Renault Captur Review
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The Renault Captur promises to be rugged and practical like an SUV, but sleek and premium too. A complete road test shows whether it delivers or not.
SUVs are evolving to meet the needs of the modern day car buyers. Most of us spend more time between cramped parking lots, glitzy hotel lobbies, open highways and potholed city streets, rather than on dirt and rocks. The need for a SUV that is tough and tempting has been explored by luxury brands, however, now car buyers on smaller budgets are also getting options, like the Renault Captur. While it is based on the hardy Renault Duster, the Captur promises a premium and stylish experience to give it an edge. We tested the Captur to see if it can deliver a tempting balance of form and function.
The Captur's crossover design may not appeal to all at first glance. But, spend some time with it and the edgy design grows on you. We once parked it next to a Duster at a restaurant and were pleasantly surprised at how mature the Captur looked. Yes, it isn't as tall as a conventional boxy SUV, but there’s no doubt that it looks like a premium offering.
Will you give it a second glance? Oh yes. It's got a bit of novelty on its side for now, and the bright orange colour our test car wore only aided the eye-ball grabbing. There are some premium car elements here too. That includes the full-LED headlamps and the Audi-like 'dynamic' turn indicators. Low beam has a wide spread and a long throw too. But, in terms of illumination - it felt just a bit brighter than the LED projectors we've used in the Ignis or the Dzire.
The profile and the rear are a notch understated compared to the face. The design here has some understated French flair, which is going to be an acquired taste for most. That said, the 17-inch wheels look classy, and the 215/60R17 tyres look just right sitting under the flared wheel arches.
The two-tone is well-executed, and it's easy to see why Renault say the Captur was designed to sport a dual-tone paint scheme even since it was conceptualised. Keep in mind that the dual-tone combination will be an option. There's quite a lot of customisation options on offer as well, which should give you the liberty to deck the Captur up the way you want to.
From the rear, the Captur tries hard to shrug off the resemblance to the little Kwid. The tail lamps, the bumper and the windscreen all look like polished, grown-up version of the hatchback. That's not necessarily a bad thing in our books, though.
Getting inside the Captur is a bit of occasion. There's no bulky key fob, but a sleek looking credit card-sized 'access card'. Sure, we've seen this with the Koleos and the Fluence years ago - but it still seems cool to have. The shape of the key makes it very pocketable, something we appreciate when out of the car. In the car, the card can be parked in a slot on the centre console. Pulling it out automatically kills off the electricals when the engine is switched off. Thoughtful!
Once you start getting comfortable in the front seats, you realise that the seating position is quite high. You tower over the dash and although you can't see the low-set nose, you do get a confidence-inspiring view of the road up ahead. The cushioning on the seat is a tad stiffer than what we've seen on the Duster. But, that’s a good thing - it won’t tire you out over longer journeys. The seats hold you well in place, and we’ve got no complains as far as support for the sides or the lower back is concerned.
The seat lets you manually adjust for height, angle and reach. But, the steering adjusts only for tilt. While reach adjust would’ve been good to have, we didn’t have issues getting into a comfortable driving position. That said, the taller folks will find their knees brushing against the centre console and their hairdo rubbing against the roof lining.
That’s down to the way the dashboard has been designed with a prominent, bulging centre console. There’s a lot to like about the design though as it flows effortlessly from one door pad to the other. It looks a lot trendier than the Creta’s or the S-Cross’ dash that have a no-frills design. On a related note, it’s a lot more upmarket than the Duster and the Terrano that have a utilitarian approach.
The colour palette mixes black, white and rose gold in good measure. The textured finish of the dash feels pleasant to touch, although a proper soft-touch dash (or even an insert like in the S-Cross) would’ve upped the premium quotient by a huge margin.
Getting into the rear is a bit of a task. A wider opening would’ve made ingress and egress a lot easier. Once in, there’s little to complain about. You don’t feel hemmed in inspite of the rising window line and the tallish seating makes you further feel at ease. Space on the inside is just about enough for two six-footers to sit behind each other. The cabin is wide enough to accommodate three passengers, but the seat back isn’t exactly flat for the middle occupant. Three healthy individuals will rub shoulders, but it should do just fine for a quick highway trip too.
At 4329mm, the Captur is the longest in its class. The wheelbase is the largest at 2673mm as well. But, sitting inside makes you wonder if all that length could’ve been used more effectively. Then there’s the 390-litre boot that’s far from being the biggest in volume. But, the opening is wide and there’s not much of a loading lip - so you can easily brim it up.
- Legroom (Min-Max): 945-1085mm
- Kneeroom (Min-Max): 540-730mm
- Cabin Width (Shoulder Room): 1355mm
- Headroom (Min-Max): 940-990mm
- Seat Base (Length x Width): 490mm x 505mm
- Seat Back Height: 660mm
- Kneeroom (Min-Max): 640mm-850mm
- Shoulder Room: 1280mm
- Headroom: 945mm
- Seat base (Length x Width): 460mm x 1245mm
- Seat Back Height: 590mm
Let’s kick things off with the “infinity” instrument display. That’s a fancy name, and it looks swanky too. The big digital speedo is easy to read, and the MID is home to a host of information including average speed and distance to empty. It’s a bit confusing to figure out how to cycle through the data on the display at first. We’ll save you the trouble - you use the two switches located on the wiper stalk.
