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Renault Captur review: Charming baby SUV arrives

The Renault Captur needs to be a winner.

Released into an increasingly popular – and competitive – baby SUV market, the little crossover has to contend with popular alternatives such as the Mazda CX-3, Toyota Yaris Cross and Hyundai Venue.

Based on the fifth-generation Clio hatch that isn’t available in Australia, the cheapest Renault brings high-riding suspension, a huge boot and urban styling including two-tone paint and the black lower body cladding now de rigueur in this class. It’s smaller than showroom siblings such as the Kadjar and Koleos, but a fair bit larger than before.

There’s just one engine in the three-pronged Australian Captur range, an impressive 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo that needs 6.6L/100km of premium unleaded to make healthy 113kW and 270Nm maximums.

The line-up starts at $28,190 plus on-road costs – about $31,000 drive-away – for the entry-level Captur Life. It gets 17-inch alloys, LED headlights and a 7-inch portrait-style touchscreen linked to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a six-speaker stereo. Auto emergency braking and lane keeping assistance are standard, but blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts add $1000.

Mid-range Captur Zen models add those extras as standard, plus two-tone paint, smart keys, climate control, a heated leather steering wheel and more for a further $2600.

The range-topping Captur Intens shown here is a further $5000 upstream at $35,790 plus on-roads (about $40,000 drive-away), adding 18-inch alloys, a 9.2-inch touchscreen with sat nav and 9-speaker Bose stereo, electric driver’s seat adjustment, leather trim, interior mood lighting and better LED headlights.

Intens customers can spend $2000 more on an “easy life” pack with a 10.25-inch digital dash, self-parking and automatic high beams.

Active cruise control adds $500 to the top grade, which is annoying when rivals such as the Toyota C-HR have all safety gear as standard across the range. Capped price servicing runs to $2385 for five years, which is a dearer than most, but has no hidden extras.

We tested the Captur in fully-loaded form, where it looked sharp in Atacama Orange metallic paint ($650). The new cabin is a highlight, thanks to a floating centre console, twin USB outlets each for the front and rear, comfortable seats and more space than before. It feels better resolved the original Captur, but misses out on fun features such as removable seat covers with oversized zippers.

The bigger new model can accommodate adults in the rear, the digital dash looks great (though we’re not sure it’s worth a $2000 investment), and the tablet touchscreen looks sharp but can be clunky to use.

Every Australian Captur has a punchy turbo motor paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels. There’s no all-wheel-drive or manual option, but paddle shifters are standard in all three grades.

The gearbox can be tricky at low speeds when its stop-start system and slightly hesitant programming conspire to create the odd dodgy moment. It’s more convincing on the open road, where the strong engine has an advantage over most of the competition – much of it powered by less muscular three-cylinder engines.

The Captur is fun to drive, with accurate steering and a punchy motor that make it more endearing than most. As with many high-riding hatchback spin-offs, the ride is a little busier than we would like, particularly on coarse roads outside urban areas.

VERDICT 3.5/5

Punchy, stylish and bigger than before, the second-gen Captur is worth a look.

RENAULT CAPTUR VITALS

Price: From about $31,000 drive-away

Engine: 1.3-litre 4-cyl turbo, 113kW/270Nm

Warranty/Service: 5-year/unlimited km, $2385 for 5 years

Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist

Thirst: 6.6L/100km

Spare: Space saver

Cargo: 422 litres

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