A French HR-V Contender - Renault Captur 2017 Review
Engine: 1.2 L Turbocharged I4
Drive train: Front Wheel Drive
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
Price (Brand New in 2017): ~RM109,000
Looks like we have our second French car on Cars of Malaysia. This is the Renault Captur and we just rented it for a couple of hours this weekend because there was a promotion on Gocar. First impression? I think it looks funky as hell. Who did this two-tone thing first? Mini? Some Cadillacs maybe? Even the Kelisa and Myvi did this. You might like it. I don’t.
The Captur is a small crossover. It is a body type that I am personally not a fan of, but the market seems to like it. You’ve got the Honda HR-V, the Toyota C-HR (coming soon to Malaysia), the BMW X1, and now the Renault Captur. They are basically jacked up hatchbacks without any real off-road capabilities. My idea of a small crossover SUV would be a Suzuki Jimny, a Pajero Mini, or a small Land Cruiser - Small adorable SUVs with tiny wheelbases.
So I watched some European Captur ads on Youtube to get a feel of what Renault wants the Captur to be and it’s really just a load of lifestyle stuff. Capturing memories, enjoying life, living life to the fullest, and some more YOLO stuff. It’s basically just an urban car for the youth. But that is unlikely to happen in Malaysia.
The first French (-ish) car we drove was the Naza 206 (basically a Peugeot 206 with tiptronic) and we get to see some similarities here. First thing is the hood/bonnet lever. Since the car is originally built to be left-hand drive, the lever will be on your passenger side. We’re just highlighting this so that in case you buy a Frenchie, you don’t have to go frantically searching for the lever in case of an emergency.
There it is. Right by your feet.
You also get this special stalk beneath your windscreen wiper stalk for the audio control. We had this in the Naza 206 as well. You could change radio stations and adjust the volume with your index finger, middle finger or ring finger while keeping your hands on the steering wheel. I tried fiddling with the steering wheel controls but they were all meant for the cruise control.
Something we only found in French cars so far
You also get daytime running lights which is something we don’t really bother with in the ASEAN region. Why do we have daytime running lights? In some countries, it is the law to have your headlights on every time you drive. Usually countries with terrible weather (Europe and not forgetting the United Kingdom). Apparently, it improves your visibility of the road and other drivers’ visibility of you. Hence, daytime running lights. Some Japanese cars also have this feature.
What is it like to Drive?
As usual, I test a car without studying the specifications before driving so that we get a purer first impression or first driving experience. For a car this size I never expected it to be powered by a 1.2 litre turbocharged engine. You can’t even hear the turbo whistling. It actually felt quick and had good response. We even managed to hit around 156km/h on the highway but it sounded rather strenuous on the engine.
I’ve driven a HR-V before and the Captur feels very similar in terms of driving experience. They just feel like jacked up hatchbacks. That is all there is to it. Yes, they are quicker than my own Proton Persona and the interiors are decent (although the Captur does try a bit too hard with the shiny black plastic on the steering wheel), but it feels bland and unexciting. I don’t mean that in a derogatory manner for the Captur or the HR-V. It’s just that the features in these cars are similar to what you would get in any other new car anyway. I think most of the time you really are just paying for the looks or brand. And in terms of functionality, these are just as functional as hatchbacks, only slightly taller and with a bigger boot space. There’s not even that great of a ground clearance.
Those things aside, I’ll give some points for the 1.2 litre turbocharged engine. I find it impressive. 1.2 litres is pretty small for a car like this. That’s smaller than a Myvi’s engine. Small engine swept volume equals less tax in Malaysia so plus point maybe? The HR-V is powered by a 1.8 litre NA Engine which is significantly larger. We don’t tax turbochargers so lower tax rates for the Captur.
However, I imagine that if you’re already paying RM109,000 for a chic runabout car, you couldn’t care less about lower tax rates. Who would drive this? Asian wives of white expatriates perhaps. Or tiger moms. Or a slightly senior female corporate executive/manager with some money in the bank. I’ve just never met a guy who said he wants a Renault Captur.
Drive is good and responsive. Steering is decent. Quite comfortable through bumpy roads. I didn’t drive very economically and ended up with 8.6L/100km or 11.6km/l. It comes with a reverse camera, side sensors, cruise control, and a rather massive glovebox.
More Features for you to see
Butterfly like gauges. Wow.
A pretty deep glovebox
Another compartment! For sunglasses maybe?
Strange pocket nets for your rear passenger. I don’t think it could hold much stuff
The air cond vent flaps are quite hard to use. Would be better with a knob
The push start button is by your left knee. At least it’s more visible than the one in the Mazda 2.
Pneumatic hinges for your bonnet
A plastic hood lock release. If you’re not careful, this could break. And in case of a frontal collision, it would just snap. You can’t just hammer it back into shape.
The fuel cap cover doesn’t have a lock. Very different from the Peugeot 206 that needed you to use your keys.
Funky looking removable seat covers.
Seriously, they’re removable
I suspect the big unit behind your rear view mirror houses the rain sensor. Your wipers will change speed depending on the intensity of the rain. Sometimes, it doesn’t know how to chill. I don’t expect this to work so well after a few years.
It’s just a fancy runabout car if you have the budget for it. There is absolutely nothing sporty about the Captur. They claim it sells well in Europe but I have a feeling it will be quite tough for Tan Chong Euro Cars to sell these in Malaysia. Good luck nonetheless.