Renault Captur vs Vauxhall Mokka – crossover crunch time

The compact crossover part of the car market has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. Almost all of the major mainstream manufacturers offer buyers their own interpretation to choose from, so choosing can be tricky.

Two of the most popular are the Renault Captur and the Vauxhall Mokka. Both offer the raised driving positions and mini-SUV styling that buyers crave, but which makes the most sense? We’ve compared the two in all of the key areas to find out.

Styling

The Captur bears the current Renault family face, with an oversized badge in the centre the car’s most prominent feature. It’s a style which to our eyes works better on a small crossover than it does on the more conventional Clio supermini shape. To add a chunky vibe to the overall look, the Captur has swollen wheel arches and body mouldings finished in black plastic. Customisation options are fairly extensive, too – among other options, the roof can be painted a contrasting colour to the rest of the car.

While the paint choices are slightly more conventional for the Mokka, it uses many similar styling to the Captur cues to achieve the off-road look. Black plastic trim is used around the base of the front and rear bumpers, while a metal-effect skid plate at the rear rounds off the rugged effect. Its physical size helps give it presence, too: it’s more than 15cm longer and 10cm taller than the Renault. Both dimensions are worth bearing in mind if you have a small garage.

Interior

The Captur is well-liked by testers for its contemporary looking cabin. The centre of the dash is dominated by a large infotainment screen surrounded by piano black plastic, while items like the air vent and speaker surrounds can be finished in contrasting colours to liven things up. Overall it looks clean and tidy, although some of the ergonomics are questionable – the button to activate the cruise control is down beside the handbrake, for example.

In comparison to the Captur’s dashboard, the Mokka looks rather fussy. The issue is with the confusing array of buttons. The audio system is the biggest culprit, and it makes things look far more busy than the Captur’s touch screen. Elsewhere the design is fairly well laid out though, and the quality of plastics – while still not great – are better than the Renault’s on the whole.

Thanks to a higher driving position, the Mokka gives a commanding view of the road ahead. Rear visibility, however, isn’t great, and the smaller Captur feels slightly easier to drive as a result.

As you’d expect from the larger car, the Mokka manages to top the Captur for interior space, though not by quite as much as you might expect from the outside. The Renault boasts the bigger boot, too: the Mokka’s 360-litre load bay is trumped by the Captur’s 377, a figure which can expand to 455 if you’re willing to sacrifice a little rear legroom and slide the rear bench forward slightly.

Driving

While neither of these models are never going to offer sports car-like handling, in daily driving the Renault is the more fun to drive and more pleasant to use. While the Captur is marginally the more smooth-riding of the pair, the noise of bumps is well-suppressed in the Mokka, so both are closely matched in the refinement stakes.

The smaller, lighter Renault feels more agile through the bends though, with the Vauxhall’s higher centre of gravity becoming apparent through increased body roll when negotiating corners. Thanks to the more compact dimensions and lighter steering, the Captur is easier to park, at which point the Mokka’s extra height becomes a hinderance – you’ll really need to make use of rear parking sensors to judge the distances from cars behind.

All the other controls – brake and clutch pedal weight, gear shift quality, steering feel – are fairly unremarkable in both, but they’re adequate for the intended use.

Engines

Here, the two models are perhaps at their most different. In short, if you prioritise fuel economy above all else, pick the Renault. If you’d rather a little extra oomph, the Mokka is the car to go for.

The Renault is powered by one of four options; two petrol and two diesel. A 1.5-litre diesel is available in outputs of either 90 or 110 horsepower, and both are capable of a claimed 76.4mpg – that’s 7.5mpg better than the most efficient Mokka diesel. Petrol options are a 0.9-litre turbo and a 120hp 1.2-litre, both of which are capable of fuel economy in the fifties-mpg.

The Mokka’s engine range is generally more powerful than the Captur. Like the Renault, two petrols and two diesels are offered. While the 1.6-litre diesel in the Mokka can’t match the Captur’s fuel economy figures, at 136hp, performance is significantly better. A peak torque figure of 236lb ft makes it feel impressively flexible on the road, while it’s arguably the more refined choice, too.

The Vauxhall’s entry-level 1.6 petrol should be avoided – not only does it feel gutless, but it’s a whopping 15.6mpg more thirsty than the similarly-performing 0.9 Captur. In contrast, the 140hp 1.4-litre turbo is both smoother and more economical (at 47.1mpg) than the 1.6, plus it’s the fastest model in either range.

Value for money

Comparing the prices of the two cars will make you question just how vital the extra power the Vauxhall offers really is. Ignoring the sub-standard 1.6 petrol, the cheapest Mokka costs almost £19,000. In comparison, the more frugal 1.2-litre turbo Captur in Dynamique Nav trim costs £1,500 less, while entry-level models start from £14,295.

Company car users would be much better served with the Captur, too. The 1.5 diesel, in both states of tune, drops into the 17 percent Benefit in Kind bracket thanks to CO2 emissions between 95 to 99g/km. The cleanest-burning Mokka sits at 19 per cent, while the 136hp version sits a group higher still.

Verdict

Once all the main talking points are taken into account, the Renault is a fairly easy winner here. Aside from the Mokka’s superior performance, the Captur’s more frugal units are more desirable, and it’s both easier and more fun to drive. The Vauxhall isn’t as practical as we’d hope from a car of its size, either, and the Renault is the more modern-looking both inside and out.

So the Captur has already totted up plenty of points against the Mokka, and that’s even before we come to the biggest: the price. The Vauxhall is too expensive to justify, unless you’re really keen on a top-spec model. It isn’t just the Renault which is the cheaper to buy, either – with the likes of the Nissan Juke and Suzuki Vitara to compete against too, the Mokka is some way off the best buys in its class.

Save money on your new car – Captur or Mokka

Read our full, aggregated reviews of the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka to see what the UK’s motoring press says about them. If you like the look of either of these mini-SUVs use our Captur and Mokka configurators to see how much money you could save off a new one. Alternatively if you’re struggling to decide which new car is for you, use our car chooser to help you.

Renault Captur

One of the best (and most distinctive) SUVs for the price
7.2
£14,945 - £22,610
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Vauxhall Mokka

Compact SUV is spacious and safe
5.7
£16,789 - £25,264
RRP
Read review
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