Speaking at the international launch of the Captur this week in Biarritz, France, deputy program director Christophe Pejout (front right of picture below) confessed that Australia would have to wait around a year for the Captur only because it wasn’t first designed with our market in mind.
The idea of a Clio-based sub-compact SUV was first conceived in 2009, but the previous management of Renault Australia didn’t show initial interest in a car that in Europe would essentially replace the Modus mini-MPV.
When the concept drawings of the Captur were shown to Australian management – which was overhauled in late 2010 with a new line-up of executives – it was too late to incorporate specific Australian Design Rules (ADR) requirements into the program. They are now being developed.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar is vocal in his view that many ADRs are unneccessary changes to European standards, delaying the local arrival of the much-needed entry into the thriving sub-compact SUV segment.
“Product planning challenges caused by Australian Design Rules not deeming a European standard as acceptable can result in frustrating delays when bringing new vehicles to the Australian market,” commented the local boss.
Mimicing the decision to import a petrol-only range of Clio hatchbacks starting from August, the Captur when it arrives here in the first half of next year will also be only offered with two petrol drivetrains – a 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder with five-speed manual transmission and 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder with six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Renault Australia corporate communications manager Emily Ambrosy said the decision to pass on the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine was due to the fact that diesel engines aren’t popular in small cars.
“In bringing Clio and Captur we’ve studied the light car segment and due to the lack of popularity and take-up of diesel engines we’ve made the decision to launch only with petrol,” said Ambrosy.
“The petrol engines available in Clio and Captur are new generation and incredibly fuel efficient, which addresses one of the reasons customers have traditionally looked at diesel engines," she added.
“Diesel engines also traditionally have a price premium and given the similar fuel consumption and price at the pump for petrol and diesel, we don’t believe that we would have a high take-up of diesel if we were to introduce it.”
Three trim levels will be available in Oz, with the base Captur likely to offer the smaller engine with the larger engine optional, and the four-cylinder standard on the two higher grades.