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.
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.