Re­nault Cap­tur

Made-for-In­dia French cross­over im­presses us

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

Vanilla is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the plainJane, the bland, even con­sid­ered colour­less. Yet, Vanilla isn’t so. It’s one of the more com­plex flavours, and get­ting it right — from the beans to the mix — is what truly con­trib­utes to the even­tual creamy-smooth flavour. French Vanilla takes things one step fur­ther. No, it isn’t a Vanilla bean grown in France. Rather, it’s the ad­di­tion of more flavour, and colour, from the egg-yolk that goes in. Dis­tinct im­ages come to mind of noted chef, Guil­laume Brahimi, do­ing what he does best — be­sides adding more but­ter. French Vanilla, then, is more depth of flavour and tech­nique than one sees at first. And renowned French car­mak­ers Re­nault have given us one more con­tem­po­rary ex­am­ple of how to bring beauty and depth of flavour to the road. This is the Cap­tur. The flag­ship.

It’s been avail­able over­seas for some time now, wow­ing ur­ban SUV seek­ers with its style and flow­ing de­sign lan­guage. And, now, here it is in In­dia but it’s not the same car. It’s longer, at 4,329 mm, and higher, with a 210-mm ground clear­ance. The same proven K9K turbo-diesel en­gine that fares so well in so many mod­els over­seas pow­ers it here. Re­nault have been on a badge-en­gi­neer­ing run. Not since the Koleos and Flu­ence — and, okay, the Kwid — have we re­ceived a car from the French with its orig­i­nal badge. The Cap­tur takes the val­ues of the Duster and raises them fur­ther. There has been some se­ri­ous at­ten­tion to de­tail, but is it enough to make it a suc­cess?

Ex­te­rior styling for the Cap­tur is some­thing Re­nault have to be proud of. The new face of the French ma­jor comes here for the first time with the bold grille sharply ta­per­ing to­wards its ex­trem­i­ties. The LED head­lamps with ‘float­ing’ turn in­di­ca­tors take a page from the ex­otic

and su­per-lux­ury book. The ac­cen­tu­at­ing lines con­tinue on the air dam and host LED day­time lights. The side pro­file has pro­nounced lines and sweeps up­wards sharply. To­gether with the ‘crys­tal-cut’ 17-inch al­loy wheels, they give this car a bolder pro­file not of­ten seen. The rear is tight, but looks vaguely fa­mil­iar, al­beit much larger. LED tail-lamp clus­ters com­plete the look.

In­side, the most out­stand­ing fea­ture is the pair of front seats. A lot of re­search and ef­fort has gone into mak­ing them not just feel good, but also look good. While Re­nault could have slimmed the seat-backs and light­ened them as well as freed up room, they haven’t. The bril­liant er­gonomics and com­fort come from the fact that they’ve re­tained the large units. The sup­port is fan­tas­tic and is in just the right places, too. The at­ten­tion to de­tail on the seats, with the faux leather and the con­trast stitch­ing, makes you feel like this is in­deed a spe­cial car you’re in. Again, this is a bag of mixed emo­tions be­cause while the seats are bril­liant, there are ways com­fort could be im­proved. They’re mounted far too high, and only the driver’s seat is ad­justable. Low­er­ing the seats and, maybe, even of­fer­ing power ad­just­ments would surely make things much bet­ter.

There are sev­eral fea­tures that are com­men­su­rate with the qual­ity and price in ques­tion. The dash­board lay­out and de­sign look artis­tic and the tone of the metal ac­cents — soft sil­ver and gold, no less — look and feel rather fancy. The cen­tre touch­screen Me­di­aNA V sys­tem makes con­nec­tiv­ity and nav­i­ga­tion eas­ier. Again, the mixed bag steps in to say the qual­ity of plas­tic could be im­proved. The door-han­dles and switches are from the parts bin used by the Duster and Lodgy. And there’s no sun­roof. Okay, to be fair, Re­nault haven’t an­nounced a price yet, but they’re say­ing it will be ex­tremely ap­peal­ing, let alone com­pet­i­tive.

More good­ies are on of­fer. First, the flat key. The Cap­tur is equipped with key­less en­try and go, and even a lit­tle slot for the key. The start but­ton sits neatly on the cen­tre con­sole, not hid­den from view. There are sev­eral stor­age spa­ces around the cabin and each one can store ob­jects of vary­ing shapes and sizes. The boot is large and wide, with ad­di­tional un­der-floor stor­age avail­able. Safety-wise, ABS is stan­dard, as are four airbags: dual front and side bags.

So what of its abil­ity? The Re­nault Cap­tur is based on the B0 stretched-wheel­base plat­form from Da­cia; who cre­ated the Duster. In all fair­ness, it’s bril­liant. The suspension is noth­ing short of en­gi­neer­ing wiz­ardry — as al­ways! — and it deals with all sur­faces and changes in di­rec­tion pretty much flaw­lessly. How­ever, that

also means it gets the 1.5-litre turbo-diesel K9K mo­tor in dCi110 guise, and its surge of torque.

We were in Goa driv­ing across and that meant a good mix of nar­row roads, steep in­clines, sud­den di­rec­tion changes, even grass and sand (we hit the beach!). The Cap­tur sounds rea­son­ably re­fined, yet the early morn­ing hours meant the diesel clat­ter was au­di­ble through the sound dead­en­ing. Paired to a six-speed man­ual driv­ing the front wheels, the en­gine’s lack of re­sponse be­low 1,750 rpm meant fre­quent shifts to first to tackle the many speed-humps. The gate is small and the throws are short, thank­fully. Post 2,000 rpm, though, there’s a strong wave of torque. Yes, it may be 245 Nm but even that can seem am­pli­fied by the lack of low-end grunt. The drive­abil­ity on the move is good. The mid-range builds well and over­tak­ing is eas­ier given the en­gine’s char­ac­ter. It will rev strong to over 4,000. There’s scope, rather, a ne­ces­sity, for an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion here and their new dual-clutcher, on sale in Europe and the UK, should do just fine.

The steer­ing feel is ex­cel­lent, the new info-con­sole be­hind it is easy to read, with its mix of dig­i­tal and ana­logue. The steer­ing wheel is height-ad­justable. The right spoke suc­cess­fully makes the phone-con­trol stalk in­vis­i­ble, but once you fig­ure it out, you know where ev­ery­thing is. The gauges are also in­for­ma­tive and a real-time fuel econ­omy read-out ac­tu­ally tells you how much fuel you’ve used, apart from the fuel econ­omy; 11 km/l was what we saw in the city. You’ll have to wait for the road test to find out ex­actly how much it de­liv­ers.

No price to give you yet, but we ex­pect to see some­thing around Rs 15 lakh. Re­nault will also of­fer a lot of per­son­al­i­sa­tion choices. Ev­ery­thing from a dual-tone roof and roof-rails to a choice of graph­ics as well as themes will be avail­able. It’s a great all-rounder and can deal with a fair bit of the rough stuff and tricky ter­rain. It’s a clas­sic French au­to­mo­tive dish bal­anc­ing con­ve­nience, com­fort, safety, and prac­ti­cal­ity with ex­u­ber­ant de­sign and mod­ern touches. Plain-Jane Vanilla? Far from it.

Be­low) Bold new grille ahead of the proven 1.5-litre turbo-diesel en­gine with 110 PS

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