And if you aren’t used to Renault cars, you’ll hunt for the audio controls on the steering wheel too. Well, that’s placed on a separate stalk behind the steering wheel. It takes a maximum of 15 minutes to get used to, and once you do - you’d find it to be very convenient. Speaking of which, the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system looks dated considering we’ve been seeing it for the past few years in the Duster, Lodgy and the Kwid. It would’ve also been handy to have connectivity features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Now, the screen is reasonably quick to respond to inputs, but the interface just seems dated. Audio quality from the six-speaker setup is something you could live with, without feeling the need for an upgrade.
More tech comes in the form of automatic climate control. There’s no fancy multiple-zone cooling business here, just a simple interface that works without a hiccup. While onsetting winter isn’t the best time to test out the efficiency of an AC, it never gave us a reason to complain. It cools the cabin quickly, and the blowers aren’t noisy either. Unlike the Duster the rear occupants of the Captur get their own AC vents, but the blower speed is not adjustable - one can only control flow.
Engine and Performance
The Captur borrows the Duster’s 1.5-litre diesel motor. And, unlike the Duster diesel that gets a choice of two engine tunes - the Captur gets the higher 110PS/245Nm spec only. Fire the engine up, and you’re greeted by a typical diesel clatter that settles into a smooth idle. Get going, drive calmly and the insulation is enough to cut out most of the diesel engine’s sound. But, when you push it hard, expect to hear quite a lot of it.
Driving the Captur calmly inside the city is something you learn to do. The heavy clutch bites in quite late, and when it does - there’s not much progress from the engine. You will have to go heavy on the throttle, and get the engine ticking over 2000rpm if you want to get anywhere quickly. Below the 2k mark, the Captur feels a bit lacklustre. This means that a quick overtake inside the city, will most definitely require a downshift. When the turbo kicks in, it kicks in with all its might. So, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to ‘control’ the surge. But, drive it around for a while and you’d learn to work around it, and time your overtakes to make use of this wave of torque. Roll on times are quite strong - the Captur does 30-80kmph (in third) in 7.77 seconds, and 40-100kmph (in fourth) takes 11.56 seconds. For reference, an all-out 0-100kmph sprint is dealt with in 13.24 seconds. It could be a lot faster, if the ESP wasn’t as obtrusive
Out on the highway, the Captur is at absolute ease. It’d make for a fantastic road-tripper. Getting to triple digit speeds is a fuss-free affair, and maintaining it easier still. Slot it into sixth, set the cruise control and let it take over. The open highways seem like the Captur’s natural home. It sips consciously here too - the big Renault returned a respectable 21.09kmpl, whereas the figure was a healthy 15.50kmpl inside the city.
Ride and Handling
On long, flowy corners - the Captur felt composed and confident. It masks its weight quite well as it goes from one corner to the other. The steering is quick to respond, and is precise as well. Flick it into a bend, and the nose tucks in quickly. You wouldn’t be correcting the steering input often either. But, push it a bit and you’re met with understeer. In interest of keeping you safe, there’s ESP that cuts the power off. And yes, if you’re cornering too hard, you’d get the kickback from the steering that the Duster was notorious for. Again, that’s something you learn to work around. So, yes - there’s some effort involved to hustle the Captur, and oddly, that’s what makes it involving.
When you’re done picking corners, and want a relaxed drive back home - the Captur delivers yet again. It has also imbibed the Duster’s stellar ride quality. It seems oblivious to the concept of speed breakers and broken roads. Even if you fly off a speed breaker, be rest assured you will land in a soft, controlled manner. But, over the smaller, sharper surfaces, rumble strips for example; the Captur feels a bit harsh. Thankfully, the cabin settles almost immediately.
The Captur is available in a total of four variants called the RXE, RXL, RXT and Platine. While the diesel motor can be had in any variant, the petrol is offered with the first three variants only. Additionally, the top two variants can be specced with a dual-tone colour scheme as well. In line with new safety norms, dual airbags and ABS are standard across the range. Even the base-spec version of the Captur is pretty well kitted with features such as projector headlamps, automatic climate control, remote control card and a four-speaker audio system. The most value-for-money variant is the RXT as it offers a lot more compared to the RXL, for a marginal bump in price. Additional goodies include navigation, automatic headlamps, keyless entry, LED fog lamps and a reverse parking camera.
So, has Renault managed to walk the tightrope balancing usability and bling? Yes they have. It’s comfortable, reasonably fun to drive and munches highway miles for breakfast. Of course, there are hiccups - it could’ve been tuned for better everyday drivability, and some more space at the back would’ve been good too. But, neither takes away from the fact that underneath the flash, it’s a sensible crossover. If you’ve been eyeing a mid-size SUV, and feel like the Creta is a bit too vanilla - the Captur is worth looking at.
Photography: Vikrant Date