Higher-quality feel than the old Captur. Actually rather handsome, and plenty roomy enough
Hard to stand out in a crowded class. PHEV's additional cost is hard to justify
What is it?
It’s the second coming of the Renault Captur, a car that we probably snored at before we drove it, reasoning that a taller SUV-ish Clio was a silly idea no-one would much care for. Whoops. It promptly landed Renault a smash hit, becoming the top-selling ‘B-segment’ supermini crossover in Europe and the third most popular in the UK. Yep, we might pigeonhole newcomers in this class as ‘Juke rivals’ but Renault’s Captur is one of the big fish in this pond, and in true style outsold its Nissan rival in 2020.
Not that there wasn’t plenty of room for improvement in the old Captur, which had a bobbly ride and tinny cabin. What bodes well for this Captur Mk2 is that it’s based – inside and underneath – on the latest Clio. And that means a new platform, more space, more strength and safety, and a comprehensively up-to-date cabin.
I guess it gets Clio engines, then.
Absolutely. You’ve a range of conventional turbocharged three- and four-cylinder petrol engines, or a pair of hybrids which pair a nat-asp 1.6-litre engine with electric motors for up to 160bhp, with regular and plug-in versions available, both wearing ‘E-Tech’ badges. Yep, diesel is dead here too.
Renault says that the hybrid system is inspired by the energy use and recovery systems found in its Formula One engines, and it’s particularly addictive putting it in B mode via the gearbox selector, which ups the level of regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle, giving the full plug-in hybrid the option of one pedal driving just like a full EV. Clever.
What else should I get excited about?
Check out the new seats which look suspiciously like they’re from a recent Volvo. No higher praise than that, really. In fact, the whole cabin is the headline here. It’s way nicer inside than the old one. Sure, that’s like saying a hotel room is smarter than a windswept tent, but still, the Captur isn’t just a whole load more handsome on the outside – it’s grown up and gotten its act together inside, and that’s most welcome. Roomier too – but that’s courtesy of the whole car swelling in every dimension.
There’s plenty of other exterior changes too, with a wider front grille, tough-looking front and rear protection skid plates, prominent wheel arch extensions, slimmer LED lights at both ends, and touches of chrome trim bringing it in line with its Clio and Mégane siblings, with little of the stylistic quirkiness that some of its rivals suffer… no names mentioned. There’s also little to tell the electrified version apart, beyond a subtle badge here and there.
Prices start at just over £20,000 for the lowest powered petrol engine, rising to just shy of £33,000 for the PHEV in faux-sporty R.S. Line trim.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
That the Captur is a night and day improvement over what it replaces in looks, refinement and cabin quality is not up for debate, backed up by the fact it's the firm's best-selling car in Britain. Renault’s pulled off exactly what it needed to with the Captur Mk2. It’s hardly interesting to drive, but then again barely any crossovers are, and that’s not their purpose, either. It’s a fitting contender for the fastest growing car sales segment in the UK.
The looks and the road manners are the standouts. The spec list is strong and it’s roomy enough to justify its existence next to the Clio. It won’t be the most interesting car you read about today, but it’s good enough.
The hybrids offer an interesting option, and up against the likes of the Kia Niro in the (currently) limited plug-in compact crossover segment neither is a bad choice, if that’s what you’re after. The Captur may be more convincing yet when it's able to go fully electric, though - or when Renault launches a different weeny crossover with battery power alone.