What’s an ‘e’ between the English and French languages? Renault’s first crossover is the five door supermini B segment sized Captur (pronounced Capture) which has just started to arrive in UK dealerships at prices ranging from £12,495 to £18,895.
It fits into the fast developing new sector which combines supermini hatchback size with SUV/MPV/4x4 looks. The market leading Nissan Juke uses the same platform as its Alliance partner Renault for the new Clio and now the Captur.
Renault do not give sales projections but the Nissan Juke averages around 3,000 UK sales a month and Peugeot expects to sell up to 9,000 of their 18 model new 2008 crossover range in the UK in a full year. The Skoda Yeti is also a strong sales contender with Vauxhall having entered the arena with their Mokka range, Chevrolet with their Trax and Dacia with the budget priced Sandero Stepway. The MINI Countryman/All4 models are also a contenders and soon Fiat joins this small crossover circus with their 500L Trekking and Ford will have their Fiesta based EcoSport range on the market before the end of the year.
Size matters in today’s economically stressed market with the B-segment now accounting for around one third of all new cars sold in the UK being fuelled by down-sizers who want more than a conventional small hatchback. They also like the ruggedness and style of an SUV, the higher and more versatile seating layout of an MPV but want the lower running and taxation costs of a supermini hatch.
Another ‘must have’ requirement, started by MINI and continued by Fiat but now part of most manufacturers planning, is personalisation. Alice De Ward Fenton, Renault’s Capture product manager personalisation options are key in the new B-segment with 50% of Clio customers taking these extra features to make the model of their choice.
In addition to the core Expression, Express+, the likely best selling Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav levels of specification the personalisation programme adds the choices of Arizona, Miami and Manhattan combinations of interior and exterior bodywork colours, wheels, trims and decals. The Captur has endless opportunities to be kitted out for life in the urban jungle.
The well-equipped Expression offers 16-inch alloy wheels, 60/40 split and sliding rear seat bench, body coloured bumpers, cruise control, ECO mode (up to 10% fuel saving),electronic stability control, traction control, front and rear electric windows, hill start assist, speed limiter and trip computer.
Moving to Expression+ takes things up a notch with front fog lights, body coloured door mirrors and handles and hands-free keycard. It also features auto lights and wipers and climate control.
The likely UK best-seller, Dynamique MediaNav, brings in the world of personalisation as well as the zipped seat covers which can be simply wiped or washed. They can also be replaced to freshen up the interior come resale time. Its personalisation comes in the form of a chrome colour pack covering the headlight surrounds and tailgate strip, plus centre console, air vent and gearlever gaiter surrounds among others. Naturally, the mid-range trim, befitting its name, features MediaNav, the integrated multimedia tablet with seven-inch touchscreen, including Navteq Nav ‘n’ Go satellite navigation, 4x20W Arkamys radio, Bluetooth, USB and handsfree technology. It also has cornering lights and a leather steering wheel (with gloss insert) and gearknob.
Rounding off the newcomer’s line-up is Dynamique S MediaNav. As the flagship version it gains folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, a contrasting roof and door mirror colour, plus coloured exterior gloss and interior Touch Packs, tinted rear windows and 17-inch coloured alloy wheels.
The significant omission is for the option of four wheel drive or an alternative grip control 2WD system as Peugeot offers for the new 2008. Renault is now considering offering such an option and they do have a Grip Xtend traction control system in their Scenic MPV range. Their strange decision not to include it in the Captur’s long list of options was based on the fact that in the UK only 4% of Nissan Jukes are sold with 4WD.
With our disintegrating road surfaces and changing weather conditions bringing more flooding and with less treatment for our ice and snow covered Winter roads, rural customers at least would willingly pay a bit extra for that added peace-of-mind provided by a modern on demand 4WD system or at least a simple added front wheel drive traction system which generally includes tougher, grippier and more durable tyres.
Renault sees the Captur as appealing to a young family urban audience. I disagree in part, why restrict its appeal by pigeonholing it, open up its attraction to rural dwellers young and old.
On the subject of choices there are currently three turbocharged engines to choose from including the all-new 1.2 TCe 120 four cylinder petrol EDC automatic. Joining it is the 0.9 TCe 90 three cylinder petrol and the 1.5 dCi 90 four cylinder diesel. An EDC dual clutch version of the dCi 90 will follow later in 2013. Improving fuel economy and helping to drive down emissions still further, Stop&Start is standard on every manual. The dCi 90 also sits snuggly under the 100g/km VED band, meaning there’s no road tax in either the first year, or currently, beyond.
Predominately the Captur is likely to be bought by retail customers where price matters but not at the expense of reasonable performance so the 1.5-litre dCi 90 diesel with Stop&Start giving an official 76.4mpg with only 95g/km of tax gathering CO2 emissions would be my choice especially as the Expression version costs an appealing £13,895. Its higher torque output of 162lb ft from 1,750rpm makes it more responsive to drive, really flexible at low in town speeds with good pick up mid range and should return in real-life around 60mpg.
However for petrol addicts Renault showcased at the UK media launch the new 1.2-litre petrol unit fitted as standard with their twin-clutch automatic gearbox. The least expensive version with this engine has Dynamique MediaNav specification and is priced at £17,195 so its price puts it out of the frame for me. There is always the choice of the tiny 0.9-litre, three cylinder TCe 90 petrol engine which carries the lowest purchase price from £12,495 and being a retail car this is likely to be the best seller. But I would suggest its worth paying the extra £1,400 and going for the more responsive 1.5-litre dCi 90 diesel engine which will nicer to drive, better for fuel economy with lower taxes.
Whichever version is chosen the Captur should be a strong sales competitor in this new sector. It has quirky ‘notice me’ looks, the handling is nimble but the ride is fidgety, not uncomfortable, but it feels less settled on country roads. At just over four-metres in length it is relatively roomy with a large boot and the elevated seats give good visibility.
MILESTONES: Renault Captur Dynamique MediaNav TCe 120 Auto 5-Door. Price: £17,195. Engine/transmission: New 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol, 118bhp, 140lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed twin clutch auto gearbox with front wheel drive. Performance: 119mph, 0-62mph 10.9 seconds, 52.3mpg Combined Cycle, (40.1mpg on test), CO2 125g/km VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £105 second year onwards, BIK company car tax 17%. Insurance group: 14E. Warranty: 4-years/100,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,122mm, H 1,566mm, W 1,778mm, boot/load space 377 to 1,235-litres, max braked towing weight 900kg. For: Quirky but pleasing styling inside and out, roomy, good sized boot, easy to live with, elevated seating, good visibility, wide range of personalisation options, diesel model is best for lower running costs and better engine response. Against: No 4WD or Grip Xtend system, no lower spec model with this engine, no manual gearbox option for this new engine, fidgety ride, cornering bodyroll, some versions plus options look too expensive. Miles Better News Agency