What is it?
How quickly the wheel turns. Barely four years ago it was necessary to preface our first drive of the new Renault Captur with a brief description of the fledging class it was helping to institute; now the B-segment crossover is a prominent feature of the global marketplace – so much so that the Captur is currently Renault’s best-selling car in Europe.
That success is largely deserved. While being revolutionary in no notable way (the Captur is essentially a tall Clio), Laurens van den Acker’s harmonious design and an uncorrupted driving style made it arguably the pick of the industry’s litter. It is probably indicative of the car’s broader success that the manufacturer has hardly returned to the drawing board with this its first lifecycle refresh.
Mechanical changes? None. There’s the same choice of familiar engines – the stalwart 1.5-litre dCI diesel in 89bhp and 108bhp flavours, and two TCe petrol motors: the 89bhp three-cylinder and 118bhp four-cylinder unit that we're driving here.
Instead, the bulk of the work is made up of styling tweaks inside and out and a slightly fleshed out equipment list.
The latter development congeals in a new range-topper in the five trim line-up; the Signature S Nav model. Blindspot warning and hands-free parking – novel functions on rivals' option lists – are included, as are top-tier features such as heated part-leather seats and a six-speaker Bose sound system for customers untroubled by the £21,405 entry-level price.
What's it like?
The Captur has been treated to some extra brightwork on the exterior too, although even buyers of the entry-level version get the updated radiator grille which more clearly emphasises the fraternal relationship with Renault's larger Kadjar. There are some new skidplates too (naturally as faux as unicorn horn) and the addition of the C-shaped LED running lights that have become Renault’s hallmark.
While this amounts to tinkering, it is to the Captur’s general benefit. Ditto the dusting of alterations made to the interior, where Renault has focused its enhancements at eye-level in an attempt to gently raise perceived quality. In the high-spec trim sampled, the higher-grade plastics and a slightly more sensitive approach to chrome surrounds make for marginally more welcoming surroundings.
The refresh doesn’t include the huge, drawer-like glovebox standard on the left-hand-drive Captur (the fusebox prevents its inclusion on right-drivers) or a rethink of the slightly muddled R-Link infotainment system. The latter does gain Android Auto smartphone mirroring, but not Apple CarPlay, which feels like an oversight despite Renault protestations of the former's broader popularity.
None of this makes the slightest difference to the way the Captur drives, of course. A change of gearlever being as close as this car gets to altering the on-road experience. For the most part, that’s fine. Captivating it most certainly isn’t, but the model diligently fits the approved crossover mould: moving about with marginally less enthusiasm than the Clio, yet not to the extent where its agility or comfort have been unreasonably compromised.
Should I buy one?
With the larger petrol engine it does all this with an acceptable turn of pace, too – feeling amenably purposeful at middling engine speeds, and without the distant drone of the diesel unit.
That said, previous experience suggests that Renault’s livelier three-cylinder unit is a better compromise, not least because in the more affordable Dynamique S Nav trim it offers 55.4mpg combined economy and can be had for a shade over £18,000.
Four years ago we might have suggested you could save yourself an additional £1500 and buy a Clio. That advice is no less pertinent now, yet it's made to seem obsolete now by the Captur’s likely prolonged best-seller status.
Renault Captur Signature S Nav TCe 120
Price £21,405 Engine 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbo, petrol Power 118bhp at 5000rpm Torque 151lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1184kg 0-62mph 9.9sec Top speed 119mph Economy 51.4mpg (combined) CO2/tax band 125g/km, 25% Rivals Nissan Juke, Suzuki Vitara