Good: cool looks, spacious cabin.
Not so good: no real off-road ability, interior finish.
The SUV crossover market owes a lot of its success to the practicality that has been engineered into the various vehicles, but also to the fact that the image of a small SUV sits so well with many people these days. Taking these two properties into account, Renault should be due a generous slice of the market with its new Captur.
With styling that sits on the more extrovert side of the segment, Renault's contender is clearly aimed at a younger buyer - something that is made all the more obvious by this test car's bright orange bodywork and contrasting white roof. The Captur's look is similar to that of the new Clio, which is no bad thing. Even in a more modest single colour, the Captur still exudes fun and modernity.
The Captur's crossover DNA means that for most it is just the right height to step into rather than up into, and although it offers good visibility of the road ahead don't expect to be able to peer over other road-users' roofs. For the majority of potential Captur buyers, ground clearance won't be high on the agenda but should the mood take you, it does have adequate ride height to cope with some light off-roading. Ensuring that ground is firm underneath is also recommended as Renault only offers front-wheel drive on the Captur.
On the inside, the Captur isn't quite as striking. Higher trim levels do get the tablet-like display for the centre console, similar to that seen on the new Clio, but aside from that much of the cabin still retains that all-too-familiar Renault trait of using vast swathes of hard plastic although in this instance is better than past models. One practical feature is the car's seat covers that can be unzipped easily and removed either for cleaning or if you wanted to change them for a different colour or fabric finish.
Driving the Captur around town allows the small petrol engine to prove its worth as it demonstrates that this sort of unit can still hold some relevance. Those looking to stretch the distance between fill-ups will still need to drive rather frugally in order to get the most from it. Out of town the Renault does suffer from a degree of body roll when cornering at higher speeds, but generally it feels composed on the road. The higher driving position is a plus although the Renault doesn't exactly tower above other vehicles on the road.
Where the Renault exceeds the most is in its practical nature. Lots of storage solutions throughout the cabin combine with a generous 724-litre boot; this can grow to 1,388 litres should you not require use of the rear seats. The lack of a four-wheel drive version will put few off and although most will assume the diesel engine is the only one to go for, ignoring this petrol engine is not advised.