The 2020 Renault Captur has a lot to live up to. It is the second generation of Europe’s best-selling compact crossover and a car that, along with the new Clio, makes up a large part of Renault’s overall sales.
The original Captur was launched in 2013. Since then more than 1.5 million have been sold worldwide, of which 142,000 have come to the UK. At the time of launch it was one of two compact crossovers available (alongside the Nissan Juke), but the market for cars of this type has since exploded. At the current time anybody thinking about buying a compact crossover has more than 20 different models to consider. Question is, should this new Captur be one of them?
A PLUG-IN CAPTUR
The short answer to that question is ‘yes’. For what Renault has done with this all-new Captur is renew the strengths of the old car while at the same time making a raft of improvements.
Externally it doesn’t look hugely different from its predecessor, but the second generation Captur is in fact all-new, right down to its platform. Codenamed CMF-B, this platform is shared with the new Clio, and is not only lighter and strong than the previous Captur’s, but is also set up to accommodate electrification. To that end a plug-in hybrid Captur is being launched in summer 2020. This will combine a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 9.8kWh battery and an electric motor to give a pure electric driving range of up to 28 miles.
Another of the benefits of the new platform is that it allows Renault to equip the Captur with its latest active safety systems. These include lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (both standard on all models), as well as traffic jam assist and a 360-degree camera on higher spec versions.
SMART, PRACTICAL AND HIGH QUALITY
The latest underpinnings result in a Captur that is longer (by 110mm) and fractionally wider than the old model. Along with a wider grille and creases on the bonnet this helps to give the car a tougher stance to make it appear even more SUV-like than before. Renault’s signature LED headlights sharpen the design at the front of the car, but it’s arguably at the rear where the latest Captur makes the greatest strides in terms of design.
The interior design is based on that of the new Clio, albeit with everything stacked a little higher to help give the feel of this being a junior SUV. As with the Clio, the materials and perceived quality are outstanding for a mainstream; this is an interior with a definite feelgood factor, particularly if you go for one of the optional colour packs (as pictured below).
The ergonomics are fundamentally sound, and there’s a decent amount of in-car storage, including large doorbins. The two available touchscreens are borrowed from the Clio. As standard there’s a 7-inch unit (pictured above) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Higher up the range Renault introduces its 9.3-inch portrait-mounted screen (pictured below), which gives the Captur a more hi-tech feel. That’s particularly so if you pair it with the 10-inch digital dials, although it should be noted that the standard analogue items with their central digital trip computer are also completely fit for purpose.
ONE OF THE MOST VERSATILE SMALL CROSSOVERS
Perhaps where the Captur really steals ground from the competition though is in the versatility of its interior. As before the rear seats slide so that you can trade legroom (which is already 17mm more generous than in the old model) for extra boot space. With the seats in their rearmost setting there’s enough room to carry a tall adult behind a tall driver without anybody having serious cause for complaint. Thanks to an almost flat floor it’s also not out of the question to get three people in the back of a 2020 Captur – helped by the bench being 40mm wider than in the old model.
The boot is also an extremely useful size; even with the seats slid back the Captur offers lots of room, and the dual-height floor is a neat touch. Slide the rear seats forward and lower the floor and the result is 536 litres of luggage capacity – that’s 81 litres more than in the first-generation Captur, and puts this latest model on a par with many cars from the class above.
ENGINE RANGE AND TRIM LEVELS
All Capturs are front-wheel drive. The engine range consists of petrol in 1.0- or 1.3-litre capacities, or a 1.5-litre diesel, with the plug-in hybrid to follow. The base 1.0-litre puts out 99bhp and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Upgrade to the 1.3 petrol and, along with another 29bhp, you get six gears in the manual gearbox, or the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A 153bhp version of the engine is available on top-spec models.
The output of the diesel engine ranges from 94- to 113bhp; again, by going for the lower-output variant you’re limited to a manual gearbox, whereas the higher-powered model can also be had as an automatic.
DRIVING THE 2020 RENAULT CAPTUR
Our first test drive was in the 1.0-litre petrol with a manual gearbox. While no firecracker in terms of performance (0-62mph takes 13.3 seconds), the little three-cylinder, turbocharged engine pulls gamely enough. But it could really do with a sixth gear to make acceleration feel zippier. That the engine doesn’t start to pull in earnest until there’s 2,000rpm on the clock means you regularly find yourself reaching for a lower gear… at which point you’ll note that the shift action of the gearbox feels slightly clunky. On the plus side, this is a refined little engine, and it returned a respectable 40mpg in a mixed driving route.
We also sampled the more potent 1.3-litre petrol, which feels more up to the task of hauling around a family and their luggage, and proved to be no less economical than the smaller engine. In our test car the engine was paired with Renault’s EDC automatic gearbox, which is smooth enough in normal driving but can take a moment to respond when you ask it to kick down to a lower gear in order to accelerate.
RIDE AND HANDLING
Ford Puma aside, these small crossovers don’t tend to be particularly satisfying as driver’s cars. So it is with the Captur. That said, this latest model is at least a notable step forward on its predecessor, turning into corners with a bit more urgency and hanging on gamely once there. What’s more, its tall body doesn’t lean too heavily when you want to carry speed through a corner, and its steering is direct.
The downside is that to achieve this lack of body lean Renault has had to make the Captur fairly stiffly sprung, which gives the ride a fidgety quality. This is particularly evident at low speed, although the 2020 Renault Captur isn’t the only car in its class to suffer in this regard.
Whether these details matter is not as clear cut as you might think. Renault’s own research shows that it’s not driving manners but design that serves as the most important reason for buyers choosing a Captur over one of its rivals. In that regard this new model should find a receptive audience. It’s handsome, practical, and has all the tech you’d expect to find in this class in 2020. Plus it’ll be one of the first small crossovers to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
In a competitive and highly popular class, it seems likely the Captur will continue to stand out as one of the frontrunners.
2020 Renault Captur
Price: from £17,595. As tested in Iconic TCe 100 trim £19,095
0-62mph: 13.3 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Fuel economy: 47.1mpg (WLTP combined). On test 47mpg.
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