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Renault’s market-leading crossover supermini is back in more sophisticated second-generation form

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The first-generation Renault Captur was one of those uncommon, enduringly successful cars. The Renault managed to find more buyers in its final year of production than during its first.

Surprised? We were. We liked the original Renault Captur of 2013 because it was undemanding to drive, attractive to look at, decently frugal if you went for the right engine and generally more mature than the Nissan Juke, which lit the touchpaper for this sort of car but has always been a highly divisive product. But we didn’t like the Captur that much, its poor body control, light steering and a remote driving experience in general blotting its copybook.

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.

No, the reason this car can boast about that sort of sales statistic is because that sort of sales statistic is indicative of a rapidly and inexorably growing class, which the B-segment SUV – small crossovers, in other words – continues to be and in which the Captur’s mix of style and value made it particularly successful.

Which is why we now have the second-generation Captur. Unlike the original, whose only true rival was the Juke, this one will enter a pool teeming with strong alternatives, including the new Ford Puma, Volkswagen T-Cross and Peugeot 2008.

Renault has not simply refreshed this car’s aesthetic, though. The Mk2 Captur is built on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s new supermini platform and has been engineered from the start to take hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, although traditional options will persevere alongside those low-carbon options for the foreseeable future. The car is substantially longer than before, too, with an enlarged interior that hints at the same uplift in comfort and opulence seen in the latest Renault Clio, with which the new Captur shares so much hardware. This platform also ushers in a suite of driver assistance systems reserved until very recently for larger, more expensive cars, and its increased stiffness in theory paves the way for improved road manners.

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In other words, Europe’s bestselling small crossover by far might just have become even harder to beat as an all-rounder. We’ll now discover whether any incoming sales records are truly deserved.

Renault Captur design & styling

The original Captur shared its underpinnings with the contemporary Clio and that is still the case here, although this 85%-new CMF-B platform is substantially more advanced than its predecessor.

It can facilitate modern safety and assistance systems and can house a broad range of powertrains, including those with substantial battery packs. Engine insulation is also said to have improved noticeably, despite the platform weighing 50kg less than its predecessor. More weight has been saved by using an aluminium bonnet and a composite bootlid.

At its launch, the Captur will be offered with three petrol turbo engines and two diesels, all of which are new. The entry point is a 1.0-litre TCe petrol triple with a respectable 99bhp and 118lb ft, although a four-cylinder petrol is available with either 129bhp or 153bhp and as much as 199lb ft. The diesel options, both powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, develop either 94bhp or 113bhp, and each touts the best fuel economy of the traditional options, at 58.9mpg combined. However, when the 158bhp Captur E-Tech arrives (for which 150 patents were registered), with its two electric motors, dogclutch gearbox, 9.8kWh battery and 29 WLTP miles of electric range, it will become the first plug-in hybrid available in this class and will head the range for spec-sheet efficiency.

Our test car comes in 129bhp 130 TCe trim and with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in place of the standard-fit six-speed manual.

The Captur has grown considerably in length – by 110mm, with the wheelbase accounting for 20mm of that. It is also taller and wider than the car it replaces and will be one of the largest cars in the class. The design itself, with its ‘floating’ roof, is an evolution of the original (which, for the record, was one of the first cars of its kind with a floating roof), although every body panel is new and the belt line higher.

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Beneath the body, the suspension is carried over from the Clio, with 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 range from 16in to 18in.

The Renault Captur line-up at a glance

Renault offers plenty of choice on engines and, with rivals having phased out diesels and limiting choice on power much more, that could be a selling point for the car.

The UK range is kept very simple, with three equipment levels (Play, Iconic and S Edition) mirroring Renault’s offering on other models. A Launch Edition model is available for a limited time as well.

Price £23,395 Power 129bhp Torque 177lb ft 0-60mph 9.4sec 30-70mph in fourth 11.3sec Fuel economy 39.8mpg CO2 emissions 124g/km 70-0mph 46.3m


Renault Captur 2020 road test review - cabin

Open the driver’s side door and the relationship between this new Captur and the Mk5 Renault Clio is immediately recognisable. Like that of its supermini sibling, the compact crossover’s cabin has been thoroughly overhauled, and its adoption of Renault’s fresh new interior architecture marks it out instantly as one of the more visually appealing cars in its class.

While it looks smart throughout, the Captur’s interior doesn’t impress consistently under closer tactile inspection. The soft-touch plastics that cover the dashtop and the major clusters of switchgear escape criticism, but your fingers don’t have to stray too far into the cabin’s lower reaches to discover harder, cheaper-feeling surfaces and fixings.

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; and, if anything, you’d have expected it to add richness and perceived quality to the car.

The shifter for the automatic transmission feels 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.

Our testers weren’t universally impressed by the amount of cabin space on offer, either. 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 that was fitted to our test car was partly responsible for this deficit, and would be worth avoiding if you’re catering for taller occupants.

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, 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 multi-layered peninsula-like console that protrudes from the dash is particularly useful, offering a wireless charging pad and lots of space to stash wallets, phones and keys. Boot space, meanwhile, stands at an impressive 422 litres with the back seats in their rearmost position; 536 litres when they are slid forward; and 1275 litres when folded flat.

Renault Captur infainment and sat-nav

Cheaper versions of the Captur feature a smaller, 7.0in infotainment system either with or without built-in navigation, whereas S Edition models like our test car come with Renault’s range-topping 9.3in screen as standard.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t win many points for graphical sophistication or responsiveness. Not only is there a noticeable amount of lag when transitioning from one function to the next, but it also seems to struggle with simply scrolling down an individual page. There’s a clunkiness that it never really seems capable of overcoming.

