Capture quality of life
BRIAN BASSETT becomes king of the parking lot and explorer of the wild in the new Captur
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.
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.
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.
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.