In what I would deem a similar vein to how their sporting opposition approaches them, it’s always with a hint of trepidation when I jump inside and review anything French. It’s not that I am opposed to the thought of driving a French vehicle, in fact, much to the contrary, I look forward to it, it’s just that there is an underlying sense of unexpectedness about them, an unspoken anticipation of something ‘left field’ inevitably about to unfold. However, as with all rules, there is an exception and it would appear in this case, the Renault Captur is it – well in the most part.
The Renault Captur is a compact crossover SUV, in other words, a very capable city dwelling utility vehicle. At a shade over 4.1m in length and well under half that in width 1.8m, it will easily fit into Mall parking spaces and yet still ferry 5 people around without too much of a squeeze and a usable 455L of luggage space (there’s also an 11L drawer inside that I completely missed). As expected, it’s rather chic looking, with LED lights all round, expressive panel shaping, 16” alloys, fixed glass sunroof and (in my review cars case) red and black two-tone paintwork.
Under the bonnet is a 1200cc turbocharged engine that produces 88kW and 190Nm, neither of which would impress their F1 team but feels more than adequate for day to day driving, most of the time I spend looking at the tail end of another vehicle anyway. The transmission is a 6-speed dual clutch EDC auto that is very efficient (5.4L/100km combined) but may take a little getting used to for some, as it offers a bit a manual gearbox style roll back every now and again.
The interior has a modern freshness about it (although fewer trips to the hard plastic department would have been ok). The seats are soft and forgiving (ideal for us more robust creatures) and the striped design that’s very eye-catching. Infotainment comes via a 7” touchscreen that is easy to navigate around (although phone connection took me a while – I need to smarten up).
The Captur’s slightly elevated ride height makes city visibility simple. Also, the raised ground clearance negates the need to worry about kerbs when parking front on. Out of the concrete jungle, the compact SUV handles motorway driving well although I had to search for the cruise control button that actually resided between the two front seats (where else).
I actually enjoyed the Renault Captur and I can see why it’s so popular overseas. There is (of course) some quirkiness about it, the keyfob is a card shape that slots into the centre console, the EDC gearbox, the elastic straps behind the front seats for (sort of) holding things – I could go on. It’s a fun compact SUV that happily shows off its creative side and really does captur your eye and stands out from the norm.