Captur line-up gets simplified ahead of next year's new model, and to better comply with WLTP regulations. Does the ageing small SUV still pass muster?

What is it?

With an all-new model due to arrive in mid-2019, the Renault Captur line-up has been subjected to something of a nip-tuck for the remainder of its current lifecycle, and also in a bid to comply with stricter WLTP emissions regulations. For the UK, engine options have been restricted to a choice of two: an 89bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel and the 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol unit that sits beneath the bonnet of our test car.

It’s a modest engine, developing just 89bhp at 5500rpm, while 103lb ft of torque is produced at 2250rpm. This is directed to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox; no automatic is available on petrol-powered Renault Capturs.

The trim levels available for the Captur have been simplified, too, dropping from five to three. Play now represents the £15,300 entry-level model, while our £16,500 Iconic test car occupies the mid-range, featuring standard equipment such as satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and cruise control. GT Line models crown the line-up, with a starting price of £18,300. 

Aside from these tweaks to the Captur range as a whole, the car itself remains mechanically identical to how it was at its 2013 launch. The small SUV sits on the same Renault-Nissan Alliance B platform that underpins the Clio and Nissan Juke, while its suspension still consists of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear.

2 Renault captur iconic tce 90 2018 fd hero rear

What's it like?

While the Captur is a reasonably attractive-looking thing from the outside, from behind the wheel there’s much less to get excited about. Plastics - of both the soft-touch and hard, scratchy variety - are used liberally throughout the cabin of our Iconic-specification test car. Combined with a dark colour scheme, it has the effect of making the Captur look and feel particularly dreary and dated - especially when compared with newer rivals such as the Seat Arona, or even the Mazda CX-3.

That said, its driving position and ergonomics are reasonably spot on. The steering column adjusts for both rake and reach, while those who don’t fancy sitting in an overly perched position will find the driver’s seat can be lowered by a useful amount. 

Where things really start to fall apart, though, is in the rear seats. With the front seat set to a comfortable position for an adult of average height, leg room in the back is non-existent. In fact, there is so little on offer that you'll struggle to even get into the car; your legs simply won’t squeeze into the gap. 

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"That’s fine," you might think, "because cars such as the Captur are primarily used for carting kids to and from school, anyway." While there’s a degree of truth to that, any child tasked with sitting in the second row will need to have incredibly spindly legs if they’re going to fit. Ultimately, there’s going to have to be a compromise; you’ll have to sacrifice your ideal driving position and accept the subsequent discomfort if you plan on having any back seat passengers. Considering this is a car aimed at young families, that’s a black mark against it.

Still, at least the Captur drives in a reasonably inoffensive manner. The three-cylinder engine has enough low-down torque to ensure that the task of trundling around town is an easy one, while the pedals are sensibly weighted and far from tiresome to interact with. Overly light steering makes the Captur easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces, too, although a degree of additional weight when travelling at higher speeds would be welcome.

The Captur’s relatively soft suspension translates to a ride that’s comfortable on smooth surfaces, but show it an expansion joint, manhole cover or pothole and proceedings are less pleasant; you’ll certainly notice the subsequent jolt. On lumpier country roads, the Captur’s body control also feels rather loose, giving way to a fair amount of head toss. Lateral roll through faster corners is noticeable, too, and while there aren’t abundant levels of front end grip on offer, the stability control system will step in long before the Captur’s nose begins to press on into understeer.

On the motorway, the three-cylinder engine is impressively hushed, although you’ll need to be prepared to change down a gear if you plan on overtaking with any urgency. While 90% of the TCe 90 engine’s torque is available from a lowly 1650rpm, you’ll need to ensure the crank is spinning at around 2500rpm before the Captur will accelerate with any enthusiasm. 

Fuel economy is reasonable, too; we saw an indicated 37mpg after driving on a mixture of town and country roads, with a stint on the motorway thrown in for good measure.

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4 Renault captur iconic tce 90 2018 fd dashboard

Should I buy one?

Unless you’re desperate for the slightly elevated driving position afforded by the Captur’s taller stature, you’d be better off opting for the Renault Clio hatchback. It’s available with the same 89bhp three-cylinder engine, plus it has sweeter handling, more attractive looks and - rather strangely for what looks like a smaller car from the outside - more space in the rear seats. 

If you really must have a Captur, though, you might do well to wait a few months for the new model to arrive. Hopefully Renault will have addressed the lack of rear leg room by then.

Renault Captur Iconic TCe 90

Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £16,500; Engine 3 cyls, 898cc, turbo, petrol; Power 89bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 103lb ft at 2250rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1173g; 0-62mph 13.1sec; Top speed 106mph; Economy 52.3mpg (combined); CO2, tax band 122g/km, 25% Rivals Nissan Juke, Kia Stonic, Mazda CX-3

7 Renault captur iconic tce 90 2018 fd cornering front

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Add a comment…
nick1110 9 November 2018


great car for the city

humphrey the pug 2 November 2018

What utter dross

What utter dross this review is, there is plenty of legroom behind an average sized driver, more than enough for an adult, let alone a small child.
Jacobcors 1 November 2018

Great car

Great car, small for the city is a good option. Thanks for the review.