Renault India may be a relatively young brand but because of well thought-out mass market products like the Duster and the Kwid doing well, they have managed to roll on the right path and gain a respectable market share. While the Kwid continues to sell in strong numbers, keeping Renault India in the small car game, the brand is struggling in the crossover space, what with the Duster feeling the heat from newer rivals. Enter the Captur, an all-new offering which represents a paradigm shift in crossover design for Renault. Unlike the Duster which follows the traditional boxy ethos of an SUV as we know it, the Captur is more streamlined and its design carries a lot more flair.
Anticipation is high, then, and the style-heavy Captur needs to punch above its weight to do well in the premium crossover segment which includes the hot selling Hyundai Creta and the impressive Jeep Compass.
The Captur is a bona fide result of the evolving crossover design trend in recent years. The segment has become increasingly competitive and accordingly, the Captur has been imbued with a quirky sense of style. It looks eccentric and very French, thanks to certain design elements like the gaping grille (with the large Renault logo) that meets the edges of the headlights, the C-shaped daytime running lights and the large front bumper. The all LED headlights are superbly intricate as are the 17-inch alloy wheels with their textured inlays.
These design highlights matched to a long and wide profile with a high stance ensure that the Captur looks modern and edgy enough to gain stares in a segment that’s becoming more stylish each time a new product is released. The Captur also scores well on the customisation bit as Renault is offering several styling add-ons in the form of roof graphics, external chrome trim, metal side steps and a rear bumper guard. All in all, the Captur builds on Renault’s recent global crossovers and appears quite stylish but is it better looking than the rough and ready Duster? We will let you be the judge.
The Captur definitely scores on the outside; however, its interior is bit of a mixed bag. For starters, the dashboard design is an amalgamation of bits from Renault’s latest European models and the tired layout of the Duster. Nonetheless, the highlight inhere is the funky instrument panel with a digital display for the speedometer while the tachometer and the fuel gauge remain analogue. The dash itself is curvy and looks lively compared to the one in the Duster, yet it isn’t as plush or well put together as the competition. You will find hard plastics pretty much all around you and some of the knobs and buttons, like the ones next to the steering column and power window switches, are nowhere as tactile as you would expect in a car of this segment.
The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is a familiar item that can be seen in all Renault India models including the Kwid. In the Captur though this system is paired to a better sounding music system and includes a better resolution display. That said, it isn’t as comprehensive as the Compass’ unit nor is it as visually appealing as the Creta’s system. For our first drive, Renault gave us all the top-spec Platine trim that comes with the 7-inch infotainment system, climate control, cruise control, leatherette seats, push button start, automatic LED headlamps and wipers. The Captur though misses out on a couple of essentials like the split folding rear bench and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
The Captur is quite impressive when it comes to visibility and seat comfort. The frontal view is among the best in class thanks to a large windscreen and thin A-pillars. Even the wing mirrors and the C-pillars aren’t that large, allowing for a clear all-round view. As for space and comfort, the front seats are tastefully trimmed and are fairly large, offering better back and under thigh support than the Duster’s flat seats. The second row, meanwhile, is equally supportive with a bench that offers adequate thigh support and a nicely contoured backrest. Cavernous it’s not, but the Captur’s rear is good enough for two occupants – there’s also an armrest and AC vents at the back for a more soothing ambience. There are a couple of minor annoyances though – firstly, the driving position is too high (even in the lowest setting) and so is the overall window line, the latter of which somewhat hampers the airy feeling. The 392-litre boot capacity is right about average in this segment but the loading area is fully flat and squared out, meaning it’s easier to stuff heavy items.
On the road, the Captur could be best described as ‘comfortable’. More on that later…
Now we ought to make it clear that the India-spec Captur is quite different from the one sold in the Europe. The Captur that we will be getting is based on Renault’s MO platform for emerging markets, which is why the brand has stuck with the tried and tested 1.5-litre K9K diesel motor. That being said, there is a vast difference in the way the Captur and the Duster behave on the road.
The Captur and the Duster share the same 1.5-litre 110bhp/240Nm diesel motor, however, the refinement levels are world apart. The Captur is significantly quieter on the move thanks to better insulation and a less noisy motor – one can hardly hear the diesel clatter once the windows are up. What’s more, the Captur also accelerates in a more linear manner than the Duster when the motor is on boost. For those who are wondering, there is still some turbo lag under 2,000rpm, post which the Captur pulls strongly till 4,500rpm or thereabout. The motor’s got enough torque lower down the rev range to propel the Captur through traffic without ever feeling like it needs to be worked too hard. To our surprise, even the clutch feel is different compared to the Duster – it’s more precise and not as heavy either.
Like the Duster, the Captur simply devours bad roads and manages to hover across giant potholes without unsettling itself. Yes, it is slightly stiff when compared to the Duster but the trade-off to this is better high speed poise when driving over undulated roads. Perhaps the most impressive bit is the way it rebounds quickly from any sharp bump you might encounter, regaining composure almost immediately. The only minor downside though, is the amount of noise that filters into the cabin. Over coarse-chip surfaces the interior plastics rattle a little too much and overall there’s some noticeable wind noise, too.
Put simply, the Captur is an interesting car. At first, it looks like a generic crossover but as you get closer its European design elements stand out and you realise that there is nothing quite like it in this segment – both the Creta and the Compass carry traditional crossover design cues.
The real question here, though, is whether the Captur advances the crossover game forward for Renault. It’s certainly improved over the Duster in many key areas including engine refinement, gearshift quality, cabin ergonomics and ride quality. However, it trails behind its rivals when it comes to interior quality and drivetrain options. Renault, then, have got to play their pricing card right to regain some momentum in the crossover segment. We expect the top-spec Kaptur to come in at a premium of around Rs 1 lakh over the Duster 110PS RxZ.
Photos By:Ameya Dandekar