Renault Captur

Open the driver’s side door and the relationship between this new Captur and new Clio is immediately recognisable. Like that of its supermini sibling, the compact crossover’s cabin has been thoroughly overhauled. Compared to rivals, this feels one of the more visually appealing cars in its class. Renault says the upgrades make the Captur “modern” and “upmarket”.

The centrepiece of the overhauled cabin is a new 10.4in, Google-integrated, vertical touchscreen – available on all trims – which incorporates Renault’s latest OpenR Link infotainment platform, bringing a raft of new connectivity functions and wireless smartphone mirroring as standard. 

That screen is quite easy to use, with key areas such as maps, vehicle controls, phone and music pinned at the top. It’s much slicker than its laggy predecessor; its bright and clear display makes map reading from the integrated Google Maps a doddle. That map can also be displayed on models fitted with the 10.25in digital driver cluster. Physical volume buttons can also be found on the top of the screen, which is a nice touch.

Downsides come in the form of really poor rear camera quality, which really lacks what rivals such as Ford and Hyundai offer. 

Renault has – following other car makers –  also done away with the climate control dials that once sat below the screen. In its place, like the Renault Megane, are smaller piano key-style switches that work just as well, albeit there are no dual controls. The fact the climate controls are not in the screen itself is another plus.

Now we move on to the flavour of the moment: driving aid systems. Fitted because of new GSR2 European laws – which includes speed warnings, lane departure prevention, driver motoring and more – the Captur’s is by no means the worst or most intrusive, but the speed limit changing notification, which dings whenever you enter a new limit zone (which, in a city, is a lot) is really is very annoying. 

What’s more, it gets it wrong quite regularly, given the sheer number of signs dotted about – as we found on our Madrid city centre test route. And, given this is linked to the speed warning, this then produces additional bongs to let you know you’re speeding, even though you’re not.

Thankfully, Renault lets you swap between Personal and All-On set-ups, which, if you set it up that way, essentially allows you to turn all the systems off at the double-click of a switch. 
By law the system reset on every start.

Materials inside the car are mostly nice too. In our Techno test car, which sits in the middle of an expected three car UK line-up, soft-touch plastics cover the dashtop, with a metal-feeling bar – strangely like a Land Rover Defender – in front of the passenger. In top-rung Esprit  Alpine spec, much of the plastics are replaced with a soft-touch cloth design; Alpine logos are also added.

Unfortunately, like its predecessor, the Captur’s interior doesn’t impress consistently under closer tactile inspection; your fingers don’t have to stray too far into the cabin’s lower reaches to discover harder, cheaper-feeling surfaces and fixings.

As with the pre-facelifted car, our testers found the shifter for the automatic transmission – which does not change in the new model – felt particularly flimsy and brittle, and will loudly recoil and rattle around in its housing if you try to put the car into gear with a quick flick of the wrist. 

For something that will be used so often by the driver, that’s a peculiar oversight in a car in which such trouble has plainly been taken elsewhere to boost perceived quality.

Our testers weren’t universally impressed by the amount of cabin space on offer, either. Our tape measure revealed that the smaller Clio offers 40mm more maximum head room than its larger sibling, although neither feels under-provisioned for it. 

The sunroof fitted to our test car was partly responsible for this deficit, and would be worth avoiding if you’re catering for taller occupants. For the facelifted model, this comes as standard in Esprit Alpine trim.

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