That said, it is at least well equipped. Satellite navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth are all included as standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Our S Edition test car also benefits from a wireless smartphone charging pad.

A Bose sound system was included as an option on our car at a cost of £350. Its sound quality was fine, if not exactly outstanding. You’d probably get away without it.


For smoothness, responsiveness, free-revving flexibility and more, the Captur’s mid-range petrol two-pedal powertrain falls frustratingly short of expectations. This is most apparent in the low speed, inner-city environments in which you’d hope for a compact crossover to flourish.

The fault here lies primarily with its awkwardly calibrated and slowwitted dual-clutch transmission. At step-off, there’s a frustrating hesitancy about the manner in which it hooks up. This combines with an inconsistent throttle response to compromise the car’s ability to move away cleanly. Apply too little gas and you’ll creep off the line after a noticeable delay; sink your right foot a little deeper into the pedal’s travel and it’ll suddenly engage and shunt you forward with an undignified lurch, often spinning the front wheels and triggering the traction control in the process, as if the throttle response was tuned mainly to cover for the gearbox’s tardiness.

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

In terms of the transmission’s intuitiveness in operation, things don’t improve much when you’re up and running. Here, it’s too eager to select and to hold high gears even when travelling at fairly modest speeds, so you find you’re constantly needing to kick down to tap back into the engine’s torque reserves. This is particularly frustrating when you’re only looking to achieve a minor rally in speed. You don’t need to cover too great a distance, suffice it to say, before foibles like that begin to grate.

The car’s 1.3-litre engine isn’t above criticism, though it’s certainly less vulnerable to it than the gearbox. Its initial power delivery is conspicuously boosty, and it quickly starts to sound and feel strained as you really wind the revs out. That said, it does at least lend the Captur strongish usable, if not outstanding, real-world performance – and is refined and quiet enough at cruising crank speeds.

On a dry, cold track, the run from 30-70mph took 9.2sec, while 0-60mph was dispatched in 9.4sec. This made the car only fractionally slower than the larger but slightly more powerful Kia Xceed 1.4 T-GDi (8.7sec and 9.3sec respectively) we road tested last year and gave it a second-or-so’s advantage over the going rate for petrol-powered compact crossovers at least in outright terms.


Renault Captur 2020 road test review - on the road front

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. 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.

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

There’s a little bit of weight in the steering, but only just enough to push against and feel reassured by. 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’s lateral body control is good, and it avoids the tendency to tumble quickly onto its outside wheels that can afflict cars of this type and make them feel a little unsteady on turn-in. Even on optional 18in wheels, it doesn’t have much in the way of handling agility or a particularly high outright grip level, though, and it stops some way short of conjuring lasting driver appeal.

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 Renault 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 – although the car’s grip level is pretty ordinary and its outright agility likewise; and while that grip level is quite nicely balanced and the chassis seems potentially playful at first, the non-switchable stability and traction controls wield an ultimately suffocating hand.

The suspension prefers smoother surfaces to broken and uneven ones, riding bumps in a slightly wooden and brittle fashion that would make it less than ideally suited to quicker cross-country driving.


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.

However, the by-product of this additional control is a firm, slightly brittle town ride. The car frequently shudders and trips its way over poorly maintained surfaces, all the while transferring a considerable amount of suspension thump back into the cabin. The Ford Puma and Volkswagen T-Cross both do a considerably better job of isolating their occupants from these sorts of intrusions, although the larger 18in alloys that had been optionally fitted to our test car wouldn’t have played to the Captur’s favour.

Nevertheless, the driving position is generally pretty good (slight lack of headspace 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.

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 67dB, which is actually quieter than the 70dB we measured in the 94bhp Seat Arona back in 2017.


Renault Captur 2020 road test review - hero front

The good news if you like the look of the Captur is that it costs less to buy than almost all of its major rivals, including the Volkswagen T-Cross, Peugeot 2008 and Ford Puma, and our S Edition example (with rear-view camera, parking sensors, wireless phone charging and automatic headlights) is also forecast to hold its value better than many.

The French car is, however, undercut by the comparatively characterless but practical Skoda Kamiq. The other thing to note is that, like the Renault Clio, the Captur’s interior ambience is quite dependent on spec and colour, for which there are optional packs (for orange, red and blue), and not until S Edition do you get a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

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

Testing suggests that owners can expect day-to-day fuel economy of around 40mpg, with a real-world driving range of 420 miles. This is respectable but no more, falling just shy of various Volkswagen Group equivalents that we have tested of late. On a long-distance tour, we saw better than 50mpg from the car, which is more competitive but not worth singling out for particular praise in this class.


Renault Captur 2020 road test review - static

Renault has done a lot right with this second-generation Captur. It’s a much more complete product than its predecessor, with a roomier and richer cabin, significantly better on-board technology and a more secure handling character.

A broad range of engines, with hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions incoming, will only go on to distinguish the car even better than it does now. It’s important to choose wisely from that range, because the 1.3-litre mid-range two-pedal petrol engine option we tested doesn’t have the drivability or the enthusiastic fizz you might hope for. Wider test experience has already confirmed that other Captur engines are better.

New Captur should prove popular, but not with this powertrain

An often wooden-feeling and occasionally noisy ride also disappointed our testers, who had hoped for more of the supple fluency of the original Captur. Combined with the shortcomings of the powertrain, this robs the car of the driver appeal that might otherwise be a decisive selling point.

Still, with greater versatility and perceived quality than its predecessor, and being similarly strong on value and style, it won’t be short of ways in which to convince buyers.

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