It’s taken Nissan’s sister brand Renault some time to come up with its own version of the Juke. Finally hitting the UK in 2013, the Captur provides a slightly more tasteful take on the mini-SUV sector.
Springing from the same Nissan/Renault B platform as the Juke – and the current generation of Clio – it can truly be considered the twin of Nissan’s challenging-looking runaway sales success. So what can the Captur bring to the table that the Juke is missing? We’ve spent a week trying to find out.
2015 Renault Captur – styling
Straight away the Renault scores some big points over its sibling because the Captur is a bit of a looker – of course, you’ll have to make your own mind up whether it’s cooler than the Juke’s more outlandish style.
By simply choosing to stick with a more conventional Clio-esque fascia, updated to include a splash of chrome in the grille, foglight surrounds and the valences, the Captur manages to pull off a chic look that has a pretty broad appeal. The sides are nicely crinkled and dished, and the wheel arch extensions really emphasise the off-road look so beloved of late.
At the rear it perhaps steers too far into conventional, with the rear lights becoming a little lost in the acres of metal. There’s also a bifurcated section of the window line that doesn’t make much sense unless you order a model with a contrasting roof – not available on entry-level Expression models.
2015 Renault Captur – interior
The Captur’s insides are something of a dichotomy, so let’s deal with the good first. There’s oodles of piano black and chrome panel finishing to give a high quality feel to the surfaces you’ll be fondling every day. That large LCD screen is very easy to use, fairly response and very clear indeed – if you order a model with navigation, it’s pretty fuss free. All the media interactivity is as it should be and the binnacle is lovely and clear, even if the chrome trim is a bit Dame Edna Everage.
There’s a lot of customisation on offer too, if you get a bit busy with the options list – though again not available to base model buyers – our car was specified with changeable and washable ‘Arizona’ orange panelled cloth, but other colours and styles are also available. On this model the seat backs had bright orange bungee cord rather than pockets, which means that aspiring bass guitarist toddlers can give you a rhythm as you drive.
It’s even reasonably roomy and spacious – we’ve no complaints about headroom or legroom, even though the aforementioned children can reach those seat backs with their feet.
You can probably see this “but” coming from a mile off. Everything you don’t touch on a daily basis is fabricated in unpleasant plastic that’s very scratchy and cheap-feeling. To be damningly kind, we’d say it’s a wipe clean interior – ideally suited for the daily chore of ferrying explosively messy children about. The washable seat covers add to that effect – if Travolta and Jackson had their Pulp Fiction ‘accident’ in the Captur, they could clean up with a damp cloth and a washing machine and do Harvey Keitel out of a job.
Our oddest complaint of all about the Captur is the location of the cruise control/speed limiter switch. While the controls are sited in the usual place, the button to turn them on or off is way down on the floor, behind the gearstick – somewhere that can be hard to reach for the less ape-like, as the front seats are seemingly purloined from one of Renault’s excellent vans.
2015 Renault Captur – engine
But then it’s not intended to inspire – this isn’t a track car or some hot model, rather a hatchback-based crossover. It’s true that, with a 13-second 0-60mph time, you won’t be winning the traffic light grand prix but all that matters is that it has sufficient thrust to haul you about.
It does that without too much of a struggle, proving to be just as fine on motorways as on city streets. However, as with many things these days, the on-paper fuel economy is a little on the optimistic side. After clearing the trip counter and running the car entirely in Eco mode (which limits acceleration) we were averaging just over 56mpg. That’s some way off the 76mpg on-paper claim and our Eco driving display said our driving style was 78% economical.
2015 Renault Captur – driving
It’s time to make another mark in the uninspiring column – a driver’s car this is certainly not. Of course this may not be especially relevant either, as few people will be buying a Captur to thread up a B-road, but it’s not the most composed of vehicles when asked to do quick direction changes. It’ll keep up a decent lick if you’re willing to hang on, though we’d be more inclined to hit the Eco button and cruise to the destination.
It is far more at home in the urban environment, where the soft suspension is more welcome. The Captur isn’t that bothered by wrinkly roads and has nicely light steering to cope with tight streets and car parks. It can get a little unduly worried by long speed bumps, as if slightly under damped, but potholes aren’t a trial.
Take the Captur out onto the motorway and it’s pretty quiet and composed. There’s not much wind noise and very little road noise other than over expansion joints.
2015 Renault Captur – value for money
Our test vehicle came in Dynamique MediaNav trim, weighing in at £16,595. It’s pretty well equipped, with the only additional kit beyond what you see here being technological (the Renault R-Link multimedia system) and the £1,000 paint job – the latter of which we’d happily leave behind. This doesn’t make it any more expensive than an ordinary hatchback for nicely kitted-out car, but we’re a little surprised by the lack of a reversing camera option. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you’ll need to step up to the Signature trim, but that starts at £800 more.
Inexpensive to buy, it’s also not particularly expensive to run. The insurance grouping is a fairly low 12 of 50 and, while the claimed fuel economy is a bit lofty, mid-50s are easily achieveable. Watch out for depreciation though, as Renaults are not traditionally excellent performers in that regard – figure on about a 40% three year return.
2015 Renault Captur – verdict
If you’re wanting a car that does absolutely everything, a crossover is a good place to start, but the Captur isn’t it. There’s not enough talent in the handling and there’s no performance of which to speak.
Abandon all notions of sportiness though and the Captur makes a good case for itself. It’s not quite as in your face as its sibling but then it doesn’t fall into the masses of boring-looking crossovers either. It does an excellent job around town – where it’ll spend most of its time – and has a nice ride, plenty of room and is well kitted for the money. While we’ve got some misgivings about the interior materials, they will at least stand up to the worst that someone else’s kids can throw at it.
All in all, if you’re after a crossover based on a small hatchback rather than the larger family car offerings, the Captur ought to be near the top of your shortlist – and if you can’t stomach the Juke’s looks, it probably should be the favourite.