Renault Captur SUV (2017 - ) review
Renault’s hugely successful compact SUV gets a mid-life facelift from 2017 onwards. Does it still have the appeal of its predecessor?
Interested in buying Renault Captur?
Design is the Captur’s number one selling point, and it’s suitably eye-catching. Cars from mid-2017 onwards have a refreshed look, with trademark C-shaped LED running lights in the bumper, some sleek lines, and bold colour options. All models get alloy wheels and LED running lights front and back, while Dynamique S Nav models upwards get two-tone exterior paint, and rear parking sensors. Signature X Nav cars get front sensors too, and the top-end Signature S Nav sports a chrome grille and various other metallic effect bits on the outside, as well as model-specific metallic paint options.
The Captur may be at the more affordable end of the market, but that doesn’t mean the interior is a chore to sit in. Quite the opposite. Renault has used the 2017 update to improve the quality of materials, especially around the eye-line, so there are soft touch plastics on the doors and dashboard that elevate it above several rivals. In terms of quality, it’s streets ahead of Vauxhall’s Crossland X.
The seating position and steering wheel adjust enough to fit most drivers, although in cars fitted with an armrest, it’s a bit of a faff to get to the seat adjustment controls next to the transmission tunnel. Higher end cars have revised seats over the base-trim Captur, and they should be more than comfortable enough for hours of driving.
However, the infotainment system is frustrating to use. It’s a touch-screen unit with a painfully slow sat-nav, and it’s all too easy to miss turnings you thought were still some way ahead. A lack of buttons for individual screens makes it a bit of a chore to use, too, especially on the move.
We’ve only tried the higher-spec Captur so far, but we’ve found it to be well thought out with some useful features. There’s plenty of head-room in the front, and six-footers should be fine in the rear seats, too, although Vauxhall’s Crossland X offers slightly more head space for the lanky. The rear seats can be moved backwards or forward to prioritise leg- or boot-space, which ranges from 455 to 1235 litres; better than most of its rivals. The cars we tried had a false floor fitted to completely eliminate any load lip, making it a cinch to lift in heavier items, and the second row of seats folds flat – in a 60:40 split – to cope with larger loads.
Sadly, right-hand drive models don’t have the very handy drawer in place of a glove box that European models boast, which is a real shame, and we hope it will be remedied in the future. However, there is a handy covered cubbyhole on top of the dashboard, storage in the door pockets, and under the armrest.
Ride and handling
Renault obviously knows who its typical Captur customers are and has done a good job of balancing the ride comfort to suit city-dwellers. There is a slight underlying firmness to the ride, but overall it does a decent job of sorting out the typical lumps and bumps that you come across in towns and cities.
Less impressive is the amount of body roll that you’ll notice in corners and the sluggish way the car responds when asked to change direction. This is something that is not helped by the overly light steering, which supplies very little feel, so it’s difficult to know with any real certainty just where the front wheels are pointing.
That lightness does pay dividends in town, however, making it simple to thread the car through congested city traffic, and it also comes in handy when attempting to nip into tight parking spaces.
There are two petrol and two diesel engines available in the Captur, but the 110 diesel is likely to be of only limited appeal unless you're really piling on the miles and you’re looking to squeeze out as many miles to the gallon as is humanly possible. Although it's perfectly adequate on the motorway, it only produces its strongest power in a very small portion of the rev range, so you’ll have to be pretty nippy with your gearchanges in town and on B-roads to keep it working at its best.
The 900cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is probably best avoided. Although it’s quite refined, it feels very underpowered and, as a result, you need to rev it mercilessly to make even stately progress. Load the car up with a couple of kids and a boot full of luggage and, all too often, you’ll find yourself sharing the inside lane with the truckers whenever you encounter anything vaguely approaching an incline.
The four-cylinder 1.2 120 petrol engine is infinitely better. It’s very smooth, has decent pulling power at low revs and is also pretty punchy as the needle rises higher. Our only gripe is that it’s a wee bit noisy at motorway speeds. An automatic gearbox is available, but we’ve yet to sample it, although we’re perfectly happy with the six-speed manual gearbox, which is blessed with one of Renault’s best ever gearchanges.
The Captur is priced competitively against other small SUVs like the Vauxhall Crossland X and Nissan Juke, and running costs are not likely to be radically different. The Captur excels when it comes to fuel economy, with the entry-level diesel boasting an official combined economy of 78.5mpg and the petrols up to 55.4mpg. Its residual values are reasonable, too, and servicing costs shouldn’t break the bank.
The Captur isn’t listed on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, but Renault as a brand performs well, sitting high in the manufacturer rankings. Our owner reviews support that story, with high scores across the board. For peace of mind, Renault offers an impressive four-year warranty with unlimited mileage in the first two years, and up to 100,000 miles in years three and four.
The Captur received the full five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP, albeit back in 2013, when the standards were less stringent. Standard safety equipment across the range is comprehensive, including stability control, traction control, hill start assist, a speed limiter, and six airbags (although family buyers should note the side and curtain airbags do not extend to the rear-seat passengers). It also has three Isofix child seat attachment points (two in the back and one on the front passenger seat). As the Captur was first introduced in 2013, it doesn’t feature some of the more cutting edge technologies available on newer cars, such as autonomous emergency braking.
Five trim levels are available and all of them have keyless entry, DAB radio and air conditioning. The second-rung Dynamique Nav model, as the name suggests, adds satellite navigation and an eco-driving function, while the Dynamique S Nav gives the driver an armrest, tinted windows and a leather steering wheel. The Signature X Nav has part leather upholstery, an uprated infotainment system, as well as a Grip Xtend System, which gives the car limited off-road ability by optimising the car’s settings for different surfaces. Opt for the top-of-the-range Signature S Nav model and you’ll get all the optional technological features as standard, as well as a six-speaker Bose sound system.
The compact SUV segment is exploding in popularity, and the Captur is our pick of the bunch. It’s great to look at with strong equipment levels and a good quality interior, and it’s decent to drive, too. There’s no area in which it’s found wanting, which explains its popularity.