The popular compact crossover segment in South Africa is fiercely contested, with no less than 14 competitors vying for the buying public’s attention. The Renault Captur has been a strong contender since its launch in 2015 and a refreshed and revised model has just been revealed. We attended the launch in Gauteng.
The big news is the introduction of the “Blaze” trim level; an entry level variant which undercuts the outgoing entry level variant by R20 000. The Blaze also introduces a new infotainment system to the line-up, in the form of Renault’s R&Go. While more expensive Captur’s retain the MediaNav touchscreen infotainment system found in the Duster, Clio and Kwid, the new system features sophisticated smartphone integration.
New gearbox, same engines
The Captur range will still be powered by a trio of engines, however the 1.2-litre 88 kW turbo petrol motor is now offered with a 6-spd manual transmission, in addition to the 6-spd automatic EDC ‘box. Buyers can also choose from a 0.9-litre, 3-cylinder 66 kW turbo petrol motor, offered exclusively with a 5-spd manual, or the 1.5dCi turbo diesel motor, which is also offered exclusively with a 5-spd manual.
1.2 turbo now features a manual gearbox option
What’s it like to drive?
On launch, we drove the petrol-powered 88 kW 1.2-litre manual and 1.5 dCi manual. The petrol-powered Captur, with power and torque figures of 88 kW and 190 Nm, offers impressive ride quality, with very little noise and vibrations making their way into the cabin - in fact, it’s often hard to tell if the engine is actually on without glancing at the rev needle. On the highways around Gauteng, the little crossover acted as a comfortable cruiser with the tall sixth gear bringing the engine rpm down and improving fuel consumption. However overtaking manoeuvres require some down changing; acceleration from 0-60 kph is fairly brisk but the motor does require some encouraging from 80 - 120 kph.
The diesel, in our limited experience, is a much better all-rounder. The extra 30 Nm of torque seems to be more usable more of the time - curious for a diesel motor. Even though the diesel is only offered with a 5-spd manual, it remains a capable cruiser while being nippy off the line. But its strong suit is undoubtedly the fuel consumption. While Renault claims a rather incredible average figure of 3.6 L/100 km, we achieved 4.7 L/100 km during our roughly 40 km drive on mostly flowing country roads. And it did feel as though with some careful driving in Eco mode, that figure could quite easily hover around the 4.0 mark.
What’s it like to drive on gravel?
Credit to Renault SA, they included a 15 km stretch of gravel on the test route, a stretch which was not in the best condition. While crossover manufacturers often boast of their product’s increased ride height, it is very rare that we’re offered the opportunity to put that useful feature to the test.
Ride quality of the Captur has improved as has the cabin NVH levels.
The Captur coped admirably on the rough surface, dealing with the ruts and bumps and letting very little harshness through into the cabin, and there were no squeaks or rattles to speak of. This is certainly helped by the Captur’s relatively high-sidewall tyres; while the high spec models are fitted as standard with 17 inch alloy wheels, the 205/55 profile Michelin Primacy tyres still provide some cushioning from the harsh conditions. While the Captur is certainly not the car for covering hundreds of gravel kilometres, it is reassuring to know that it can easily cope with the odd adventure off the tarmac. Bear in mind that the Captur is only offered with front wheel drive.
Renault tells us that the fit and finish of the interior has been refined and upgraded. There is a new soft-touch material on the dashboard and door-lining which does look and feel more upmarket. Satin chrome accents on the dash are subtle but effective and there’s a new, smaller steering wheel which you’d be hard-pressed to tell apart from the one it replaces. The gearlever from the larger Megane hatchback has been thrown into the mix and there’s an optional fixed glass sunroof, which integrates neatly with the diamond black roof colour.
Removable seat covers allow them to be washed in a washing machine. This is the Blaze with its 'light' infotainment system.
New seat designs with a choice of three covers round off the changes to the cabin. Those seat covers are removable - a clever concept that allows you to unzip the seat covers and wash them at home in a standard washing machine - there’s also the option of heated seats. While the seats are comfy, they are a little compact and if you’re the sort of person who could confidently tackle a Springbok forward, you’ll probably find them a little tight. They are height adjustable though if you’re more of a champion jockey.
The new infotainment system
Renault’s entry level infotainment system, offered in the Blaze trim level, actually seems anything but entry level. The system features a standard radio/CD player with Bluetooth functionality but just below the radio’s display is an adjustable smartphone cradle. By plugging in your iPhone or Android smartphone, and installing the free R&Go app, your smartphone essentially becomes the car’s custom infotainment system. You can choose up to six homescreen shortcuts, from your favourite music service to your favourite maps app. The car will even send fuel consumption figures and your eco-score (a measure of your efficient or not-so efficient driving) to the app.
The full infotainment system includes navigation but doesn't have the app suite that the Blaze model has.
One of the smartest features is Find My Renault. When you unplug the phone and leave the car, the app automatically drops a GPS pin, marking the car’s location. You can then use your phone to locate your car and be guided to it. Useful for those big sporting events where you’re forced to park and walk in from the next province.
All other variants of the Captur feature Renault’s tried and tested MediaNav touchscreen system. With a 7-inch colour touchscreen, SatNav and Bluetooth telephony/music playback, it is a comprehensive system. But this tester couldn’t help but feel that with the pace of smartphone and app development, and the added bonus of live-traffic monitoring and information provided by apps such as Waze and Google Maps, that perhaps the more expensive infotainment system will prove less of a useful driving companion than the “basic” R&Go system.
The Captur features a few nifty features to make the most of the car’s compact proportions. The boot is split in two by a false floor and totals 377-litres, which compares favourably to rivals such as the Toyota C-HR, with 328-litres and the Ford Ecosport with 362-litres, but falls a bit short of the Hyundai Creta, which offers 402-litres.
Two tier boot opens up 377-litres of boot space. The rear seats can slide forward increasing it to 455-litres.
A particularly useful feature which is rarely found is that the back bench of seats is mounted on rails, and can slide forward by as much as 16 cm, opening up the boot space to 455-litres. A handle is located in the boot area to facilitate this. The back bench also folds flat in 60/40 split, all of which combines to make the interior space very useful and usable.
Hill start assist is featured as standard on all manual variants, and all trim levels feature an electronic stability control programme (ESP), a critical safety system which is not found as standard on some rivals. Four airbags, ABS, EBD and Isofix child seat mounts are also standard. The Captur carries a 5 star EuroNCAP safety rating.
Pricing and trim levels
While most prices have increased marginally across the range, as mentioned, the new entry level variant is R20 000 cheaper than the model it replaces.
The 66 kW Turbo Expression model becomes the 66 kW Turbo Blaze, with a new price of R229 900. All other models see an increase of R5 000 over the outgoing range, with the top of the range 88 kW Turbo Dynamique EDC priced at R309 900.
All Capturs are sold with a 5-year/150 000km warranty and 3-year/45 000km service plan.