Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Craig Duff

IT'S all about the look with the Re­nault Cap­tur, from the op­tional two-tone ex­te­rior styling to the dim­pled sur­faces, coloured zip­pers and bright plas­tic high­lights in the cabin.

But there's a method be­hind the in­te­rior-designer mad­ness.

The sur­faces will be easy to wipe down, which will en­dear them to par­ents with young kids and 20-some­things who tend to live in their ve­hi­cles on week­ends away.

The same ap­plies to the zip-off cush­ion cov­ers stan­dard in the top-end Dy­namique and a $600 op­tion for the Ex­pres­sion.

While the looks will grab the most at­ten­tion, it's the un­der­pin­nings of the Re­nault that will ap­peal to diehards used to the brand's hot hatches.

The Cap­tur is des­tined to be a hit in the same way as the Clio light car it is based on.

The stiff­ened sus­pen­sion def­i­nitely puts it at the sporty end of the light SUV brigade. The oc­ca­sion­ally jumpy ride is com­pen­sated for by se­cure road­hold­ing and one of the bet­ter steer­ing feels in the class, but the pace, in ei­ther 900cc turbo three-cylin­der man­ual or 1.2litre turbo four-cylin­der auto, is at the mod­er­ate end of the scale.

This baby SUV is a smart mix of stylish looks and de­cent stan­dard fea­tures.

Prices start at $22,990 for the turbo three-cylin­der Ex­pres­sion with a five-speed auto; puts the Cap­tur against the front-wheeldrive vari­ants of the Ford EcoS­port Trend at $22,290, Holden Trax LS from $23,990, the $22,090 Nis­san Juke ST and the Peu­geot 2008 Ac­tive from $21,990.

Stan­dard gear in­cludes a seven-inch touch­screen with sat­nav and a re­vers­ing cam­era, auto lights and wipers, key­less en­try and a slid­ing rear bench seat that can mix and match rear legroom with cargo ca­pac­ity.

With the seats in their most for­ward po­si­tion, cargo space is a handy 377 litres.

The next step up gets the same in­te­rior fea­tures, but with a sixspeed twin-clutch au­to­matic matched to a 1.2-litre four-cylin­der for $25,990.

The Dy­namique tops the range at $27,990 with a stan­dard twotone paint job that's a $1000 op­tion on the Ex­pres­sion, along with fog­lights with a cor­ner­ing func­tion, 17-inch al­loy rims and wash­able zip-off seat cov­ers.

The Cap­tur doesn't have rear side airbags, but still gets five stars from the of­fi­cial Ancap testing regime.

The Cap­tur rides 163mm off the ground and its hip point – the level of the seat squab – is 100mm higher than in a Clio.

That makes it eas­ier to get in and out and the doors open wide enough to al­low that.

In-car en­ter­tain­ment is han­dled by a seven-inch touch­screen with sat­nav. There's an en­hanced RLink in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with up­graded sound sys­tem for $990, a choice of wheel colours, or­ange/green/blue in­te­rior trim ac­cents and a range of de­cals.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion is a trend brands are look­ing to lever­age.

The slid­ing rear bench seat means four adults can squeeze in with­out need­ing to dis­lo­cate limbs. The back seat po­si­tion is up­right and the pews are flat but the essen­tials, head, leg and shoul­der room, are all catered for.

The ride it­self is choppy at ur­ban pace over sharp-ridged bumps, es­pe­cially in the back where the tor­sion beam rear end can crash over hits. It han­dles faster, open roads with shal­lower ruts with far more deco­rum.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is ac­cept­able in the 0.9litre three-cylin­der, which rolls eas­ily along the free­way at 110km/h, though over­tak­ing moves would need to be well planned.

The 1.2litre is a sec­ond quicker to 100km/h and feels it both off the mark and dur­ing in-gear ac­cel­er­a­tion. The six-speed dual-clutch auto hes­i­tates off the mark and isn't as crisp on the changes as more ad­vanced mod­els.

It does help keep fuel use down to 5.4litres/100km.

Ver­dict: Dif­fer­ences in de­sign and lay­out should cap­ture fans for this mini SUV. It has the price, pack­ag­ing and high-rid­ing po­si­tion to earn a slice of the fastest grow­ing seg­ment in town.

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