Renault Captur: Breezy Lifestyle Option with 1.2 Turbo Power

By Lee Pang Seng

TAPPING on the Crossover or SUV (sport utility vehicle) trend sweeping the market appeared to have paid dividends for Renault franchise holder TC Euro Cars. The company is already into its second batch of imported Captur (pronounced as Capture) as this compact Crossover has found favour with a growing pool of prospective Renault customers.

With few rivals vying for a share of the pie in this segment (the Toyota Rush and Ford EcoSport are two that we can think of), the Renault Captur could carve out its own niche with what it has to offer. After all, the Captur is the only 1.2-litre Crossover in the market and lest you think it’s a pushover in performance, the turbocharged engine packs quite a mean punch.

That alone stands it fully apart from the others as the rivals come mainly with normally aspirated power, albeit with bigger displacement engines. On the other hand, the Captur can also lay claim to impressive fuel mileage as well what with its ECO mode that can be selected as an option.

And of course, the Captur is a good-looker with a distinct body profile that stands the French Crossover out on its own. It is as aerodynamically efficient as it looks and it comes with a choice of body colours that help further in giving the Captur an individual stance that lifts it above the crowd.

That was the impression we got during our three days of driving the Captur. It was a world of difference to the time when we had the Clio GT Line during which we had perhaps only a passing glance or two. The bright orange hue of the Captur complements its lifestyle profile and that probably caught the eyes of many who looked our way.

The Captur is in many ways a refreshing change from what we are used to, in particular in the features it comes with and the way Renault has placed some of the controls. For starters, the Captur is endowed with removable fabric seat covers. When we saw the zips on the covers, our initial thought was that it was a local gimmick. But it wasn’t. Renault actually provides this item and that explains why it has a quality feel to it.

TC Euro Cars has made available three colour options although Renault has a much wider range. It seems practical as these covers can be removed to be washed, re-invigorating the interior with a fresh and perhaps fragrant ambience each time. We learnt that this novelty is well received and it wouldn’t be surprising if the colour options would be expanded in the near future, perhaps with local input.

For the Captur that we had over a few days, the orange seat covers were the perfect match for the Arizona Orange body colour; the roof, by the way, is in Diamond Black to give this Crossover a nice visual contrast that befits its outgoing character. There are orange stripes on the rear of the front seat covers, adding nicely to the overall zest of the interior.

The flat card-like key is another change from the usual and it could be placed in a special slot on the central console while you are driving. It serves the normal keyless function where we could lock and unlock all the doors via a button on the door handle, as long as we have the card key on us. Alternatively we could use the card key as a remote by pressing the respective ‘buttons’; they are more like little mounds on the card key with the respective icons.

While the Capture doesn’t come with the auto lock function that is activated when it is driven away, we could use the central lock button, that is, if you can find it. No, it is not on the door ledge but on the centre area of the dashboard, next to the hazard warning button. It is determined by the ‘lock’ icon that we were to discover later in the drive session.

If you want to deactivate the airbag for the front passenger for some reason or other, the control might be a little bit more difficult to find. It is on the side of the dashboard on the driver’s side and it can only be accessed when you open the door. Just remember to activate the item for the benefit of your front passenger.

Its equipment level is good too; reverse camera with distance colour guide, adjustment for headlamp beam level, electric folding door mirrors, one-touch window opening and closing for the driver side, touch screen on the centre monitor for the respective functions, to name a few.

We also like the less conventionally designed black diamond finish alloy wheels as they enhance the lifestyle image with its rather breezy pattern. Fitted on them were Continental ContiEcoContact 205/55 R17 tyres. The Captur comes with slightly higher profile tyres than the Clio being 55-series rather than 45-series (205/45 R17); by the way, the Clio came with Michelin tyres.

Like a good Crossover, the interior has that flexible arrangement with the 60:40 split rear seat rests that could be easily folded away to provide a flat floor. The luggage area can be extended in depth by removing the top layer, which again is easily done, or you can use the lower compartment as a hidden storage area.

Power-wise, it shares the same TCe 120 EDC engine with the Clio GT Line that we had a weekend with recently. This is the slightly undersquare 1197cc turbocharged engine (72.2mm bore and 73.1mm stroke) with direct multipoint sequential injection that delivers 88kW (120PS) at 4900rpm and 190Nm at a low 2000rpm.

Likewise, the transmission is also the same being the efficient dual clutch (EDC) six-speed automatic transmission with sport sequential shift. There is also the ECO mode that has the transmission upshifting earlier so that the engine runs at an easier pace, saving petrol in the process.

In performance, the Captur was expected to be slightly slower being the heavier vehicle at 1180kg, or almost 80kg heavier than the Clio GT Line (1104kg). The difference in weight is slightly heavier than the average Malaysian and this was noted more during standing acceleration and when moving along at crawl speeds in the city at peak hours.

A combination of the electronic dual clutch transmission operation and the initial turbo lag led to a longer pause before the Captur got going. It was during times like these that we sometimes wished we were driving a vehicle with normally aspirated fuel feed. But when the engine was on song, despite its low 1.2-litre displacement, and the going was a lot quicker that we appreciated the power of the turbo, even though it was a low boost system.

It ran as quietly as the Clio GT Line and the taller profile remained reasonably wind cheating in the aerodynamically sculpted body lines to reduce wind turbulence (and noise) on highway cruises. Engine noise intrusion during the times we stretched it to 5000rpm and above was also well subdued with decent firewall insulation.

The reason we pushed the engine was when we were checking out the Captur’s dynamic stability through our favourite winding roads; we slotted the floor gearshift to the right and selected the gears sequentially, using mainly second and third. The understeer from the front-wheel drive platform was within expectations and the taller Crossover didn’t lean too much either.

We could push it through the bends at reasonably good speeds but we need the engine to rev higher to tap the power although the torque delivery came in much earlier. We were more confident taking the Captur through the ‘esses’ with engine power rather than the torque to carry the speeds that we were doing.

Another likeable experience was the ride; the suspension set-up is similar. Although the Captur is a bigger vehicle, it shares the same platform as the Clio. This sees a MacPherson strut front with rectangular lower arms and anti-roll bar and the rear has a flexible axle with programmed deflection and spiral springs.

It is tuned to operate with the heavier vehicle and the ride stays well damped over bumpy surfaces, may be a little firmer than expected. This could be due to the tyre pressure, which we didn’t check so that is a grey area to be considered. Generally, we enjoyed the ride as much as had in the Clio.

What we liked more is the higher ride height as we are partial to SUVs and MPVs, which are usually taller vehicles than cars. That means less bending to get in and out. There is also the higher view when driving, albeit not as high in the Captur as in other SUVs or Crossovers, but it was appreciated all the same.

For the money, we would go for the Captur than the Clio simply based on our general preference. And with the recent reduction in price to RM117,200 (on the road with GST but no insurance), the Captur is certainly a more attractive Renault with its trendy and outgoing lifestyle image.

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