Renault out to Captur hearts and minds with funky new baby crossover
Renault doesn't do 4x4s here – and for very good reason.
Rewind back to 2008 and what was the beginning of the end of the Celtic Tiger and subsequently the final nail in the coffin of the French car giant's all-wheel-drive aspirations.
The destination was Fez in North Africa for the launch of the Koleos, possibly one of the ugliest SUVs ever produced.
Thankfully, it drove better than it looked, but pound for pound just didn't cut the mustard against the likes of the Mitsubishi Outlander or even the smaller Toyota Rav 4.
Worse still was the impending changes to the road tax and VRT tables which would now be based on emissions and not engine size.
By July (€2,000 a year tax), the Gallic dream was well and truly over and within a couple of years production for Ireland and the UK ceased altogether.
A harsh lesson to learn and one they weren't about to repeat.
Five years on, and crossovers are the way to go – a vehicle that looks likes an SUV, has the versatility of an MPV and the economy of a small city car.
After the phenomenal success of the all-new Clio it was a no-brainer not to expand into this new, highly lucrative market, and the Captur (pronounced capture) was born.
And it is sure to capture a few hearts with a heady mix of funky colours and hip styling.
Our test model was burnt orange and ivory with piano black panels running across the door sills, grille, boot and flanks – trimmed in chrome.
If “stand out from the crowd” is your thing, then this is the bus for you, as we never had so many women compliment a small car.
Inside, that French flair continues with pretty much the same cabin as the Clio, only with an elevated driving position and much more room.
“Roomy” and “versatile” are the key words in this segment, and this little run-around ticks all the right boxes.
A sliding rear bench seat provides up to 215mm of knee room for rear passengers while the brilliant little touches like the unzippable seat covers and split-level boot (with up to 1,235 litres of luggage space) will be an absolute God-send for stressed-out mums.
There is a decent amount of standard kit too including 16-inch alloy wheels, body coloured bumpers, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, Hill Start Assist, speed limiter, Bluetooth, trip computer, hands-free key card, automatic climate control and leather steering steering wheel.
The Captur is available in both a 900cc, three-cylinder, petrol engine generating 90bhp and a 1.5 litre diesel power plant which is already tried and tested in the best-selling Clio.
The oil-burner is unbelievably frugal and sips the juice, returning an astounding 70mpg, and has hybrid-like emissions of only 95g/km – meaning road tax of only €180 a year.
Just don’t expect fireworks, and the handling is not exactly hot hatch either.
That said, it spins around the city effortlessly, is easy to park (thanks to optional colour reversing camera) and she certainly looks the part.
Prices for the Renault Captur start from €19,390.