SUV war hots up

Re­nault’s com­pact Cap­tur set to en­ter the fray

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER IN GENEVA paul.gover@cars­ This re­porter isonTwit­ter @paulward­gover

A NEW SUV bat­tle­field is about to open in Aus­tralia as Re­nault con­firms lo­cal sales of its swish new Cap­tur cross­over.

The Cap­tur is smaller than the cur­rent com­pact con­tenders— in­clud­ing the Honda CR-V, Hyundai ix35, Subaru Forester and Toy­ota RAV4— and the French brand be­lieves it will also be a hit with younger shop­pers.

It is aim­ing for a sub$20,000 start­ing price.

Its most likely ri­val is the Subaru XV, although Nis­san is also coming soon with its funky Juke.

The Cap­tur is not a to­tally done deal yet, but ev­ery­thing points to sales early next year as the car is pre­viewed in pro­duc­tion form at the Geneva mo­tor show.

‘‘ The first half of 2014 is when it’s look­ing likely for Aus­tralia,’’ Re­nault Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Justin Ho­ce­var tells Cars­guide.

‘‘ Our busi­ness plan for Aus­tralia is look­ing very pos­i­tive. We’ve still got a few hur­dles to clear but I don’t think any are in­sur­mount­able. I had some very pos­i­tive meet­ings last week in Paris.’’

The Cap­tur has been con­verted al­most di­rectly from an edgy con­cept car de­signed by its new styling chief, one-time Mazda man Lau­rens van den Acker. Its name has also been brought along for show­rooms.

Re­nault be­lieves it’s a city-fo­cused cross­over and it def­i­nitely hits the same keys as the suc­cess­ful Range Rover Evoque, although the French brand is be­ing more prac­ti­cal with a slid­ing rear bench seat, a multi-po­si­tion boot floor, an 11-litre drawer-style glove­box and a range of in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems in­clud­ing the R-Link ap­proach to con­nec­tiv­ity.

It even weighs the same as the lat­est Clio 3 to boost its ef­fi­ciency.

‘‘ As the brand’s first ur­ban cross­over, Cap­tur com­bined all the ad­van­tages of the MPV, SUV and fam­ily hatch­back,’’ says van den Acker.

The Cap­tur is based on the lat­est Clio com­pact so it’s only 4.1m long and 1.7m wide, but it rolls on ei­ther 16 or 17-inch al­loys and has jacked up sus­pen­sion for the get­away look. Re­nault de­scribes the cabin space as ‘‘ gen­er­ous’’.

Key­less en­try and hill­start as­sist are stan­dard across the range, but Re­nault Aus­tralia is yet to con­firm equip­ment in­clud­ing zip-off seat cov­ers, a rear cam­era or the R-Link sys­tem.

The me­chan­i­cal fo­cus at Geneva is on the EDC du­al­clutch gear­box and turbo petrol 90 en­gine which gives 4.9L/100km, but there are two petrol and two diesel en­gines for the Cap­tur.

Con­fi­dent that the Cap­tur will open a new cat­e­gory, based on its size and price, Ho­ce­var says: ‘‘ There’s not a lot there in that size, es­pe­cially in Aus­tralia.

‘‘ It’s a light-class cross­over, smaller than a Nis­san Dualis and more like a Nis­san Juke or Opel Mokka.

‘‘ We haven’t touched on the price yet. But based on what’s in the mar­ket, it’s highly likely that the en­try model will be in the very high teens or early $20,000s.’’

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