tumble onto its outside wheels when cornering.

In a similar fashion to its Mk5 Clio sibling, the Captur’s ride seems to have lost some of the easy-going fluency of its immediate predecessor.

Its vertical body movements now feel as though they’re being monitored far more closely than before, which admittedly makes for a usefully taut primary ride when travelling quickly on rolling stretches of road. This translates to a slightly brittle ride in town, although not to uncomfortable levels, and we'd advise against the Esprit Alpine's 19in wheels, which exacerbates the brittleness.

Nevertheless, the driving position is generally pretty good (slight lack of head space aside), thanks to abundant adjustability in the steering column and seat base. The seats themselves err on the softer side of things but provide decent enough support over lengthier drives. On our 100-mile Spanish test route, no complaints could be had. 

There is a bit of notable wind and road noise at motorway speeds, but not enough to warrant particular criticism. At a 70mph cruise, our microphone returned a reading of 67dBA, which is actually quieter than the 70dBA we measured in the 94bhp Seat Arona back in 2017.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

renault captur review 2024 01 front tracking

The good news if you like the look of the updated Captur is that it is expected to cost less to buy than almost all of its major rivals, including the T-Cross, 2008 and Puma. Although final specifications have yet to be revealed, Renault has promised lots of standard tech for an “aggressively positioned” price. Our mid-range Techno (with rear-view camera, parking sensors, wireless phone charging and automatic headlights) is also forecast to hold its value better than many.

One thing to note is that, like the Renault Clio, the Captur’s interior ambience is quite dependent on spec and colour. Techno brings yellow stitching while Esprit Alpine adds blue inserts and French flag motifs, for example. There is no chrome or leather on offer, in line with Renault's sustainability ambitions. 

Captur matches the Volkswagen T-Cross for residual strength on percentage basis, which is impressive. The Peugeot 2008 is equally new.

On a 110-mile mixed route in the E-Tech hybrid, we averaged an indicated 63mpg, which actually beats the factory claim.

VERDICT

renault captur review 2024 24 front urban

Renault did a lot right with the second-generation Captur, making it a much more complete product than its predecessor. This facelift builds on that, with a much better looking design and significantly improved on-board technology for a really competitive price.

Our test car’s 145bhp E-Tech was fine for power, economy and city centre driving, with a comfortable ride and easy-to-use responsive tech that really improves the car’s day-to-day usability. But the way the gearbox performed on faster routes, especially those with even the slightest of inclines, did rob the car of the effortlessness some buyers will be expecting.

Updated Captur should prove popular, especially with its low entry price.

This facelift also slims down what was a broad range of engines that originally distinguished the car from rivals. But, given Renault says sales of those powertrains were dropping, it’s no real surprise.

Still, with greater quality than its predecessor, a fresh look to keep up with an increasingly diverse-looking segment (Juke, Puma, Kona et al) and an aggressive pricing structure that kicks off at £21,095 (although the E-Tech powertrain is £24,595), it really isn’t short of ways in which to convince buyers looking for a good-looking practical small family SUV.

Will Rimell

Will Rimell
Title: News editor

Will is a journalist with more than eight years experience in roles that range from news reporter to editor. He joined Autocar in 2022 as deputy news editor, moving from a local news background.

In his current role as news editor, Will’s focus is on setting Autocar's news agenda; he also manages Autocar Business and Haymarket's aftermarket publication CAT.

Writing is, of course, a big part of his role too. Stories come in many forms, from interviewing top executives, reporting from car launches, and unearthing exclusives.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Renault Captur First drives