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 runs Renault’s latest OpenR Link infotainment platform, bringing a raft of new connectivity functions and wireless smartphone mirroring as standard. 

It’s 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 and its bright and clear display makes map reading from the integrated Google Maps a doddle. Physical volume buttons can also be found on the top of the screen, which is a nice touch.

Downsides come in the form of 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. The fact the climate controls are not in the screen itself is a big plus.

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 that 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.

The amount of cabin space in the Captur remains some distance of the class leaders. 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.

Yet, in the Techno trim, which didn’t feature a sunroof, that lack of headspace was still prevalent, mainly down to the seats not allowing a low-enough seating position for our six-foot tester. During normal situations, this didn’t translate into any major issues, except that some traffic lights can be obscured.

The car’s second row is big enough for taller adults – but only just. Even with the Captur’s sliding rear bench pushed all the way back (it can slide 160cm) , there’s still only 680mm of leg room to be found, while head room is a pretty average 920mm. Admittedly, that’s more than you will find in the Clio; and the car’s raised hip point is not to be forgotten when accounting for ease of entry and exit. But when a humble Volkswagen Polo can conjure 950mm of head room and 690mm of leg room, the loftier Captur’s efforts are made to look no better than respectable.

Still, there are at least plenty of useful storage bins and trays dotted around the place. The facelifted car’s upgraded multi-layered console that protrudes from the dash is particularly useful, offering a wireless charging pad and lots of space to stash wallets, phones and keys. Compared to the previous car, there are a couple of additional cubbies, albeit only large enough for phones.

Boot space, meanwhile, stands at an impressive 484 litres with the back seats in their rearmost position; 616 litres when they are slid forward; and 1275 litres when folded flat

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