The much-awaited Renault Captur compact SUV has been unveiled, and I received my hands on it for a drive in lush green Goa. This allowed me a mix of tight and narrow country roads, spurts of thick traffic, winding hilly bits and yes — rough broken roads too. The oil burner is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox while the gas comes with a 5-speed. (But I will get to this point later.)

But if any one of that premium positioning talk sounds familiar, it’s because a similar pitch was made with all the Duster — Renault’s best selling car that the Captur shares the M0 platform with. Unlike the Captur sold in Europe this is a bigger car, and yes while it is so similar to the Brazilian and Russian one, ours is a lot more upmarket. And that is intentional says Renault because it is trying to position the car a bit differently here. The main reason is that it believes that is where the Indian consumer is going, and also to keep a distinct differentiation between the Duster and this car. So it is only in India that Renault will market the car in a top end Platine variant. Well, Renault thinks that Captur will be easier to announce in India. In a marketplace with goods like KUV — where K stands for ‘Kool’, I don’t think Kaptur would’ve been a stretch! Go figure! Renault also says it is to follow the worldwide naming mandate for this model family. Therefore, it would appear Renault Russia went rogue didn’t it? Or maybe it was just a cultural thing. Let’s leave it at that!

The Captur Platine is exactly what I drove too, and it gets everything you can possibly think of — including specially designed quilted leatherette chairs — much like a premium manufacturer model could have. The top spec gets LED headlights as well as the roofing is a contrast two-tone finish.

The LED daytime running lights, floating front indicators (a la Audi), black cladding, 17″ alloys, ‘ripple effect’ taillights as well as security features like dual airbags, ABS and EBD are standard. Isofix child seat restraints are too, I must add.

The Renault Captur gets LED DRLs

The driver-side chair is manually height adjustable — but sits almost too tall — I found that the lowest position felt like it was completely raised — so never mind the highest! So Renault needs to take heed and possibly rework the height of the front chairs. The central console and AC vents are finished with a ‘gold and white’ bezel — that to me looked more bronze and chrome! This is only in the top spec. The console houses a touch display with audio and navigation — much like the one found in the Duster, Lodgy, and even the Kwid. The interface is also similar, and there is not any Apple CarPlay or Android Auto sadly. Renault India says it’s working on bringing people to its cars soon. The car syncs with your phone via Bluetooth anyway though and for music alone, the USB plugin will do just fine. The steering has controls for the phone etc., but for audio you have to get into the stack behind the steering — like in the Duster and previous Renaults. It works fine but requires some getting used to.

The Renault Captur comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Rear legroom is not cavernous, but you will not be terribly disappointed either. Knee room is good, however, and there’s a rear AC port (recirculation lover like in the Scala/Duster). I think if Renault gives us ‘killer’ pricing then the deficiency of generous space could possibly be forgiven quite easily (just think Compass!) . The seat back though is extremely comfortable and the extra ride height also has you sitting higher, giving you great knee angle and also under-thigh support. Renault says it has spent extra on making the Indian version’s seats more comfy! It shows. Boot space is 392 litres and with the second row folded down that extends to 1352 litres. That is a charging point just behind the rear seat on the left side — that is easily accessible as it sits high alongside the parcel tray.

We only got to drive the diesel version of this Captur

Lright then, lets get to the drive will we? Let me remind you I am just testing the diesel today. The K9K cube is all too familiar, and by that I mean literally so! It behaves and performs nearly exactly as its state of song in the Duster The specs are pretty much identical. So the good news is that you will not have any surprises on the car. Its performs nearly identically too! The engine has lag at the lower end, and as soon as you get it past 2000 rpm it moves like a rocket. The mid range is great, and you will find the gearbox is well mated to it — just like (you guessed it!) The 6-speed is a fantastic choice as it creates the peak torque through to the brakes well. Peak torque kicks in below 1800 rpm and so you get good city traffic manoeuvrability too. The engine’s roar filters through to the cabin, however it is not disturbing or annoying. Its healthy and guttural, and the car sounds prepared for action. Overall the noise damping is far better than that on the Duster though. And that is the main difference — its like they took all the good bits on the Duster and just gave it an added layer of refinement. Considering that the Duster’s success and popularity that’s not a bad thing now is it? Of course once you choose this route, do not forget that the bits which were lacking on the Duster have come along for the ride too. This is in regard to performance and dynamics naturally. On interiors and overall materials and finish the Captur is definitely ahead.

Handling is surprisingly good I have to say. I say surprisingly because I was worried that the rather generous 210 millimeter ground clearance would make it wobbly or top-heavy feeling. It is neither. The car takes corners nicely, though I would not go as far as to call it rather sporty. Again — think Duster! Therefore it holds an intended line, and the steering is properly stiff with adequate feedback. The ride quality is also sorted and the suspension setup is indeed like the Duster’s. So it’s a supple ride, with the capability of swallowing up mainly anything. But the Captur does not get AWD, as Renault believes the purchaser in this space isn’t really looking to go off-roading. And if they’re then the Duster is your option for them anyway. However, the car handled it very well. Now the ground clearance certainly helped! Renault says that of all the Captur iterations worldwide, the India spec gets the highest clearance. 5mm higher than Russia’s Kaptur, and our Duster!

The Indian version Captur gets the highest ground clearance of 210 mm

On the one hand Renault says this car is for the sophisticated, the upwardly mobile urbanite who does not need 4X4. On the other it doesn’t offer the exact same customer an automatic option! Nope, that doesn’t add up. You find the M0 platform with the diesel K9K isn’t provided with an autobox on some of its product lines. The Europe did not take a automatic (Dacia) Duster diesel, recall? That is why Renault went in because of its own homegrown AMT about the diesel Duster in India. And an AMT would certainly not function with the whole premium positioning of this Captur, now do it? Input the CVT on the gas side — and there I hold out hope that Renault will launch the CVT Captur shortly enough. With around 30 per cent of the Rs 10-18 lakh marketplace going towards automatics, Renault cannot afford to have no offering for that buyer collection. Food for thought then for the French company.

The Captur will be a premium offering from Renault in India

So on the whole is the Captur a welcome addition to the market? Yes most certainly. It is stylish, provides unique style and is unlike any other product in lots of ways. The simple fact that Renault is going to town with personalization options is also great. These span everything from excessive (!)) Chrome add-ons to theme-based stickers, even a range of roof wraps and a trendy chrome embellishment for the front grille (kind of reminds me of the A-Class’ diamond grille). Now to the prices — which will simply be declared at start next month. While chatting with Sumit Sawhney, CEO at Renault India, I obtained this — The car will compete in the C-SUV space (compact SUV) which now sees products like Creta, Compass, etc.. And that segment works in the Rs 15 lakh price point. His words not mine! So infer what you will. All I know is that I would be quite surprised if Renault were to price the car at a premium. I anticipate very aggressive prices — because this is a Duster rival too after all- and will possibly see pricing in the Rs 12-15 lakh range. I really don’t anticipate too many variants either as Sumit promises that even the so called ‘base’ variant will have tons of equipment, as I too pointed out earlier. Is the space hotting up then? You bet! Assuming I am right about the prices — your move Maruti Suzuki (S-Cross facelift notwithstanding)! Dare I say the Vitara, infant?

Power103.8 bhp @ 5600 rpmPeak Torque142 Nm @ 4000 rpmTrnasmission5-Speed Manual

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