What is it?
The new plug-in version of the second-generation Renault Renault Captur has arrived in UK dealerships, giving us our first opportunity to try it with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.
The Renault is an interesting car in its own right, of course, for reasons we’ll come to later, but doubly remarkable for the fact that it’s entering a relatively uncontested segment: that of the plug-in hybrid compact crossover. Size-wise, the Captur takes on everything from the Ford Puma to the Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke, but similarly electrified alternatives are limited, essentially, to just the Kia Niro PHEV and Mini Countryman S E All4.
No doubt this niche-busting trio won’t have it so easy for long, given that there’s a new entry to the crossover class every 27 minutes, and that plug-in hybrids continue to play a crucial role in manufacturers’ battle to comply with stringent fleet emissions targets. But for now, the Captur seems on first glance a real no-brainer for urban-dwelling business buyers and eco-conscious families who need a car that’s at once more practical than a supermini but no harder to park. Whether it deserves that custom on the basis of anything but uniqueness alone is what we’ll seek to determine.
The powertrain comprises a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder - unavailable as a means of propelling the non-electrified car - with a 66bhp electric motor for a combined output of 158bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10.1sec. We’ve tested it in S Edition trim, which is marked out from lower trims by its 17in diamond-cut alloy wheels, colour-coded mirrors and tinted rear windows.