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New Renault Captur 2017 facelift review

Does a mid-life refresh keep the Renault Captur small crossover in the game?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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The revisions to the Captur range aren’t extensive, but the boost in quality is welcome and the extra kit desirable. The exterior updates also bolster what was already an appealing crossover; it’s just a pity that Renault didn’t polish the driving experience. Our top-spec car doesn’t look great value, either, and with the sector getting even more cut-throat, the Captur is falling behind.

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The small crossover market is pretty saturated already, but over the next 12 months buyers will have even more choice. We’ve got a pair of rhyming newcomers in the form of SEAT’s Arona and the Hyundai Kona – both due this year – plus the second- generation Nissan Juke arrives in 2018. But they’ll all have the Renault Captur as the car to beat; it was the best-selling model in this class in Europe last year.

To ensure it keeps pace with new rivals, and to bring it up to date with the glut of updated Renaults that have also debuted recently, the Captur has been given a series of mid-life nips and tucks. Minor though they are, the visual changes bestow the car with a fresh new look inside and out.

• Best crossovers on sale right now

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Reprofiled headlights can now be chosen as full LED units for the first time, while there are new C-shaped LED daytime running lights, too, which now echo the Megane’s units but sit lower in the bumper. Additional chrome grille trim, an enlarged lower intake, new skid plates and tweaked tail-lights are added, along with a couple of additional colour choices for the body and roof to spruce things up further.

Inside, a new two-tone dash and door facias add a splash of flair. We’d recommend going for lighter shades, as the Captur’s cabin can be quite dark and drab in black or grey. A new panoramic roof option helps make things light and airy, though, while as before there’s a vast array of colour personalisation packs allowing owners to customise trim parts according to taste.

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Improved soft-touch materials up the perceived quality level a fair bit, too. The car now sits at the level we’d expect for a sub-£20k small crossover, but climb up the range and it’s more difficult to excuse items such as the wobbly centre armrest and flimsy handbrake surround, especially on this £23,000 model. We’d find versions priced closer to the range’s £15,355 starting point more appealing.

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Equipment updates are rolled out across the range, with Euro-spec Initiale Paris (broadly similar to the new UK-spec Signature S Nav) packed to the rafters with kit including a new self-parking function, Bose sound system and Renault’s R-Link infotainment set-up, which now features DAB radio and Android Auto compatibility – although Apple CarPlay isn’t yet available. It’s nearly as feature packed as the portrait touchscreen system found in larger Renaults, yet it isn’t as slick or as quick to operate as the best units in rivals.

The Captur’s cabin is similar to that in the Clio with which it shares its platform, but as before there’s a number of useful additions that boost practicality. A sliding rear bench allows owners to quickly prioritise boot space or legroom, and there’s plenty of stowage, including a pop-up cubby on top of the dash. European cars also borrow the filing cabinet-style sliding glovebox from the new Scenic, but unfortunately Renault couldn’t make space for it in right-hand-drive cars.

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As with the updated Clio, the brand is clearly confident enough in the Captur’s mechanicals, so nothing has been altered with the suspension or under the bonnet.

We drove the 1.5-litre dCi 110, a car that’s narrowly predicted to be the best seller over the turbo petrol engines. As before, it clatters a little compared with the more refined 1.6 diesel offered in other Renaults, but performance is decent enough and it settles down once you’re out of town. The economy figures remain unchanged, too, pipping the identically engined Nissan Juke 1.5 dCi by one or two miles per gallon. But the 0.9 petrol is still the sweet spot in the range.

In ride and handling terms, the Captur remains adequate rather than engaging. The damping controls small intrusions well enough, but larger bumps and potholes thump and clatter through the cabin more than in a Peugeot 2008. Wind noise starts to intrude as speed increases, too. Body control is respectable and the steering is reasonably direct, yet there’s a lack of feel and the gearchange is imprecise.

While none of these small crossovers are especially involving cars to drive, the Captur doesn’t really excel in any area on the road. This is unlikely to hinder it in the sales charts, but with a host of new crossovers around the corner, it may find itself in a tough crowd.

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