Motoring: Renault's bid to Captur hearts and minds of Crossover fans
It is going to be another year of the Crossover. Take my word for it. Expect all sorts of marques and makes to tempt you with a combination of hatchback and SUV. You should see some of the stuff they've lined up.
I blame Nissan and its Qashqai for the spread of this 'Crossoveritis'. Every mum in town and country wants one, or something like it.
Renault is among those hoping to hitch a ride on the trend with its new Captur which, in its case, is a mix of people carrier, family hatch and SUV. Everything except the kitchen sink.
With all due respect it would want to make sure it mixes and matches its engines a good deal better than it does its body shapes.
Technology is wonderful and really a three-cylinder (898cc) turbo petrol engine should have no place in a vehicle of this size and stature. Match it up with a really poor five-speed gear shift and that is undoubtedly my verdict. The combination did not work for me at all. I was constantly changing down and I thought the box itself was edgy and uneasy.
There is a 1.5-litre diesel (90bhp, 95g/km) which is widely regarded as being better by a mile. I have no hesitation in telling you to consider that. Then you'll have the real thing.
A pity my introduction to the Captur should be disappointing on that front because otherwise it dials most of the correct numbers. It is undoubtedly striking in orange body and black roof. Decked out like that, it is much more than a familial motor. It is, dare I say, a bit of a statement.
The interior is straight from the phonebook of modern Renaults, neat, clever, thoughtful and practical. Especially practical, I felt. It has zipped removable, washableand wipeable seat covers -- I'd say every mum in the country would value that.
The boot (up to 1,235 litres when rear seat-backs folded) is smartly worked out as well with two levels. It worked really well for me. The rear bench slides forwards/backwards depending on passenger or luggage needs. Dial P for Practical alright.
The Captur is based on the Clio, one of my favourite superminis now (the diesel, which I drove again for a few days recently, is an outstanding piece of work).
And Renault has tuned the suspension to a nice level of tautness -- just a sniff of sporty but comfortable for the family run.
Leaving aside my criticism of how it is propelled, it is a decent package, very much of its Crossover era and considering the level of equipment it looks really well priced.
Just stick with the diesel, okay.