Renault’s Fab Captur

Renault’s Fab Captur

Renault is a brand which sails under a lot of radars, but I think it deserves to have more buyer’s bums on seats, if only for a test drive.

Captur is Renault’s baby SUV and is built on the same platform as the Clio (and the unlovable Nissan Juke).

The 88kw/190Nm 4 cylinder turbo petrol engine drives the front wheels via a 6 speed DCT (dual clutch transmission). The latter was a bit grabby, but more about that later.

There are two models in the range. Intens, and Zen. Intens is the top model.

it comes with oodles of features like LED auto headlights, auto wipers, blind spot monitoring and keyless entry/start. It also comes with Walk-away locking, by far my favourite feature. Once you learn to trust it, it is invaluable. The key can remain secreted about your person for the duration. You simply close the door and walk away with a slightly supercilious grin on your pus.

The exterior styling chunkier than I’d like, but seems to look much better after you drive it. It’s funny how that works.

The cheeky (and somewhat polarising) exterior looks more like a high-set hatchback, as most of the baby SUVs do. The two tone bodywork has the neat effect of slimming down the slightly chunky profile, and I like that.

There is a small rubber button on the door handle to unlock the doors, and can also be used to lock the car, if you don’t trust the walk-away feature. Naturally you can use the key fob buttons if you prefer. There are choices galore. Gone are the days of sticking a key in a hole while standing in the pouring rain.

Once inside, you quickly get comfy in the leather seats. Height and reach adjustable steering, and a height adjustable steering wheel create an ideal driving position.

We’ve demonstrated the automated parking feature in the Megane GT here:

It get’s you in to most parking spaces, and even gets you out of a parallel space. It is surprisingly good at what it does, but most times I prefer doing it myself. The instruments are all within easy reach, but the Cruise control/speed limiter switch on the centre console, would be better placed on the steering wheel with the rest of their controls.

That part of the design, while adding a touch of French flair, drives me nuts.

The audio/phone controls are on a flat stalk behind the steering wheel. Although they are easy to use if you know where they are, they are poorly placed if you don’t know which button does what. They’re obscured from view unless you’re going around a corner. It seems silly, unnecessary, and out of step with the rest of the industry.

The centre stack has a high quality LCD touch screen. Although it has many attributes including Android Auto, there is no Apple CarPlay, so Iphone users have no phone mirroring. It is a dreadful oversight in my opinion given how many Apple users there are.

This is because R-Link 1 is not compatible with CarPlay, but models such as Megane and Koleos have R-Link 2 which will mirror both phone platforms. Koleos was upgraded last year to R-Link 2, so fingers crossed the same will happen with Captur.

Our car had an audio upgrade with Bose speakers. The sound was fabulous, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a car costing a sensation over $33,000 driveaway.

Driver instruments and readouts are clear and easy to use. There is a neat digital speedo centre stage, flanked by other driver info either side.

The LED cabin lighting creates a discrete and calming ambience at night, and feels incredibly expensive and luxurious.

Mel Cross, Renault’s PR guru and chief spokesperson, says it I all about adding value without increasing the purchase price.

I was surprised to see lots and lots of absolutely no gear paddles on the steering wheel, but they won’t be missed. The gear lever can be moved to the left if manual gear selection is more your style. This isn’t the kind of car where that really matters anyway. It is a sports activity vehicle, not a sports car.

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