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  1. Some schools of thought say that looks are irrelevant; that character and depth of ability trump the hollowness of face value and vacant beauty.

    On some spiritual level, we are inclined to agree. After all, the colossal expanse that is the universe would suggest smiling at a pretty face is an utterly pointless endeavour.

    Words: Vijay Pattni
    Photos: Stuart Collins

  2. Immediate response: On this rationale, we must conclude that the Renault Captur is rubbish.

  3. It’s unbearably noisy, uncomfortable to sit in, difficult to see out of and rather slow. The ride is also unfeasibly hard, making it about as supple as a medieval colonoscopy procedure, and the driving position warrants the removal of one’s head (the roof is set low and the chair is not height adjustable).

  4. So with our hippy-inspired ‘it’s-what’s-on-the-inside-that-counts’ hat on, the Captur doesn’t set road tester touch-points on fire. But here’s the thing: how it drives is inconsequential. The Captur is all about the looks.

  5. The striking one-off show car that premiered at the Geneva motor show is the brainchild of Axel Breun, head of concept car design at Renault. It heralds the next step in a design strategy that aims to rebuild the company’s identity; an identity seemingly in need of a BBC Three makeover-special. As Axel, with a consigned look on his face, told us: “We lost the coherence of the frontal design of Renaults.”

  6. This is important. Renault’s desire to carve out a new, sensuous and attractive range of faces was first seen on the beautiful DeZir supercar. The Captur picks up this baton in an intriguing set of concepts based on the relationship and life cycle of buyers.

  7. So where the DeZir represented the initial stage of attraction, the Captur is the car for ‘two people exploring the world around them’. Later, there will be a concept designed around the family (the yellow R-Space with a 900cc turbo’d three-pot), then one to illustrate work, one for leisure and finally, a concept designed to celebrate wisdom. And their identity will be distinctly Renault.

  8. “We wanted to move Renault more upmarket,” explains Axel, “to make it more sensual and as beautiful as possible, but each with their own unique identity”, referring to a certain Ingolstadt-based carmaker’s Russian-doll approach to design.

  9. “Our main brief for exterior design was to establish this new front end, but we didn’t want to go down the route that Audi has gone down.” And he admits that his design team found it difficult to break away from Renault’s ‘architectural’ design to a more free-flowing sculpture.

  10. In doing so, they called upon a range of influences starting with the ‘image of a sprinter on the starting blocks’, tensed muscles, protective equipment used in radical sports and an interior based on the human body and urban styling: suspended ropes form the backs and bases of seats, while the door casings and dashboard act like a ‘second skin’. Believe us, the pictures don’t do it justice. In a good way.

  11. Which bodes well, because this will eventually see production at some point in the not-too-distant future. “There’s a huge market for it in Europe,” Axel quips, jumping to attention. “Just look at the Evoque.” A huge appetite coupled with a desire for downsized engines, something the Captur will help showcase in the form of a new engine.

  12. The Captur debuts a not-yet-ready version of the 1.6-litre dCi twin-turbo that will replace the 1.9 dCi. It pumps out 160bhp and, together with the EDC gearbox, emits just 99g/km of CO2, keeping with Renault’s aim of big-car power and small emissions.

  13. But what about big-car power…full stop? After all, Axel’s previous life was spent working at Renaultsport, helping deliver many of the Top Gear-approved RS models you see on sale today. Could we ever see a Renaultsport Captur?

  14. The mere mention of this lights up Axel’s face, providing plenty encouragement that you can take the boy out of RS…

    “Why not?” he chirrups. “It would be a completely new field for RS but we could do one, potentially. Let’s get the standard one sorted first and then, who knows.”

  15. This standard one is very important not just because of its concept status or new engine or radical interior. It, along with the DeZir and the R-Space concept, preview the face of the next generation Renault Clio, coming your way in 2012.

    “When I look at these three concepts - DeZir, Captur and R-Space - I can see new Clio,” Axel remarks. Watch this space.

  16. Renault R-Space

  17. Renault R-Space

  18. Renault R-Space

  19. Renault R-Space

  20. Renault R-Space

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