Renault has been in the Indian automotive industry for over a decade now, and has had two big hits to its name in this journey so far. The first achievement was with the launch of its Duster SUV, which pretty much created the compact-SUV segment in the country. The second hit was the Kwid, which is a hatchback that features quasi-SUV-like styling. Both these models have had tremendous response from the market, and their sales figures are proof of this fact.
Renault India is now taking things one step ahead, and is bringing a new vehicle from its global portfolio to the Indian market. Yes, that vehicle is the soon-to-be-launched Captur, which the company says is a ‘premium SUV with crossover DNA.’ Renault first unveiled the production-spec Captur at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, and the vehicel has performed well for Renault globally. We drove the new Captur recently and here’s our take on the vehicle.
PLATFORM & EXTERIOR DESIGN
The Captur that is going to be launched in India is not based on the platform that’s used for the European-spec Captur. The India-bound Captur is based on Renault’s B0 platform, which is also used for the new Duster. In terms of dimensions, the Captur is a bit longer than the Duster, while being slightly narrower and a whole lot shorter. However, its wheelbase, at 2,673 mm, is the same as that of the Duster. Ground clearance of the India-spec Captur, at 210 mm, is also the same as the Duster’s and is, according to Renault, the highest among all Captur models being sold globally.
While the Captur shares much of its underpinnings with the Duster, the exterior design is brand new. The front-end of the Captur sees a sloping bonnet with chiselled curves to give it a strong design and an SUV-like nose. Attention-grabbing design elements at the front include a full-LED lighting system, the front grille, bumper and skid plate that is designed with multiple material finishes and colours. The most prominent element of the Captur’s nose is the large Renault emblem at the centre, along with a piano-black surround that flows into the bumper in the form of the grille. The bottom of the bumper features the secondary grille in matt black, which also encloses the fog lamps and cornering lamps, while finishing touches are provided by the satin-finish skid plate.
The car’s strong crossover design language is brought out by the black plastic cladding running across the car, beginning from the front bumper, around the wheelarches, down the running board and nicely integrating into the rear bumper. While Captur’s rear end is not as dramatic as the front, crossover elements are visible in the form of the neatly-infused spoiler and the multi-material bumper with satin-finish rear skid plate. The Captur sports chrome accents across the entire body, especially on design elements finished in black – bumpers, body cladding and the rear hatch. The Captur rides on 17-inch, crystal cut alloy wheels, which might come as standard equipment only on the top-end variant. These dual-tone wheels are finished in brushed-metal and gloss black, and are wrapped in 215/60 tyres. This wheel and tyre combination fills up the large wheelarches and adds to the overall stance of the Captur.
INTERIORS & FEATURES
The Captur’s interiors may be a familiar to existing Renault customers, with the vehicle featuring similar storage spaces on the dashboard and centre console as the Duster. However, the dashboard is a newly-designed piece, which houses the Captur’s 7-inch infotainment system and sleek controls for the automatic air-conditioning system, which have been carried over unchanged from the Duster.
The dashboard has a glove box in front of the co-driver that is smaller than it looks from the outside, and another little storage compartment above the centre console. A completely new element of the dashboard is the ‘infinity’ instrument cluster that combines digital and analogue information display for the driver. It has the tachometer and fuel gauge in analogue, while information including speed, gear-shift, driving range, instant fuel economy and mileage are provided in digital form.
Renault says the Captur features the company’s ‘OneIntegration concept,’ which is its design approach to connect the car and driver through a range of innovations. This begins with access to the vehicle, which is through a smart access card, followed by the engine start button, then being connected further with the automatic AC and the reverse parking camera. The Captur offers boot space of 392 litres, which can be expanded to 1,352 litres once the rear bench is folded down.
The Captur’s seats are apparently a bit on the firmer side but offer surprisingly good levels of comfort. The front seats offer the driver and passenger a high seating position, providing a commanding view of the surroundings, which most SUV/crossover buyers will appreciate. The back seat is placed pretty low and can be a hindrance during ingress and egress, especially for taller and/or older occupants. However, the low rear seats do help with providing more headroom and do provide adequate back support, though they lack under-thigh support. This could lead to passengers in the rear, especially those of above-average height, having a tough time on longer drives. On a positive note, the Captur is equipped with rear cooling AC vents which enable better cooling comfort for passengers seated in the rear.
