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Driven: Renault Captur finally joins baby SUV stoush

Finally captured: Renault is spending big to push its pint-sized high-rider in Australia.

Nearly two years after Euro debut Renault counts on Captur to bolster bottom line

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Renault logo5 Feb 2015

By TIM ROBSON

RENAULT Australia is pinning the hopes of its continued local resurgence squarely on the flanks of its newest addition, the sub-compact SUV-sized Captur.

Arriving more than 600 days after it went on sale in Europe, delays in meeting Australian Design Rule (ADR) requirements kept pushing the Captur – which sold 196,000 units worldwide in 2014 – out of its allocated build slots in Renault’s Vallodolid factory in Spain, and consequently keeping it out of Australian showrooms.

Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told GoAuto that the supply issues had been resolved and the local allocation was secure.

“We’ve spoken about the challenges of supply previously, and that was a problem, but it’s not a problem for us going forward,” he said. “We don’t exactly have a huge abundance of production capability, but we’ve got good supply.”

Delays related to the requirement for additional top harness mounts to complement the Captur’s pair of Isofix child-restraint points.

Renault Australia recorded its first-ever annual sales figure of more than 10,000 cars in the company’s history last year, thanks in part to strong sales for the gen-four Clio and a boom year for its light-commercial vehicle division. It holds exactly one percent of Australian automotive market share.

“This is an incredibly important launch for us,” said Mr Hocevar. “We’re investing more in this model launch than ever before.

Mr Hocevar predicted that the Captur would outsell its platform-donating sibling after just a year on sale.

“In the first year, it will come below Clio, but we think it will quickly come to challenge Clio in volume, with the way that we’ve priced and specified the vehicle.

“We think it’ll [initially sell] in the vicinity of 150 a month.” The front-wheel-drive Captur will be offered with two engines – the 90 and the 120 – and in two grades, Expression and Dynamique.

The entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine is offered only in Expression, with a five-speed manual gearbox as the transmission option, while the 1.2-litre four-cylinder TCe 120 will be offered in both Expression and Dynamique trim.

The larger engine will only be available with a Getrag-sourced six-speed dual-clutch transmission with a sequential override, but no shift paddles.

Mr Hocevar said that a diesel version would not be offered, citing low take-up rates in the compact SUV segment.

“We looked long and hard at diesel before bringing the Captur to market,” he said. “It’s fair to say that there’s not a lot of diesel uptake in this particular segment, and there’s not a lot of diesel activity in B-segment hatch, either.

“Given that we’ve got such fuel-efficient petrol engines with such low emissions, we felt very confident staying with petrol.”

The Captur is a late entrant into an already-crowded compact-SUV field that already includes Ford’s EcoSport, the Holden Trax, Peugeot’s 2008 and the Captur's relation by marriage, the Nissan Juke.

Mazda's CX-3 and the Honda HR-V will soon join it, with Citroen’s C4 Catcus and others also on the horizon.

Priced from $22,990, plus on-road costs for the manual-only 0.9-litre Expression, the automatic 1.2-litre Expression jumps to $25,990, while the range-topping Dynamique will retail for $27,990 plus on-road costs.

The Captur scored five stars in Euro NCAP testing. While ANCAP said in 2013 that the car could not score five stars in Australia because of a lack of rear curtain airbags, changes implemented on January 1 means that the car can now qualify for a five-star assessment here, albeit with a ‘2013’ annotation affixed to it.

“This is an indication that the requirements against which this vehicle was assessed were not as stringent as those of today,” ANCAP communications manager Rhianne Robson told GoAuto.

Based on the Clio platform, the five-door Captur is only 10mm longer than its hatch sibling. It is 4122mm long and 1566mm high, with an overall width of 1778mm. Its 2606mm wheelbase is marginally longer than that of the Clio, and front and rear track measurements are slightly wider, as well. In its base configuration, it weighs 1134kg, jumping to 1215kg in auto form.

Internally, a sliding rear bench seat that moves 160mm gives back-seat passengers more legroom. Alternatively, the load space features a ‘false floor’ boot cover that can be removed to increase the depth of the load area.

Luggage capacity ranges from 377 to 455 litres, and rises to 1235 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The seats themselves feature zip-off washable neoprene covers – they are optional on the Expression and standard on the Dynamique.

Standard features include a high-definition reversing camera, rear parking sensors, an 7.0-inch touchscreen-based infotainment system with satellite navigation, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights and Renault’s ‘smart card’ keyless entry system.

Renault is also offering optional external and internal trim packs in various contrasting colours. A recoloured roof and various external garnishes are complemented by coloured internal trim pieces.

The Expression comes with 16-inch alloys fitted with Michelin Energy Saver tyres, while the Dynamique scores 17-inch wheels shod with Continental’s ContiEco Contacts.

The Dynamique’s upgrades include a factory-painted alternate-colour roof, 17-inch alloys, a more accomplished infotainment system and the zip-off seat cover system as standard.

Mechanically, Renault’s Energy TCe 90 turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine makes 66kW at 5250rpm, and 135Nm at 2500rpm. It returns 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and sports a 45-litre fuel tank.

The TCe 120, meanwhile, is an 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine that makes 88kW at 4900rpm and 190Nm at 2000rpm.

It returns 5.4 litres/100km.

Both variants feature the same MacPherson strut/Torsen beam suspension layout, with a spring and damper tune lifted from the Europe-only Clio Estate. Brakes are vented discs up front with finned drums at the rear.

Renault Captur pricing*
Expression$22,990
Expression (a)$25,990
Dynamique (a)$27,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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