Believe it or not, the original Renault Captur is the best selling B-segment SUV in Europe. The new version, revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, is the second car based on Renault's new CMF-B platform after the new Clio which has enabled the brand to pack in more interior space and better integral strength, yet still lose weight along the way. The new Captur takes numerous design cues from the Clio, too, which is perhaps no surprise given that it is essentially a Clio on stilts.
Alongside a ground-up refresh, the Captur – like all Renaults from now on, including the Z.E. range – will come with the brand's all-new five-year warranty. As well as being upped from the previous three year deal, owners get unlimited mileage in the first two years of ownership with a 100,000 mile cap. This brings the French brand more in-line with rivals such as Hyundai.
So, let's address the elephant in the room first – why Renault is going down the PHEV route when it has some extremely compelling EVs and an advanced pure electric programme.
Well, with the Captur E-TECH Plug-in, Renault's watch-word is 'versatility'. It points to the popularity of the original car and the fact that it was often the only vehicle in the household – a jack of all trades, from a run down to the shops through to family holiday duties. With the new car Renault has eschewed the route many other manufacturers have gone down in combining powerful petrol engines with the easy power that electric motors generate to create pumped-up family wagons.
Renault actually went fully revolution-mode, stating “There was no question of creating some elitist version where the electric engine and battery power were geared towards performance”. Well sacré bleu – to the guillotine with anything producing over 200bhp!
They've followed through on this promise with the E-TECH powertrain which combines a very conventional but newly-developed 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor of so far unknown individual or combined power. A small 9.8kWh battery enables the car to travel for up to 28 miles and up to 83mph on electric only power.
These preliminary figures are very conservative, but there are advantages; the range is usable and the small battery should keep costs down. Not that we know what that cost will be, though expect it to breach the £20k mark.
In short, it's very Clio-y, which is no bad thing as the new Renault Clio is a fine looking car. The new Captur is 110mm longer and has a higher waistline to give it more of an SUV stance. Front and rear skid plates and chunky wheel arches also add to the off-road pretensions, but don't expect it to conquer anything more challenging than a damp field.
Standard across the range are LED headlamps which are framed by the brand's now trademark C-shape daytime running lights. Chrome also features heavily, being found in the window surrounds and grille. New exterior colours include Alabaster White, Highland Grey and Celadon Blue (with a total of 10 on offer) and the 'floating roof' can be specified in a contrasting colour if desired.
Another new car, and – as is a common theme nowadays – lo and behold it has a 'cockpit' rather than a driver's seating area. Renault's 'Smart Cockpit' follows the trend of having various controls and the 9.3-inch EASY LINK infotainment screen angled towards the driver – like Ford did with the Sierra in the 80s, only minus the infotainment screen bit.
Jesting aside, the new Captur is loaded with soft-touch materials to help elevate the feel inside and it comes loaded with a decent level of kit. A 7-inch multimedia screen is standard on Play and Iconic spec cars (the two lower specs) while the S Edition gets a 9.3-inch portrait setup. Both provide access to Renault's EASY LINK connected system which builds in infotainment and navigation, as well as other vehicle control options. Apple CarPlay and Android auto are standard, as is DAB, USB, aux and Bluetooth connectivity.
In terms of interior space, well there's more of it. Rear legroom is 17mm up on the previous car and the boot is a whopping 81 litres larger, with a total capacity of 536 litres. The rear bench slides 160mm fore or aft and can be folded in a 1/3, 2/3 or totally flat pattern making the rear space flexible. When you're not busy playing with the rear seats there's ambient lighting with a choice of eight colours to really 'Captur' the mood...
Renault has a long-standing reputation for making extremely safe cars and the new Captur is no different, claiming all five of the available stars in the Euro NCAP test. As standard the car comes with lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition with speed alert, cruise with speed limiter and an emergency braking system.
The New Captur is available to order now with deliveries starting in March 2020.
As well as Renault's two-pronged warranty and new Captur, Peugeot has announced that its PHEV models will benefit company car drivers when the revised BIK rates come in on April 6. For the 508 HYBRID, for example, a newly registered car in the 2019/2020 tax year would incur a 16 per cent BIK rate, however this will fall to 12 per cent in 2020/21 and stay there right through to 2022/23.
The reductions in BIK, which are being brought in to encourage company car drivers to go for low and zero emissions models, will mean that most PHEVs and all EVs, whether Peugeots or not, will benefit.