It’s rare nowadays to find a vehicle that can be kindly described as loathed by automotive writers. Technology in the form of entertainment, engine management, transmission variants, and the like, means cars drive, perform, cosset, and are generally regarded as nothing less than good.Then there’s the revamped for 2018 Renault Captur. The Intens is the range topper and is fitted with digital radio, a turbocharged three cylinder, and dual clutch auto. Sounds good so far. But, the gap between expectations and reality for this particular vehicle is Grand Canyon sized. Priced from $22,000 to $31,590, it’s got a lot to live up to.The Captur comes with a choice of two engines and neither are what could be considered…big. There’s a 0.9L or, in the case of the Intens, a turboed 1.2L, with power and torque to match the relatively tiny motor. Peak power of 88 kW arrives at 4900 rpm, with peak twist of 190 torques at 2000 rpm. Thanks to the small size of the car itself, it’s good enough to see just on eleven seconds for the 0 to 100 kph stretch.Because it’s such a small body at just 4122 mm in length and a wheelbase of 2606 mm, the fuel thimble holds just 45 litres of 95 or 98 RON. Renault quotes a combined figure of 5.8L per 100 kilometres. AWT lobbed at 7.0L/100 km with a more non-suburban drive. Power and torque hit the tarmac via the front wheels only. Also, also ostensibly resembling a SUV, it’s not intended to go off-road.
Transmission: dual clutch autos are pretty good once a vehicle is in motion. It’s the getting from stopped to going that is the issue and the Captur Intens is no different. There’s no quick engagement of drive from Park to Drive, or Reverse to Drive and vice versa. In Drive and at a standstill, there’s easily a second before the clutches engage and that’s time enough for oncoming vehicles that were a safe distance away to not be. There’s a dial in the centre console that offers three drive modes, one of which is Expert. It didn’t appear to change the feel of the Intens at all.The interior: flat, slabby looking, hard to the touch, black plastics mix with a 1980s style monochrome dash display, truly odd button placement, and wasted design opportunities imbue a sense of WTF in driver and passenger. For example, the dial on the centre air vents didn’t move the louvres for better airflow, it closed them The small centrally mounted touchscreen also hails from the last decade and, as the radio (DAB through the optional Bose sound system) and map shared space on screen, had a Home button that was ineffective, and looked like an attempt at high tech in a low budget sci-fi movie, utterly failed to visually appeal.Even the aircon had a quirk, with a button marked aircon off, with the end result presumably meaning the aircon is on all of the time otherwise. Safety? If you want more than four airbags, flashing brake lights in an emergency stop, and Blind Spot Warning then this is not the car for you.
The cruise control switch is mounted in the centre console and isn’t a particularly noticeable one at that thanks to being the size of a thumbnail. The steering wheel has a tab for cruise control speed changes on one arm and the on/off on the other. Audio controls are hidden from view by being built into a solid block behind the tiller’s right arm.The otherwise comfortable and leather covered seats offered heating, not cooling (seriously what will it take for Aussie spec cars to get this?) with the miniscule buttons to operate found on the outer section of the front seat section. They were also lever adjusted, a disappointment for a range topper where electric should be the norm. Also there’s enough room for the front seat passengers to stretch the legs and not quite so for the rear seat. And such is the design that if you aim for three in the rear, that may be stretching friendships.The lower front section of the console houses a small bin and both a 12V & USB socket. The Intens is push button for Start/Stop, and the fob is credit card size in length and width, close to a half centimetre in thickness, and has a slot in the console for it for no discernible reason. Well, there was one. Every time AWT exited the Intens and walked just a couple of metres away, the car would lock, regardless of whether the windows were open or not, and browsing the user manual offered no joy. If left in the slot you could walk away knowing the car wouldn’t lock. But the key’s in the car….Thanks again to the overall small size of the Captur, the rear cargo space looks like it would hold two bags of shopping, however the parcel shelf lifts to offer an extra amount of space. Otherwise, it’s 377 litres which expands to 1235 when the seats are folded.Outside: here, the Captur has a shining light. It’s pretty, with a svelte look in its curves from front to rear and roof to wheels. Headlights are LED, there’s a pair of globe cornering lamps, and nicely integrated tail lamps. The test car came in a black over white colour scheme, with the sills a black as well to balance it out. It’s a family design, with the Koleos and Clio sporting the same elegantly curbed look.Out on the road the handling is predictable, with a slight tendency to understeer on the 205/55/17 Kumho rubber, but needs constant attention to alleviate a preference for wandering. Otherwise, it’s well mannered enough to be considered the highlight of the Captur Intens. Considered. The rear end feels too soft compared to the front, the lack of usable torque means overtaking is not going to happen and the whole feel of the suspension feels tuned more for plush than a bent for enthusiasm.However, Renault do offer a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, a huge five years roadside assistance package, and capped price servicing for the first three scheduled services.
At The End Of The Drive.
It’s a genuine rarity that AWT hands back a vehicle with the sense of relief as felt with the Renault Captur Intens. It’s the automotive equivalent of a good looking politician. Looks fantastic, has the substance of a soap bubble. The gearbox, lack-lustre engine, needlessly quirky design features, lack of safety, and $32K price thanks to the Bose audio, simply don’t do enough to put forward a convincing argument to park this one in the drive.