Renault Captur: First Drive Review
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Renault’s new premium crossover attempts to carve out a new segment for itself. But can it?
Renault managed to pull at the heartstrings of the discerning Indian buyer with its mini SUV, the Duster. And then did it again with the SUV-esque hatch, the Kwid. It seems Renault has successfully deciphered that the best way to find your way into the hearts -- or in this case, garages -- of our country’s car buyers is with an SUV, or at least a car that looks like one. Plus, if you promise a value for money proposition with a quantillion trim levels to choose from, you definitely have our attention. The classic case in point being the Duster. But Renault has yet to break into the premium market. The French carmaker did give it a shot with the Fluence and Koleos but neither managed to garner a customer base worth boasting about. But, with the new, stunning-looking Captur, can Renault finally make a dent in the premium crossover space?
First things first, the Captur shares the same platform as the Duster but that’s where the similarities more or less end. Where the Duster is the more traditional box-type SUV, the Captur boasts of a more contemporary design. The front is dominated by a sleek grille that runs from headlamp to headlamp and widens out at the centre, which houses that massive Renault insignia. The headlamps are petal-shaped wraparound LED units below which on the bumper sit C-shaped LED DRLs. The design flows effortlessly from A-pillar to C pillar and the flared wheel arches add to the muscle of the car.
There is plastic cladding all around for that distinctive rugged appeal while the two-tone paint adds a dash of premiumness to the car. The rear is just as striking as the front, with wraparound LED tail lamps mounted high on the tail and the flared wheel arches adding a bit of muscle.
The black cladding is complete with a faux skid plate and encroaches slightly into the tailgate, completing the shapely rear of the car. The whole car sits on 17-inch diamond-cut 5-spoke alloys adorned with Apollo Apterra tyres.
Step inside and the Captur welcomes you with a good-looking interior. The two-tone treatment has been carried over to the cabin as well. The dash is bathed in shades of black and white. Though it isn’t apparent at first, the connection to the Duster does come to the fore as you spend more time in the driver’s seat. The layout of the dash is similar to the Duster down to the AC vents. The instrument cluster though is different, with a central digital speedometer flanked by the tacho on the left and the fuel gauge on the right. It also houses a digital trip computer screen above the speedometer which displays all information like trip, distance to empty, cruising speed, average fuel consumption and real-time fuel economy.
The 7-inch infotainment system has also been borrowed from the Duster but has been updated for the Captur and gets Captur-specific themes. Connecting to Bluetooth is fairly straightforward and reconnecting after you re-enter the car after a pause is also seamless and almost instantaneous. It doesn’t however get Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which has become a norm these days even in more affordable cars. You do get inbuilt satellite navigation though. The touch controls, though intuitive all round, suffer from lag when playing music via Bluetooth. The quality of plastic used inside is good and is superior to the Duster but a bit of soft-touch materials – like in the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross – could have made the package look a bit more premium.
The seats are upholstered in faux leather and also get the two-tone treatment, in this case black and white. The driver’s perch is well contoured and features a supportive seat back but the seating position is more akin to a proper SUV rather than a crossover. With a high default seat height, it could make drivers 5’10” and above feel constrained for space.
The rear seat too has a similar story. The rear door is on the narrower side and doesn’t open as wide either. In addition, the B-pillar tends to be obstructive when getting into the back. But there’s enough space in the rear to seat three abreast in reasonable comfort.
The seat back offers decent support but comes across as a bit short. The squab, though adequate in length, doesn’t give the desired under-thigh support for taller occupants as the seat is lower and the space to stretch one’s legs is also limited. Stowage space, though, is limited in the cabin. The front door pockets can only hold a water bottle if it’s horizontal while the rear doors can only house a small 500ml water bottle at best. The boot space measures a sizeable 392 litres but to free up the space in the boot the spare wheel has been shifted to the outside.
Renault plans to bring only two variants of the Captur to India and claims that the base variant will at least be as equipped as its competition’s middle variants. The Captur will come with the LED lighting system as standard and will also offer features like climate control, cruise control, alloys, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and power windows for all four doors as a part of the standard package. Also included as standard will be safety features like dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, Hill Start Assist and ISOFIX mounts. The one we got was the top of the line Platine variant and the main differentiating factor between the base and the Platine will be the infotainment system, rear parking camera, ESP and more airbags.
The Captur will be powered by the 1.5 litre, 106PS H4K petrol and the 1.5-litre dCi diesel that also power the Duster. The Captur we got was the diesel Platine variant which makes 110PS of max power and 245Nm of peak torque. The diesel motor wakes up with the typical diesel engine clatter which also seeps into the cabin. The vibes disappear once on the move but the engine gurgle is audible throughout. The Captur feels light on its feet and there is ample pulling power from the torquey motor so long you keep the revs above the 2000rpm mark. Going off the line too takes a bit of effort. There is severe turbo lag from idle to 2000rpm so stalling the car is quite easy if you’re light-footed with the throttle. In addition, with a fully laden cabin the Captur cannot pull away in second gear from below 20kmph. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, also from the Duster. The clutch is quite heavy, which will make tackling bumper to traffic a literal pain. Also, the absence of a dead pedal means there’s nowhere for your left foot to go. However, the throws are short and precise, making the gearbox a treat to use.
Ride and Handling
Ride quality has been Renault’s USP and the Captur is no exception. The crossover absorbs all bumps and undulations with ease. Even the rumble strip and speed breaker-laden roads of Goa rarely upset the Captur’s composure. Even while fully laden, rear passengers will seldom complain. The stiffer suspension also translates to better confidence in the corners as the car stays true to its line; and body roll, though not completely absent, is not off-putting.
The steering, though well-weighed at speed, lacks feedback, which eats into the confidence the suspension inspires as you’re really sure how the front is behaving. The steering is also on the heavier side, which makes three-point turns quite tedious.The brakes provide plenty of stopping power but a bit more feel would have been appreciated.
When launched after Diwali, the Renault Captur will go up against the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross and the Hyundai Creta. Where the S-Cross has the brand trust going for it, the Creta is the leader in interior quality and convenience features. The Captur on the other hand is a car that would not look out of place on the streets of Paris and its head-turning status is a huge part of its appeal. In addition, the features list on the Captur is exhaustive and most of the convenience and safety features will be offered as standard along with numerous customization options. Yes, there are compromises in the package (like the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and the cabin is reminiscent of the Duster, but keeping the overall experience in mind, it isn’t a deal breaker and we hope the compromises will translate to a competitive pricing.
Words: Kshitij Sharma
Photography: Vikrant Date/Eshan Shetty