Renault is the largest European auto brand in India, a market which has a reputation for ruthlessly driving global giants into the ground. The French automaker didn’t get there by fluke. The disruptions caused by the Duster and then the Kwid sufficiently demonstrate Renault’s deep understanding of complicated and unforgiving Indian customers (there were learnings from the rebadged Scala/Pulse debacle as well).
Armed with that confidence, the company is gearing up to have a shot at the highly lucrative premium compact crossover segment which is currently being dominated by the fine Hyundai Creta. Renault’s equipment of choice is the Captur which is quite popular in markets like Europe, Russia , Brazil, etc. Has Renault India done enough with the Captur to impress the target customers who are well informed, tech savvy and demanding? After a day of driving on variety of Goan roads, we now have the answer.
What is it?
Renault Captur (Kaptur in Russia) is a global compact crossover based on Renault-Nissan Alliance’s B Platform which also underpins the Duster. The Indian version has been subjected to significant rework to suit local requirements including jacking up the ride height (unladen ground clearance of 210 mm). Equipment, engine and variant lineup too incorporate India-specific changes. For our market, Renault is emphasizing on the word ‘premium’ and hence has come up with a new top-of-the-line variant called Platine which is not offered anywhere else in the world.
Someone who has seen the European version of the Captur in flesh would immediately notice that the increased ground clearance has made an ocean of difference to the crossover’s stance. What looks like an overgrown hatchback in the old continent masquerades as a small SUV in the sub-continent.
The design is almost half a decade old (production model debuted at 2013 Geneva Motor Show) but has aged gracefully and still feels fresh. The oversized Renault lozenge, trademark trough shaped grille, stylish LED headlamps, bumper-mounted vertical DRLs and contoured bonnet set the tone for a bold and inviting visual character.
Renault’s designers have come up with a delightfully proportionate profile which looks good without trying too hard. Dual-tone color theme, striking 17-inch alloy wheels, Kwid-like rub strips (with chrome inserts) and subtle bulges on the sheet metal render a sporty appeal to the crossover. The rather simple rear fascia relies on generous chrome appliques, a silver diffuser and swept back taillights to garner attention.
Overall, the Renault Captur isn’t imposing by any measure but its a handsome and likable crossover whose design stay fresh for a long time.
The Captur borrows its dashboard design, layout and components heavily from the Clio hatchback but in the Indian context, its refreshingly new and has a modern appeal. The instrument binnacle with a digital speedometer display, AC vents and centre console with rich looking copper bezel, dual-tone color theme, plush leather seats, etc., make the cabin a fine place to be in. That said, the overall build quality, fit and finish of the dashboard fall short of our expectations (especially considering that the Captur is gonna sit above the Duster in Renault’s portfolio).
The front seats are large, have nice contours and are supremely comfortable while the rear bench offers good comfort as well. Leg room is adequate but it seems, Renault’s packaging engineers have opted for a generous boot space at a slight expense of rear legroom. No matter where you sit, the cabin feels light and airy.
In an attempt to give the Captur an SUV-ish appeal, Renault has given the car a tall seating position but we are not sure if we like it. Even the lowest seat height setting feels a bit too high but I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to. Otherwise, the driving position is very comfortable and one can really settle in for a long haul without any issues.
While overall visibility is good, A-pillars do come in the way at times. Also, the blind zones in the rear three quarters are large enough to hide a two wheeler.
Under the hood
Renault Captur for India is available with 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol and turbocharged diesel engines. The former produces 104 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 142 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm while the latter is good for 106 bhp at 4,000 rpm and 240 Nm of torque at 1,750 rpm. The diesel motor is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission while the petrol mill makes do with a 5-speed unit.
We only got an opportunity to drive the diesel version and right from the word go, things were familiar. That’s not a bad thing because the K9K has been a core part of Renault India’s success and in its 106 bhp avatar, it has proven to be a terrific mile muncher.
In the Duster, this motor is known to be very sluggish under 2,000 rpm but we are happy to note that things have improved in Captur’s case. There is still some grey area below 1,500 rpm but once past it, part throttle response is good enough to keep you moving without hiccups. The good news is, whatever the boffins have done with the engine to improve its low-speed driveability didn’t affect its brilliant mid-range punch even a bit. As ever, the 1.5 K9K feels best between 2,000 to 3,000 rpm and can stay there happily all day.
The 6-speed gearbox has well distributed ratios and offers impressive in-gear acceleration in higher gears. This makes overtaking on the highways a breeze and at the same time, reduces the number of gearshifts in urban environment.
To sum it up, the Captur diesel has retained all the advantages of the Duster diesel while offering noticeably improved driveability. Renault has not revealed the ARAI mileage figures and we didn’t have the chance to calculate the real world mileage ourselves but rest assured, the motor’s positive track record speaks for itself.
Renault Captur is based on Duster’s platform and it shows in the way it drives. The ride quality is supple and there are no unnecessary vertical movements when the car traverses rough patches or potholes. While the 210 mm ride height induces inherent body roll, the car holds its line well even when pushed hard around the corners. ESP steps in promptly if things go out of hand.
The Captur has assuring high speed stability and comes to a drama-less halt under panic braking. The stopping power from the front discs and rear drums are adequate and no complains there. Overall NVH level is a notch higher than what the Duster offers.
All in all, the Captur’s on-road mannerisms are very similar to those of the Duster, so much so that if you’re driving them back to back with a blindfold, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
Renault is keen on positioning the Captur as a premium compact SUV and the equipment list justifies that. Key highlights of the top-end Platine trim include front and side airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, LED headlamps, floating turn indicators (front), ULC 3.0 touchscreen infotainment system with reverse parking camera display, automatic climate control, leather seats, keyless entry with smart access card, start/stop button, and so on.
Apart from dual-tone exterior color theme, rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels, the customers can also opt to personalize their crossover with a wide array of accessory packs.
Renault Captur emerges as an able all rounder with good looks, comfortable cabin, impressive dynamics and a long equipment list. Of course, there are rooms for improvement. For example, the dashboard plastic quality and overall fit & finish could be better. And it could do with an obvious unique selling proposition like the Duster or Kwid.
It is essentially an extensively repackaged Duster with different appeal, slightly better equipment list, and premium pricing (how much is still a question to be answered by Renault). Considering that the Duster has managed to make the Indian customers happy, we don’t see why the Captur can’t. That said, the extent of premium that Renault is going to ask for its latest offering over the Duster will determine its value-for-money quotient which will be crucial for its success. Let’s wait and watch!