CarAdvice's national sales director Benn labels the Captur "easily the worst car I've ever driven" during its second month in the Sydney garage...
Literally moments after publishing my initial long-term report on our Renault Captur last month I could hear muttering from the opposite side of the office.
The source of this low-toned grumble was CarAdvice’s national sales director, Benn Sykes, who I’d handed the Captur’s key card to just a week earlier for him and his target demographic-nailing young, active family to spend some time in.
“A seven!” he exclaimed with bemusement and disgust in reaction to my overall score, in a voice soft enough to feign discreteness, but deliberately loud enough to ensure the words travelled to the editorial corner.
“It’s a five a best!”
Fair to say Benn’s first impressions of our $29,780-plus-on-road-costs Renault Captur Dynamique ($27,990 as standard; ours is optioned with two-tone metallic paint and the R-Link media system) had left him more than a little underwhelmed.
Indeed, over the coming days a running joke developed where the late-30s husband and father of one would report back to me on another aspect of the car he disliked, docking it a point each time until he’d culled its overall rating to a two out of 10 and labelled it “easily the worst car I’ve ever driven”. Never backwards in coming forwards, our Benno.
Why all the hate? The below, penned in a short email, captures a few of his early Captur criticisms:
- It takes a good three to five seconds (perhaps a slight exaggeration) to do anything when you put your foot down. For a city car it’s crazy – it should be zippy.
- The suspension is terrible and bouncy. I had three passengers in the back and one almost gave herself a concussion hitting the door frame when I turned a corner and hit a speed bump.
- The interior is low-rent. I’ve had numerous passengers comment on how bad it is.
- It’s supposed to be used for an “active” lifestyle, but it didn’t even fit my short surfboard.
- It only has one functional cup holder. The second, from what I can tell, is for a shot glass.
- The air conditioning vents won’t allow you to focus air on you (they don’t angle in a conventional sense). Fantastic for summer…
- There’s no indicator in the instrument cluster as to which side the filler cap is on.
- It’s not particularly fuel efficient.
- It has no rear airbags.
- The exterior looks good.
- The infotainment system is pretty cool, especially with the eco info you can get.
- Once up to speed it’s zippy enough – it just takes an age to get there.
He’s most critical of the Captur’s lack of curtain airbags to protect rear passengers – an omission that meant he wouldn’t drive the car with his nine-month-old son Archie on board.
He also said the laggy response from the Renault’s 88kW/190Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission made him feel unsafe when entering intersections from a standstill and when merging and plugging holes in traffic. Others in the office – including myself – have grown similarly weary of the Captur’s lack of low-speed response.
He admitted that, once up and running, the drivetrain was agreeable and up to the task of motivating the Captur’s 1215kg body and a couple of occupants, and conceded it makes much more sense once away from the stop-start conditions of the city.
Benn’s largely urban-centric month behind the wheel saw average fuel consumption climb to 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres – some 3.0L/100km higher than its combined-cycle claim.
On the plus side, our ad sales shark says the Captur’s good looks grew on him as the month went on.
“I was a big fan of the exterior design. In fact, I’d say it was its major redeeming feature. The overall look of the car – ride height, design and features – all blend together to make it an attractive little beast.”
Benn says the infotainment system is the highlight of the interior. Displaying through a 7.0-inch touchscreen, the system is colourful and has sharp, attractive graphics. It may not have a rotary dial like our favourite infotainment systems, but it’s reasonably intuitive to navigate through its menus and options.
Our Captur’s optional R-Link system gets a number of advanced features over the standard media unit, including handy real-time traffic information, weather forecasts, email and Twitter access, expanded eco driving data, and the ability to download apps from the R-Link Store. I’ve had particular fun with the R-Sound Effect app since taking the Captur back from Benn. Stay tuned for a detailed R-Link wrap in next month’s long-term update.
Benn also praised the Renault’s standard five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and roadside assistance coverage, and its decent capped-price servicing, which is capped at $299 per service (12 months/15,000km) for the first three trips to the dealership.
Those silver linings aren’t enough to distract Benn from the curtain airbag-shaped dark clouds surrounding planet Captur – not to mention the thunderstorm that is the laggy powertrain and wooden suspension.
Asked what small SUV he’d prefer if given the choice, Benn said the Honda HR-V was “a clear winner in the category” for him. And based on his criticisms of the Captur, it’s not hard to see why.
The HR-V feels solid and safe on the road, includes rear-protecting curtain airbags (and is available with other advanced safety features), has a more supple and compliant ride, delivers its power in a more linear fashion, and is more spacious and versatile inside.
So while not slicing its score to a five (or a two!) as recommended, we have knocked half a point off the Captur’s overall score this month, given its inability to meet the needs and expectations of a family positioned firmly within its target market.
Heading into the Renault Captur’s final month in the CarAdvice garage, I’m back in charge, and being a typical mid-20s bloke, am still putting off cleaning those removable seat covers as initially promised.
Tune in next month to see if I get around to doing the washing, as well as the complete wash-up from our three months with the Captur.
Renault Captur Dynamique
Date acquired: September 2015
Odometer reading: 3203km
Distance travelled this month: 758km
Fuel consumption: 8.4L/100km
Click the Photos tab for more images by Sam Venn.