Lots of crossovers have tried to recreate the formula of the big-selling Nissan Juke, but the Renault Captur – set to hit dealers in June – comes closest The two cars share the same platform and both feature eye-catching styling, but does the Captur have that desirability that sets the Juke apart from every other model in this class?
It doesn’t take long to realise that fun has been traded for a comfortable, forgettable drive. You sit up high – 100mm higher than a Clio – which gives you a decent view of the road, although the slicked-back A-pillars can get in the way at junctions. The steering is light and fairly direct, but doesn’t really tell you much about what the nose is doing. Grip is reasonable – the Captur is front-wheel-drive only – and the brakes do a decent job of slowing the car, which weighs around 100kg more than the current Clio.
The 1.5-litre diesel is pretty smooth, although can be a bit noisy at higher revs and on a trailing throttle on the motorway. But while it delivers some spectacular claimed fuel economy figures, it’s no performer and struggles a little, particularly if you’re driving a hilly route or carrying lots of heavy stuff. The five-speed gearbox is lovely and slick, but the ratios are quite long and take some getting used to – most notably with the lack of engine braking when descending a steep hill.
The suspension set-up has been tuned for comfort, too, so bodyroll in the bends is fairly pronounced. However, while the Captur can jiggle around over smaller bumps – particularly when fitted with 17-inch wheels - it settles down nicely on the motorway. It’s a quiet cruiser, too, helped by standard-fit cruise control on all models.
But while it might not be the most engaging drive, the Captur has other talents. For a start, there’s the way it looks. While the Juke’s styling is pretty polarising, Renault’s latest design language seriously suits its new crossover.
Like the Clio, it features a large, upright Renault badge on its nose, swept-back rather feline headlights and neat gloss trim around the foglights on our top-spec test car. If you can stretch to it, we’d recommend the £300 extra it costs to get the two-tone roof, which gives the Captur an extra classy edge.
As the Captur effectively replaces the Modus, it features a number of MPV-inspired touches to the interior, including stacks of storage in the doors and on the dash, a solidly-built dashboard, and a sliding rear seat bench. In its rearmost position, you get lots of head and legroom, as well as a 377-litre boot. Slide it 160mm forward and you get just enough space for an adult to take a short trip in the back, but boot space jumps to 455 litres. The seat backs fold 60-40, but don’t go fully flat. The boot floor has two levels, and the divider is plastic on one side, making transporting muddy boots easy.
The Captur also features Renault’s patented removable seat covers. The base and back seat faces zip off easily and can be machine washed at 30 degrees, freshening up the cabin. You can change them when it comes time to sell, too.