Renault Captur: this plug-in hybrid offers function over thrills

Renault Captur
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Renault Captur is an affordable SUV option for those looking for an elevated driving position and roomier cabin over a traditional hatchback.

While the Captur starts at a reasonable £19,095, our interest lay with the plug-in hybrid model which we've driven here - and that starts at a higher price.

Opt for the E-tech plug-in hybrid 160 Auto powertrain over the solely petrol and diesel options, and the Captur's price rises to £30,995. The model we drove had a few optional extras included (upgraded paint and interior, and parking pack), which took the final price to £32,855.

Renault Captur design

We drove

Renault Captur

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Renault Captur S Edition E-Tech
: 1.6L / 9.8kWh
Power: 160bhp / 118kWh
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Electric Range: 29-31 miles
Price: £32,855 

Renault has harmonized its design across its range of cars, and the Captur sits nicely in the family. There's a modern, angular finish which allows it to blend into day-to-day traffic.

If it wasn't for the Desert Orange paint, the Captur wouldn't necessarily standout on its own - not that it really needs to, so this isn't an issue.

Getting into the Captur is easy enough thanks to the elevated ride-height afforded by SUVs, and once inside it means you get a good view of the road ahead.

The cabin is roomy enough for the front seat passengers, with enough head and legroom for the driver, and heated seats for both when it gets cold. Something which was slightly irksome though, was the height of the passenger seat.

It is set high, and there's no way to lower it, which makes things odd for taller passengers who are essentially looking at the top of the windshield/base of the roof, rather than through the middle of the glass. It gives the feeling that your head is in the roof.

You do get a two cup holders, a dedicated space to pop Renault's rather unique flat, rectangular key and a central armrest which lifts up reveal another small storage area.

There are also a couple of trays to chuck your phone, wallet and other pocket-sized items, with a lower tray hidden beneath the drive select also featuring a handy wireless phone charger.

In the back, and the rear-seat passengers have enough space for a comfortable journey - albeit not the most generous - although storage is more limited with the door pockets only capable of holding a bottle of drink.

Open the tailgate and you'll find a flat-load design which means you can easily slide items in and out without having to lift them over a ridge. We were, however, a little disappointed by the size of the boot considering this is a SUV, with it being on the shallow side.

Renault Captur drive and charging

The Renault Captur fulfills its duties as car when it comes to driving experience. It'll get you from A to B in relative comfort, and with little fuss - but it's unlikely to particularly excite.

With a 0-62mph time of 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 107mph it offers the average driver what they need without any extras. Switch from the default 'My Sense' mode to 'Sport' and responsive does get a little better, but you don't consider the Captur if you're looking for a sporty ride anyway.

The default My Sense mode allows the Renault Captur to decide when it uses the electric battery power and when to employ the petrol engine. However, you can turn on 'esave' which sees the petrol engine charge the battery (along with the energy generated from braking), allowing you to top it up while you're on the move.

Renault Captur

(Image credit: TechRadar)

However, if you'd rather focus on driving green, you can switch to 'Pure' which takes you into the Captur's EV mode where only the battery is used. 

As a plug-in hybrid you can take the Captur E-tech to a charging point to top up the battery, or even plug it into your home's 3-pin plug socket (although this charges very slowly).

Renault claims you'll get 29-31 miles of range on a full charge when driving in Pure mode, although we found this figure to be at the extreme of what's possible. We tended to average low to mid-20s on a single charge, but the more economically you drive, the longer you'll be able to push that electric power.

What this does provide is enough range for a run to the shops, or for many commutes, allowing you to significantly cut down on your petrol usage.

Renault Captur specs and tech

Renault Captur

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Renault Captur features a sizable 9.3-inch touchscreen display on its centre console, giving you access to the radio, navigation and various other features.

It's a relatively simple UI, which will suit those less accustomed to touchscreen displays in cars, with large buttons and an easy to learn interface. It isn't the quickest system we've used though, and there is a noticeable wait as you load up a particular feature. 

There's Bluetooth support, allowing you to connect your smartphone to the Captur's infotainment system which in turn lets you stream audio from your phone to the car's speakers and make and receive hands-free calls while driving.

However, you can get a more complete experience if you connect your handset to the car via a USB cable, which enables Apple CarPlay (for iPhone owners) or Android Auto (for Android owners).

These options mirror core smartphone apps (such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, Spotify, WhatsApp and more) on the Captur's display, giving you easy and quick access to them. It works well here, and we preferred using Android Auto over Renault's own, slightly sluggish, interface.

This isn't the only screen on show here though, as the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is also a digital display, showing you core driving data as well as navigation directions and what music you've currently got playing.

The Renault Captur comes with a bunch of tech and driving aids which are becoming common place in modern cars, including climate control, cruise control and lane assist, but there's also something that's a little more unique.

The Capture has a safe distance monitor which informs you, via a visual on the digital instrument cluster, whether you're following the car ahead at a safe distance. 

It's a relatively simple idea, but it's something that really made us aware of how close we were and led to us driving at a safer distance.

You also get a decent compliment of USB ports for charging devices with two in the front, and a further two accessible to rear seat passengers - which should keep everyone happy.

The Renault Captur offers function over thrills, and while that may not sound exciting, it's what many will be looking for in a compact SUV. There's a pleasing array of tech, enough USB port to keep passengers quiet and a couple of handy little features which offer something a little bit different.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.