Cap­ture qual­ity of life

BRIAN BAS­SETT be­comes king of the park­ing lot and ex­plorer of the wild in the new Cap­tur

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THE cost of liv­ing for mid­dle class fam­i­lies in South Africa has risen steeply.

Re­tire­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, med­i­cal aids and hous­ing costs erode what­ever in­creases we re­ceive. Fam­i­lies are find­ing it more dif­fi­cult to keep two cars and are turn­ing to a sin­gle ve­hi­cle that can take care of all their needs.

This is prob­a­bly why the com­pact cross­over seg­ment of the SUV mar­ket is the fastest grow­ing one in South Africa and Re­nault has just added its con­tri­bu­tion to that sec­tor with the new Cap­tur, which was launched in the coun­try in 2015.

My thanks to McCarthy Re­nault in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for mak­ing the Cap­tur avail­able to me for a few days.

Styling

The French have an ob­ses­sion with style and the Cap­tur ben­e­fits from this. There is no risk of miss­ing it in a park­ing lot.

The Clio-based light cross­over, with its bold bi-colour paint­work, chunky styling and pur­pose­ful stance, which is ac­cen­tu­ated by the high ride, black lower body cladding and eye­catch­ing 17-inch al­loys, with a de­cided Art Nouveau char­ac­ter, lend the car an im­pos­ing air.

The front has a cen­trally placed Re­nault diamond badge flanked by head­light mod­ules that run sleekly back­wards. Fog lights are built into the front bumper.

The re­main­der of the car has its over­all char­ac­ter ex­pressed in smooth, flow­ing, even lines, which cre­ate an ag­ile, dy­namic and el­e­gant im­pres­sion. The elec­tric mir­rors look good in a con­trast­ing colour and fold back at the driver’s com­mand.

In­te­rior

The Cap­tur has a spa­cious in­te­rior with a full set of elec­tric win­dows.

I par­tic­u­larly like the two-tone seat cov­ers that are cov­ered in a ro­bust ma­te­rial and can be un­zipped and re­moved for clean­ing af­ter the kids have turned the seats into a play area.

Con­trast­ing stitch­ing also adds flair to the in­te­rior. The dash­board has two ana­logue di­als cov­er­ing the rev counter and fuel gauge, as well as a dig­i­tal speedome­ter, which makes easy read­ing when the car is filled with noisy chil­dren or talk­a­tive adults.

The multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel is leather cov­ered and fully ad­justable, as is the driver’s seat mak­ing long-dis­tance driv­ing plea­sur­able.

The cen­tral con­sole is dom­i­nated by a 17-cm touch screen, which han­dles the sat­nav (a stan­dard fea­ture across the range). The four-speaker ra­dio, with Blue­tooth, USB and hands-free tech­nol­ogy, although I had to bor­row a mem­ory stick from a friend as this model does not take CDs.

The gear lever is also fin­ished in leather and the cruise con­trol, eco-mode but­ton and hands-free key card, which ap­pealed to me, com­plete a well-equipped in­te­rior.

The rear space is re­mark­ably com­fort­able and seats five easily.

If you only have to seat four, the cen­tral panel in the rear seat folds down into an arm rest, which in­creases rear com­fort con­sid­er­ably. The boot of­fers 377 litres of space, while with the rear bench for­ward you get 455 litres. With the rear seats folded for­ward in 60/40 fash­ion, the car of­fers a huge 1 235 litres.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Cap­tur has the usual seat­belts for all, cor­ner­ing fog lights, rear park sen­sors as well as four airbags, the pas­sen­ger airbag can be switched off.

There is also ABS, EBA, and an al­pha­bet soup of safety mea­sures in­clud­ing a three-point ISOFIX fit­ting for child seats.

So the Cap­tur is a safe car for your fam­ily, whether you are col­lect­ing the chil­dren from school or go­ing to Cape Town to see the par­ents. There is also an on­board alarm and cen­tral lock­ing.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Cap­tur comes with Re­nault’s proven 898 cc, three-cylin­der, turbo-charged petrol en­gine that de­liv­ers 66 kW and 135 Nm for peppy per­for­mance via a fivespeed man­ual gear­box, with 150 Nm over­boost when you put foot. If you want more power, pur­chase the 1 197 cc four-cylin­der, 88 kW/190 Nm turbo, Dy­namique auto, that uses a six-speed auto box.

The 100 km/h marks comes up in 12,9 sec­onds and top speed on the car I drove is 171 km/h, while the four-cylin­der 88 kW auto will do around 192 km/h and reach 100 kph in 11,5 sec­onds.

The three-cylin­der Cap­tur is an ideal town car. Its elec­tri­cally as­sisted steer­ing is well-weighted and the car ex­hibits ex­cel­lent body con­trol be­cause of the tweaked Clio chas­sis spe­cially made for it. Some of Pi­eter­mar­itzburg’s tight side streets al­lowed the Cap­tur to show its ex­cel­lent han­dling qual­i­ties, while its speed-adap­tive steer­ing and 10,8 me­tre turn­ing cir­cle made park­ing lots a plea­sure.

On longer dis­tances the Cap­tur shows ex­cel­lent re­fine­ment and road hold­ing, which in my opin­ion makes it an ef­fort­less long-dis­tance cruiser.

The some­times dif­fi­cult road sur­faces in the city pre­sented no prob­lem to the sup­ple sus­pen­sion, only the oc­ca­sional deep pot­hole caught the car by sur­prise. On the Mid­lands D roads the Cap­tur ac­quit­ted it­self well de­spite its front-wheel drive train. It was sta­ble on loose sur­faces and its ground clear­ance of about 200 mm made for less anx­i­ety on rocky roads.

Fuel con­sump­tion for my driv­ing style was around 6,1 litres per 100 km.

Prices and com­peti­tors

There are three Cap­tur mod­els avail­able, the Ex­pres­sion at around R220 000, the car I drove the Dy­namique cost­ing about R240 000 and the 88kW Dy­namique Auto at R280 000.

The cars come with a fiveyear/150 000 me­chan­i­cal war­ranty, a three-year 45 000 km ser­vice plan and a six-year anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranty. This is the most com­pet­i­tive area of the South African car mar­ket so have a look, amongst oth­ers, at the very pop­u­lar Ford Ecos­port, the Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Opel Mokka and Suzuki SX4.

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

De­spite lug­ging all that space in­side, the Cap­tur’s 898 cc en­gine just sips petrol, while the 1,2 makes 190 Nm for steady power up hills.

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