Do not try to evade Captur

Renault is out to arrest you with its charming little crossover


Compact crossover – there’s a mouthful! This hybrid body type, part SUV, part car is to the industry what minivans were in the 80s. They are becoming the people mover of choice and globally, the segment has been gaining lots of steam.

The automakers are falling over themselves to play in this space not only because of its potential but because the crossover represents a sweet spot in terms of profits. Most if not all are based on an existing platforms and the minor tweaks yield a far greater dividend because customers are willing to pay more. The Honda HR-V, is a case in point.captur2

While Malaysia is a little late to the party, the segment is moving quickly. Besides the Honda, there’s the Ford Ecosport, the Peugeot 2008 and later in the year, the Mazda CX-3. And why not? Let’s face it. For the prices we pay, the sedans in the C-segment do not really ignite a fire in the loins. The compact crossover is a welcome thrill, ostensibly because of its “practicality” but I think it is also more about the fact that they are visually, a lot more interesting, if not alluring than a standard three-box.

Renault, not to be outdone, previewed their Clio-based crossover, the Captur last week (deliveries start in October). If it were based on looks alone, this car is a winner. The Renault Captur looks distinctive, with its combination of high ride height and sloping roof-line.captur6

Like its rivals, the Captur (pronounced as “capture”) is essentially a jacked-up version of a regular city car that largely mirrors the mainstream Clio hatch on which it is based in terms of mechanical components and equipment. While the Captur uses the same lightweight underpinnings as the Clio, with ground clearance increased to 163mm, it has a new shell that liberates marginally more interior space by being 60mm longer overall than its hatchback sibling.

This French crossover is about style and has added peacock appeal, allowing you to choose two-tone exterior colour schemes and it comes with trendy “shell-shaped” seats with easily removable and washable zip collection covers. The dashboard has a modern, flowing design and although the surfaces are hard, everything’s been dimpled and stylised to the point where it gives off a quality feel. The centrepiece  is a seven-inch MediaNav infotainment system and safety kit comes in the form of front and side airbags (no curtains), with stability control.


capture8Interior space is adequate and four adults will have no problem on a long drive. With the sliding rear seat set right back, you get a reasonable 377-litre boot, extending to a healthy 455 litres with the bench slid fully forward. There’s also a double-sided (carpet and rubber) hard boot floor that splits the rear luggage space and creates a substantial – and hidden – storage space.

Sounds pretty humdrum but in the flesh, the car does make your head turn, and not in a bad way. Very often when designers go the stylised route, cars end up looking “cute”. The Captur is refreshing in that it imbues the athleticism of the Clio with a sense of “fun”.

How do you order your Captur


captur7The Captur comes in four two-tone tone exterior colour options. There’s a Pacific Blue with an Ivory roof, while the other three colours Arizona Orange, Beige and Ivory are paired with a diamond black roof.  I have generally not been one for two tone paint jobs because they come across as gimmicky but I actually quite like it on the Captur. The Captur also comes with removable seat covers in various themes – Arizona Orange exterior gets orange interior accents, Pacific Blue comes with a white trimmed cabin, while beige and white cars get plain black stuff inside – which are washable and secured via velcro and zips. Very handy for when you spill the chicken kurma or the when the kids decide to express their artistic flair with crayons.

My favourite part of the Captur (in principle) has got to be the 1.2-litre TCe 120 turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 120hp and 190Nm at 2,000 rpm. The motor is paired to a six-speed EDC dual-clutch gearbox and power goes to the front wheels. 0-100 km/h is done in 10.9 seconds while top speed is 192 km/h. This is the future. Little engines producing the same power once only seen in engines with almost twice the capacity. (As a Sri Lankan Tamil, the idea of getting more for less always warms the cockles of my heart)

The Captur is expected to retail at around the RM120,000 mark and comes with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty. So this is where it gets interesting. If you are in the segment, you cannot not look at the Captur. Aside from being the most distinctive looker in the segment, for a CBU it is good value. And if by some miracle, TC Eurocars is able to throw in the five-year maintenance package that comes with the Fluence, it will make it a no-brainer.


And now it’s my turn to eat some humble thosai. For years, I have sniped at the idea of this segment because I saw them as clever marketing ploys, intended to milk customers with an unjustified premium. I now must admit that these cars make sense, especially in a distorted market like ours where the customer is screwed by a ridiculous tax regime.

If the Captur and its ilk are a sign of things to come, I might be driving a small crossover some day too, although I wish we could find a shorter term than “compact crossover”.