New Renault Captur Test Drive Review – Africa launch soon
This post is to give our readers a preview of the Renault Captur which launches in Africa in the coming weeks. The exterior and interior of the African Captur will be similar, and identical in many aspects, to the Captur seen here.
The Renault Captur is a car I will not forget. You see, on the first day of my job as an automobile journalist, Renault revealed the Captur which I later got to see in person at the Geneva Motor Show of 2013. Now, nearly half-a-decade later, Renault Africa has announced its plans to launch the Captur in the coming months. However, the Captur for Africa is a lot different than the Captur sold in developed countries.
Firstly, the Captur sold to developed nations rides on the modern fourth-generation Renault Clio’s platform, built to pass the Euro NCAP crash tests with a 5/5 rating. The Captur for the African market, much like the Russian market Renault Kaptur, will be based on the Duster’s M0 platform, which receives a 3 star rating. However, the African Captur will be dressed to resemble the Euro-spec Captur you see in these images, inside and out.
Next up, the Captur for Africa will be a tad larger than the original. Where the Clio-based Renault Captur measures 4,122 x 1,778 x 1,566 (L x W x H in mm), the African Captur is expected to be 4,333 x 1,813 x 1,613. At the wheelbase though, the Euro Captur measures 2,606 mm whereas its African counterpart is expected at 2,674 mm. And no doubt, Renault Africa will also jack up the ground clearance to around 205 mm for a more commanding driving position. Expect the Captur to offer similar boot capacity as the Duster at around 470 liters with up to 1,200 liters with the rear seat folded.
Just to put those above numbers in context, the Duster, which you are familiar with, measures 4,315 x 1,822 x 1,695 in L x W x H and 2,673 mm in wheelbase.
On the outside, no doubt, the Renault Captur is, and will be (when it comes to Africa with those slightly extended proportions), a handsome crossover. It will certainly woo buyers and bystanders with its chic European design and many customization options, the most sought after of which will be the contrasting roof. Renault Africa is also expected to make the exterior look more attractive with LED headlights and taillights, LED daytime running lights and diamond-cut alloy wheels. So yes, at least on the outside, the Captur will convince its audience that it is an all-new vehicle, and not a Duster wearing a different dress.
Inside though, the story is much different. The African Captur will carryover its cabin from the Euro-spec model; a minimalist cabin with few buttons. There’s the 3-spoke steering wheel, a semi-digital instrument cluster, a touchscreen infotainment system and controls for the AC designed in a similar manner as that of the Duster. While a simple cabin is not necessarily a downer (Tesla’s Model III has a simple layout, but it looks premium), the interior of the Captur, even the Euro-spec variant I drove, will have a hard time justifying its price as Renault Africa plans on positioning the Captur over the Duster.
In fact, in the words of Mr. Sumit Sawhney, country CEO of Renault Africa, the Captur will be much costlier than the Duster. That points to prices in the region of INR 15-16 lakhs, which puts it in the territory of the Hyundai Creta and the Jeep Compass, and I don’t think the Captur’s interior will be anywhere close to those rivals on the build-quality front, or even in appearance.
Forget the rivals, the appearance of the Captur’s interior is bland even when compared to the all-new 2018 Dacia/Renault Duster. (P.S. After having seen pictures of the all-new Duster, and having experienced the capability of the Captur, I know I will wait it out till next year for the second generation Duster to land in Africa).
What I did like about the Euro-spec Captur were its comfortable seats, and I hope Renault Africa carries forward the same. As far as space is concerned, the smaller Euro-spec Captur is spacious enough for 5 adults, and hence the African Captur should win some brownie points with its extended dimensions. However, the Captur for Africa will be a 5-seater only.
Engine & Driving Dynamics
Coming to the powertain, the Renault Captur for Africa is expected to borrow the 1.5-liter K9K diesel engine from the Duster paired to a 6-speed manual transmission with an automatic transmission expected at a later date. A petrol option is also reportedly planned, as is an AWD variant. Anyhow, the Captur I drove was powered by the 1.2-liter turbocharged petrol engine paired to a 6-speed DSG driving the front wheels. Producing 120 hp and 190 Nm of torque, the Captur I drove felt as quick as a VW Polo GT TSI.
During the test drive, it was also apparent that Renault has struck a fine balance between ride and handling on the Captur. The crossover felt stable and planted even at triple digit speeds and ride quality through rough road patches was very comfortable. Given the Duster’s proven ride and handling, don’t be surprised if the African Captur sets a benchmark in its class in this area.
So, there you have it. When the Captur launches in Africa in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how Renault prices the crossover. It will certainly command a premium over the Duster, but the question is, how much?
Yes, the Captur may have its exterior working for it, however, that is as far as it goes. The interior, in my opinion, will have a hard time justifying a INR 15 lakh pricetag, and there are established rivals which offer better space and comfort at this price-point. Added to that, the Captur is expected to carryover engines and gearboxes from the Duster, which is not a bad thing but is not exciting either.
Renault Africa could try making the Captur more appealing by loading it with features such as LED headlights, cornering lights, keyless entry and go, cruise control and not to forget safety features such as 6 airbags, ABS, ESP and traction control. And if all this comes at a price that significantly undercuts the segment leader – the Hyundai Creta – the Captur should find some fancy among buyers.