You can’t fault the thinking behind the modern Crossover, a class of car that aims to blend the versatility of a people carrying MPV, the attitude of a high-riding SUV and the sharp driving dynamics of a family hatchback.
The Captur’s certainly an eye-catching thing, especially when specified in contrasting colours and finished with the exterior trim Gloss Pack around the foglights and grille. Cars of this kind have to make a statement and in styling this one to do just that, Renault wanted to replicate the success in the ‘urban crossover’ market for small, beefier-looking supermini-based models.
This one isn’t visually pretentious but it’s undoubtedly a lot clever, something that comes through experience. Renault designed the Captur from the outset on a 2WD-only platform that didn’t have to support all-wheel drive hardware and so could be lower, lighter, cheaper to produce and support bodywork that would create a more spacious cabin.
You get the important high-set driving position with loads of headroom in the same kind of elevated position you’d get in Renault’s Scenic MPV. The plastics used are harder and less appealing but they seem to be well screwed together and look as if they’ll withstand the scuffs and stains of family life.
Around you, there’s a dashboard that Renault says, is ‘modern, welcoming and occupant-friendly’. Well it’s certainly modern. There’s a fashionable engine start/stop button and shiny, jazzy cabin finishes that grab your attention and refuse to let it go, especially if you’re in a car that’s benefitted from the huge array of trim personalisation that’s possible.
Ahead of you lies an overtly confident chrome-surrounded instrument cluster dominated by the kind of digital speedo that not everyone will like. Equally eye-catching, if specified, is the consumer electronic-fest that dominates the silver and gloss black-trimmed centre console in the form of a tablet-like display that is the 7-inch R-Link colour touchscreen. From here, as well as controlling the stereo and the Tom Tom sat nav, there’s the potential to surf the internet, email, use text-to-speak messaging, download a range of Renault-sourced apps and even get economy driving tips. It’s really very clever indeed.
Passionate and practical, the Captur is an endearing thing. Of course, there’s always a danger with this class of car that in its mix of SUV, MPV and family hatch, you end up with a confection lacking the core strengths inherent in any of these three genres.
Users will love the buying personalisation – and trendy touches like the removable seat covers and the clever apps you can download through the R-Link infotainment system. At which point, class-leading running costs and versatile features like the sliding rear bench and the double-sided boot floor will come as a welcome bonus.
True, this Captur faces increasing competition from a growing band of very talented rivals. But it’s a model you must consider before buying any one of them. A cleverer Crossover. If you really want a car of this kind, then you’ll really want to try it.