Motoring review: Renault Captur DCI 90

Renault's Captur is not quite what it seems, says John Simister

Price: from £13,895
Engine: 1,461cc, four cylinders, turbodiesel, 90bhp transmission five-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Performance: 106mph, 0-62 in 13.1 seconds, 76.4mpg, CO2 95g/km

Renault's clio seems very corpulent for what is meant to be a small car. Renault, however, thinks that some people might want yet more corpulence, preferably upward and outwards with a garnish of added muscularity in the form of big wheels and much scuff protection. So, meet the "Clio 4x4", destined to be Renault's second-best-selling car in Britain if the sales forecasts are accurate.

Actually, though the Clio derivation is clear, the car's name is the Captur. And, despite appearances, it is not a 4x4, not even as an optional extra. In fact, it's an SUV in visuals only; functionally, it's more of an MPV.

So why make a car look like something it can never be? Because that is what people want, and think they need, for the urban jungle, as the worrying numbers of absurdly oxymoronic Mini Countrymen demonstrate.

All of which is useful for Renault, as the Captur can be built on a Clio platform that doesn't lend itself to all-wheel drive. And without the need to accommodate 4x4 mechanicals, the floor can be lower, the structure lighter, the production simpler, the boot and cabin roomier and the price more tempting. Remarkably, a Captur retails at between £4,000 and £8,000 less than the extremes of the Countryman range.

For your money, you get a high-riding car with complex convexities in its surfaces and a lot of "jewellery" in its detail design, with highlights here, outlines there, the possibility of eyeball-searing decals and graphics elsewhere. This is a car you personalise, as you might an iPhone with a fancy cover; the trim levels are Expression, Expression+, Dynamique and Dynamique S, but to these you can add one of three trim packages called – in a curious explosion of Americanism – Arizona, Manhattan and Miami.

All this, and a centre console resembling a giant smartphone, sums up the Captur in a world increasingly less interested in a car's dynamic properties as long it doesn't generate much CO2. However, an engine must be chosen, and the on-trend choice is an 898cc, three-cylinder turbo with 90bhp, a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo with 120bhp, and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 90bhp. A six-speed, double-clutch automatic transmission is standard with the 1.2, optional with the diesel.

That tiny three-cylinder is the most interesting engine, but it might struggle to haul the hefty Captur. I began with the 1.2 automatic, which has a willing engine but unresponsive transmission in automatic, making it frustrating to drive on hilly terrain, because you feel you are getting nowhere. The five-speed manual diesel is better, its smooth, punchy delivery making for a lively drive despite an official CO2 count of just 95g/km.

When you sit high in a car, as you do in the Captur, you are more aware of the car leaning over in corners. Car engineers counter this either with stiff anti-roll bars, which can trigger a nasty lateral jerk when one wheel hits a bump, or – as here – by making the springs and dampers stiff in their action. This makes the Captur feel quite taut and agile on a twisting road, but it thuds violently over big bumps in a way French cars, historically noted for suppleness, never used to do. That was back when cars weren't forced to be something unnatural. Today, appearance is all. And the customer, of course, is always right.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

    £15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

    Day In a Page

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food