While the amount of success observed by its models are mixed, the French carmaker now wishes to create a stronger impression in the mid-size SUV/crossover section. But let us face it, the competition this is fairly tough.The Hyundai Creta has more or less been the epitome of maximum bang-for-the-buck when it comes to attributes, while the recently arrived Jeep Compass has stirred up the marketplace with its true-blue SUV credentials. The car that Renault thinks has exactly what it takes to challenge both is your Captur.
This is where a bit of confusion begins, however. No, this is not the exact same Captur that is sold in Europe. This one is built on the Clio stage, also due to its Euro-spec bells and whistles, would have cost a bomb to bring here. The Captur we are getting is one that is specifically created for emerging markets, built on the business’s M0 platform that has proven its mettle in the Duster.

In the outside, it’s nearly impossible to tell that the Captur is based on the Duster platform. Big wheel arches across the wonderfully designed ‘crystal cut’ 17-inch wheels sporting 215/60 rubber along with the massive 210mm floor clearance give it the unmistakable proportions of an SUV. To add to this, the Captur’s brief bonnet is muscle, drooping down in the front into a tasteful headlight audience, and culminating in a chunky bumper with ‘C’-shaped units that home LED daytime running lamps (DRL) and fog lamps.

Speaking about LEDs, there are tons of them round the car. Aside from the aforementioned DRLs and fog lamp combo, the tail-lights, in addition to the headlights, will also be full LED. There is LED ambient lighting on the inside also, but more on this later. In general, it’s a really refreshing design unlike anything else found in this section before. However, in spite of this Captur being a looker, Renault is offering a complete multitude of customisation options in the kind of garnishes like chromed trim components, many roof graphics and even two preset topics for people could have a difficult time choosing individual pieces.

What is it like inside?
Additionally, there are some wonderful design touches like the butterfly-shaped instrument cluster which gets a large digital speedometer in the middle, flanked by a tachometer and a gas gauge. And I actually like the ambient LED lighting and design of this air conditioner controllers. But, our biggest gripe is the kind of materials which were utilized for the dashboard and the total utilization of hard plastics to the interiors. They do not feel as upmarket as they need to for a car in this class, especially the roofing liner which feels like it’s from one complete section under.

Then there are a few slightly wonky design components, like the center armrest — it does not fold off and interferes with the operation of the handbrake lever. We really expect that all variants of this Captur offer hill- hold assist; trying to begin moving from a standstill in an incline will probably be quite tricky otherwise. Then you will find the front chairs. Just the driver’s seat will get height-adjust, which is fine. What isn’t fine, however, is that the simple fact that even the smallest setting on the chair is so high that it not only gives you a commanding view of the street but also of the entire top of this huge dashboard; this functions as a visual reminder of this basic quality of plastics which populate much of the cabin. And, if you are on the taller side, state over 6ft, then you’re going to be uncomfortably close to the roof. Another ‘fit’ issue with all the Captur can be seen in driver’s footwell. The pedals are well proportioned and put, but neglect a bicycle that is dead, there is almost no distance to the left of the clutch. This means the driver needs to maintain his left foot below the clutch pedal when cruising; not a simple transition to make if you’ve got large feet.

While the side-to-side visibility is fantastic, sitting so high up behind a raked windshield blows out a bit of the view of the skies. Now, this isn’t an issue when it comes to driving, but it will give you a better feeling of looking at the world via a narrow letterbox.

Front seats themselves are not too bad however. The two-tone white- and-black leatherette chairs look and feel great, and there is enough support to your back and under-thighs, in addition to sufficient bolstering on your own shoulders when tossing the car around corners. The design and similar contouring are observed on the back seats also. The rear cabin area also has its own pair of AC vents which ought to be helpful on warm days.

The top-spec Platine trim which people drove came with a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia program that offers several connectivity options like Bluetooth, USB and aux-in. It even has integrated maps and navigation. The interface in use here is your traditional Renault one found in the Kwid along with the Duster however this one appears to be running a crisper display resolution and readability in sunlight is a great deal easier today. Though it’s fairly responsive and quick, in the design and usability perspective, it’s not actually on par with all the best in the sport. In this day and age, we would have liked to watch Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offered, but whatever you get is basic iPod functionality through USB plus a few voice controls for iOS. One complaint we have with the design of this system is that the positioning of the USB interface; the cable dangles within the display when plugged in.

What is it like to drive?
Renault offers the tried-and-tested 1.5-litre H4K petrol mated to some five-speed manual along with also a 1.5-litre K9K diesel motor with a six-speed guide on the Captur in India for today. On our first drive, we have the diesel version and we’re quite impressed with it.

This 1.5 DCi motor has ever needed a bit of turbo lag and it’s the exact same story with all the Captur. Nevertheless, once spooled up, power delivery is invisibly along with also the motor pulls smooth and strong nearly all of the way up to 4,700-4,800rpm. Obviously, if it had delivered 20-30hp longer, it would have been absolutely ideal. Nonetheless, it’s not that the Captur feels underpowered in the speed. And combined with the car’s solid stability on wide open streets and fairly high speeds, it has all of the makings of a fantastic highway cruiser.

This pleasurable driving experience continues even on winding streets as the Captur is a really competent handler. The chunky steering is nicely weighted and it gives you a fantastic sense of what is going on with the front wheels. Though you really do get any understeer if you get too ham-fisted with all the steering, it keeps body roll well under control via twists and turns.

Ride quality is another place that the Captur does really well in. It’s appeared a bit stiffer than the Duster, also it isn’t lavish in precisely the exact same manner a few of its competitors are, even over broken streets it manages quite nicely. While occupants are not completely isolated from lumps, none of them are jarring, aside from the really sharp ones.

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Can I purchase one?
The Renault Captur is certainly quite an interesting proposition in this mid-size SUV area. And that really earns it some powerful brownie points against its competition. But when it comes to the driving experience, there is a good deal of similarity to another Renaults we have driven in India earlier, but it also manages to do a few things a bit better.

In a lot of ways, it’s like a dressed-up Duster — a Duster++ if you will — and that is not a bad thing in any respect, considering just how competent the Duster really is.

It also supports the security quotient by offering features like ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control (ESC), in addition to double and side airbags. Though Renault has not disclosed which trim variants will get which specific characteristics, they promise us that each of the models should get nearly all of these, and that is certainly a step in the right direction.

The Captur’s pricing has not been declared at this point and we hope that it will arrive in a top notch over the Hyundai Creta, but nicely under the Jeep Compass. The unique design and driving texture might be sufficient for a while to justify its estimated price, but of course, we would be very pleasantly surprised if Renault can go toe to toe in price against the Hyundai; which will certainly cause the Captur’s case much more powerful. For the time being, we can only wait and see and assure you that this amazing Renault is definitely worthy of at least your attention.

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