SUVs have been the rage for almost half a decade now. It started with the Renault Duster, followed by the Ford Ecosport, and capitalized by the Hyundai Creta. Sales have gone up by 5 times since the launch of the Renault Duster. Also, despite the recent facelift, Duster sales have not been at it’s past best. Hence Renault felt that in such a big market there could be space for yet another SUV. They are therefore all set to launch a more upmarket SUV/Crossover very soon. Renault Captur is what it is called, and according to the words of the CEO and MD Renault, it is set to be a game changer in the premium SUV segment. We drove it in Goa to find out whether it can really build up on the success of the Duster. Here’s the review.
The Renault Captur that will be sold in India is the same version that is sold in Russia and Korea (as the Samsung QM3). This version is different from the one sold in Europe. The European one is based on the Clio platform, while the car we drove is based on the MO platform that also underpins the Duster. Yes, it is an aging platform, but has proven itself as being tough with the Duster. Also, if you remember, the Duster platform recently underwent a slight update at the time of the launch of the Duster AWD. So, it’s a proven platform and one that isn’t going to get phased out anytime soon. Also, the Renault Captur sold in India is longer than the one sold in Europe. Now that we have got the facts out of the way, let’s tell you some of the other bits about the new Renault Captur.
Starting with the looks. The car looks stunning upfront. The oversized lozenge logo, piano black grille with it’s thin chrome strip, LED foglamps and the stylish C shaped insert around the LED fog lamps make it looks very premium. The LED headlights also get floating turn indicators, which are similar to the dynamic turn indicators that Audi offers in its cars. They swipe outwards,depending on the side you are taking the turn. This feature will be standard across the range of the Renault Captur. The sides have a crossover look rather than a traditional SUV box shape. Coupled with the large 17-inch wheels, the side profile again manages to pull at your heartstrings. The rear design though, is a bit controversial. You cannot help but think that the Captur takes inspiration from the little Kwid. That’s no bad thing, as it still looks butch, but Renault could have done better in this area. For some it will look like a XXL Kwid from the rear, as even the taillamp cluster and the rear windshield has resemblance to the tiny hatchback. The LED detailing in the taillamp though, looks classy. Overall, the design of the Renault Captur is sure to catch attention of passerby’s, at the same time having a hint of that butch appearance that we loved in the Duster and Kwid.
You won’t be as impressed when you step inside this interior though. Yes, there are a few nice bits, like the semi digital instrument cluster and the funky-looking HVAC controls, but this cabin doesn’t really feel rich enough. The version we drove was the top end Platine trim. This trim isn’t just the range topping variant in India, but is also the highest trim level across the world on the Captur. So, you do get things like the quilted white leatherette seats, golden trim on the centre console and a white lower section of the dashboard. But what’s lacking, is the quality of the plastic. This is not the quality levels you expect in a car that will cost you nearly Rs.15 lakhs before taxes. You do get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, but you miss out vital features like Android Auto, Apple Car Play and MirrorLink. This is a big miss, as these days even cars like the Hyundai Grand i10 comes with these features.
And then, there’s the lack of space in the cabin. Upfront, even at the lowest seat height setting you are seated quite high up. Although for a person like me who is 5ft 11in, it offers a great view of the road ahead, anyone taller that 6ft, ought to have trouble, as the low roofline eats up into headroom. The rear has decent legroom and you get rear AC vents, but the cabin just isn’t wide enough to accommodate 3 abreast. This is surprising, as the car it is based upon (the Duster) is known for it’s spacious cabin and seat comfort. Boot space is again just decent at 390 litres and will suffice for a weekend road trip.
Speaking of road trips, power is what you want, when you want to have some fun…and at such times, the Captur delivers, at least the diesel variant does. It will be available with 2 engines – 1.5-litre K9K diesel and a 1.5-litre H4K petrol motor. The diesel develops 108 HP, while the petrol makes 104 HP. We drove the diesel on our short test drive. For starters, the engine feels a whole lot smoother than the one we find under the hood of the Duster, and it’s the same damn engine! Even while revving it hard, you find it does not get as coarse or loud as you must have experienced on the Duster. There is definitely better engine calibration and cabin insulation doing it’s work here. Clutch action again is smoother than the Duster, but still feels a tad heavy. Power delivery though, is whole lot more linear and the surge of the turbo is a bit predictable. Yes, you do have to wait for the power to kick in, but this time around it’s much better to tame those twisting forces. The 6-speed manual gearbox still feels notchy and could have been better.
The suspension offers amazing high-speed stability. At lower speeds too. The Renault Captur offers a pliant ride, but sharp potholes and horizontal ridges send a rather scarily loud thud into the cabin. The ride feels stiff from the rear seat, thanks to the comparatively low profile tyres on the 17-inch wheels. Steering feels heavy, but offers great feedback at high speeds. Brakes also offer superb feel and you can confidently throw this car around corners. You can have fun driving the Renault Captur at the cost of your rear passengers suffering from a stiff ride. And trust us, that’s a compliment. The SUV comes with 2 airbags, ABS and ISOFIX seat mounts as standard.
Renault has also thrown in a whole load of customization options on the new Captur. The roof can be customized according to your choice of wrap, or just select from one of the many customization packs that the company will offer you at the dealer end. The interiors too can be customized, and can be had with ambient mood lighting as well. If personalization is your poison, then Renault has it sorted for you with the Captur.
To sum up the Renault Captur, the crossover has a lot riding on it’s pricing strategy. In the product presentation given to us by the MD Renault India, most of the features that you see externally (in above pictures) will be available across the range (things like LED headlights with floating indicators and alloy wheels). This will make it good value for money, no doubt. Expect prices to start at a Rs.1 lakh premium over the Duster SUV. The top Platine variant is expected to cost a wee under Rs.15 lakhs. This will make it great value for money, thanks to the high levels of localization of the Duster platform. The stunning exterior design again will be huge draw for customers walking into showrooms. But those expecting a spacious cabin will be disappointed. Cabin quality too, is nothing to write home about. This car is for young urbanistas with a healthy pay package, who wouldn’t really mind trading practicality for style. But again, it all boils down to the pricing that will be revealed next month. Stay tuned!
Photography by Ritesh Madhok