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The Top Gear car review:Renault Captur
For:Looks, multiple options, refinement, economy. Better interior quality now, too
Against:Could be more practical, not the sportiest to drive
What is it?
The Captur kick-started Renault’s range of popular SUVs and crossovers in 2013, and it has lived up to its name and gone on to capture a sizeable chunk of the market. It’s also Renault’s most popular car in the UK, outselling the Clio and the Megane.
In 2016 it was the best-selling model in its segment in Europe, so you could forgive the French company for not wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water with the mid-life refresh. The styling tweaks bring the Captur into line with the rest of its SUV range, thanks to sharper looking lights and more rugged bumpers with faux-metal skid plates front and rear.
Minor updates they may be, but finally they give the Captur its own SUV-like personality, rather than looking like a taller, bloated Clio. Among the changes is a new front grille that wears some extra chrome to direct your gaze toward the oversize Renault badge at its centre. Complementing that, the lower corners of the front bumper get new C-shaped LED daytime running lights across the line-up, while higher grade models also benefit from full-LED headlights.
Punters clearly like the level of personalisation available for the Captur, such as its two-tone colour scheme, so Renault has added more options. There are three new body colours, plus the option of a silver roof, bringing the total number of potential combinations to 36. Eat your heart out, Mini.
Dimensionally, the Captur is unchanged, and barely bigger than a Clio with its 4,122mm length and 1,778mm width, ensuring that it retains its manoeuvrable size with acceptable interior space for the segment. Inside, the main change to the cabin is a smattering of new materials, giving the Captur a more modern appearance. It’s still far from plush, though.
Buyers can choose from two petrol and two diesel engines, with either automatic or manual transmissions. All models in the Captur range are front-wheel drive, despite the more rugged looks.
The 0.9-litre TCe petrol engine, which is steadily becoming the most popular choice, makes for a sensible buy if you’re only doing the school run or driving around town. Despite its small size, this three-cylinder, 89bhp engine is smooth and feels faster than the 13.2-second 0-62mph time suggests it will.
If you disagree, or you carry a couple of people around regularly, you can upgrade to the 118bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, which is available with either manual or automatic gearboxes. Officially, the transmission makes no difference to fuel economy, but the manual is just under a second faster to 62mph at 9.9 seconds. If you’d rather have a diesel, there is the familiar 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder option, offered in 89bhp and 108bhp guises.
While the Captur has stayed competitive up until its facelift, it’s about to fight a war on several fronts. New small crossovers from Hyundai, Seat, Citroen and Kia are all imminent in 2017. They all promise lots of spec and personalisation options, frugal engines and similar prices. The Captur’s good, but not exceptional, and may soon struggle to stand out against a European and Korean onslaught…