Renault's Juke-rivalling Captur has arrived in the UK – but can it replicate the success of its Nissan stablemate, of which 30,000 were sold here in 2012?
Press the start button and our model’s Renault-Nissan 1.5-litre diesel fires up noisily. Set off and you’ll find the gearbox is accurate, while the light steering and pedal action fulfil the car’s brief as an easy-to-drive urban crossover.
The ride doesn’t feel as sorted, though, as it’s a little fidgety and firm. While it’s not uncomfortable, it seems worse than it really is because the suspension and wheels transmit a fair amount of noise into the cabin.
The engine is a bit too noisy, but with 0-62mph taking 12.3 seconds it feels reasonably punchy. It’s the same diesel as is used in the Juke’s range, albeit detuned from 108bhp to 89bhp – and the cut in power helps take fuel economy up from 67.3mpg in the Nissan to 76.4mpg here.
There’s quite a bit of body roll in fast corners, and not a lot of steering feel. Still, the steering is well weighted, and feels light around town with more resistance as you up the speed. The ride settles on a motorway and the vocal engine quietens as well, making for a comfortable cruiser.
The Captur is based on the same platform as the new Clio, rather than the Juke, and thus can’t be had with four-wheel drive; Renault decided to trade all-weather grip for extra space. As a result there’s no bulge where the transmission tunnel should be, which means three adults fit across the back with ease. The 377-litre boot is 126 litres larger than the Juke’s, and with clever touches such as removable seat covers and large door pockets, the Captur is by far the more practical family choice.
The bungee cords behind the front seats could tempt kids into endless twanging, though, and some of the plastics feel a little brittle, such as the door panels and those on the central tunnel.
A svelte exterior design improves on that of the latest Clio. It looks dynamic, thanks to the long front overhang and short tail, while the body-coloured sill visually pinches in the side. We’re not quite sure about the optional graphics, but it’s nice to be able to put your own stamp on the Captur.