The plastics on the dashboard are on the harder side, but are decent to touch and feel. However, we noticed inconsistent panel gaps in the interiors, as well as alignment issues where different plastics merge. Also, the footwell offers no place to rest the left foot when not engaging the clutch, which is inconvenient. The fixed front centre armrest in the car can sometimes be a hindrance, especially while engaging and disengaging the hand brake. Renault has carried forward its existing infotainment system, which is seen in some of its other vehicles, and doesn’t offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity. These negatives tend to reduce the premium quotient of the Renault Captur.
POWERTRAIN & DRIVE
Renault will offer the Captur with both diesel and petrol engine options. For this review, we drove the diesel variant, which features the company’s four-cylinder, 1461 cc, common-rail injection diesel engine (which also powers the top-end Duster) that produces 108 hp at 4,000 rpm and 240 Nm at 1,750 rpm. The petrol version of the Captur is powered by a four-cylinder, 1498 cc petrol engine, which has also been carried forward unchanged from the Duster. This engine produces 104.5 hp at 5,600 rpm and 142 Nm at 4,000 rpm.
The diesel motor is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while the petrol engine comes with a five-speed manual gear box. Only manual transmissions will be on offer when the Renault Captur is launched initially.
The diesel engine is a tried and tested unit, which has been quite the performer on the Duster. No surprises then as to how the engine delivers power in the Captur. Power delivery comes with a bit of lag below the 2,000 rpm mark, which then transforms into strong, linear delivery once the turbocharger spools up. The Captur is fun to drive when the engine is being revved to higher rpms, and the substantial torque that is available across the rev range also helps. The engine also offers an ECO mode, which delivers milder power during acceleration, leading to a more docile feel, with increased fuel economy being the main focus. This mode might be more suitable for city driving.
The overall driving dynamics of the Renault Captur are similar to that of the Duster. At the front, the Captur gets McPherson struts with lower transverse link and coil springs, while the rear features twist beam suspension with twin tube coil spring and telescopic shock absorbers. This setup offers the optimum balance between good handling characteristics and a comfortable drive, with the suspension soaking up pretty much all bumps and potholes without allowing almost any sound into the cabin, leading to a quiet and comfortable drive.
SAFETY & CONVENIENCE
The Renault Captur comes with high levels of safety, with dual airbags, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist as standard equipment. Renault says the Captur has been certified to exceed offset frontal and lateral crash test parameters and safety equipment includes side airbags, Electronic Stability Control and Hill Start Assist (HSA). HSA comes into effect when the vehicle is in gear and has come to a stand-still. Once the clutch is held in, and the brake pedal released, HSA holds the car at the same point for a couple of seconds, making it easier to drive away when the vehicle is parked on an incline, preventing unwanted roll-back.
In terms of the convenience factor, the Renault Captur features rain-sensing windshield wipers at the front, automatic headlamps, cruise control and two lateral ISOFIX child seat fixtures. However, the addition of auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror and a sunroof would have made things even better.
The Captur is definitely a good looking vehicle, but seems to borrow a fair bit from Renault’s other cars that have already been in the country for a while now. We wonder if the wonderful exterior design alone, with a few premium bits to the interiors, will help Renault establish another winning product in the very competitive Indian market. However, bookings are currently open for the Renault Captur, with the car expected to be launched before the upcoming festive season in October. Renault will offer various options to customers for extensively customising the Captur, both in terms of the exterior (graphics and chrome accents etc.) and the interior, which is likely to be a differentiating factor. The vehicle’s top-of-the-line ‘Platine’ variant will also make its global debut here, when the Captur is launched in India.
To summarise, while Renault wants to pitch the Captur as an SUV with crossover design elements, buyers might tend to wlook upon it as a crossover rather than an SUV. This might therefore be an opportunity for Renault to go after customers who are primarily in the market for a premium crossover, since they may be Renault’s primary customer base for the Captur.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: Vasu Anantha