Renault’s recently updated Captur range now includes a compelling new entry-level offering…
Two years into its local lifecycle, the quirky Renault Captur continues to make the most of its chic, Clio-based styling, sought-after raised ride height and relative value. It has confirmed its stature as a worthy contender in the ever-popular light-crossover segment.
Not resting on its laurels, though, and keen to build on the success of this important model, Renault South Africa has used a mild refresh to introduce a compelling new entry-level variant. It is one aimed at (cough) capturing the attention of buyers who may not have had the budget to afford this French offering.
While the popular Dacia- derived Sandero Stepway wears its adopted Renault badge with pride, providing buyers with an honest, well-built and relatively well-specced “bumped-up” experience, the Captur, with its inherent French flair, represents a more palpable entry-point to the best of what the Renault brand has to offer.
Yes, it’s a little disappointing that the characterful dual-tone colour scheme synonymous with this model is not available on this entry-level Blaze specification, but the rest of the package, with its sharper new bumper and head- lamp treatment, 16-inch alloy wheels and colour-coded handles (mirrors remain black), largely mimics the more upscale Captur derivatives. Distinctive C-shaped LED daytime-running lights are now fitted throughout.
Matching the transformative effect those light have on the exterior, inside the chrome-look trim highlights on the centre-console and door panels lift a cabin that without them appears quite sombre. While hard plastics abound (although the dashboard top now incorporates soft-touch surfacing), an overriding sense of durability and carefully considered ergonomics add welcome levels of charm to the interior packaging. Standard features include height adjustment on the cloth-covered driver’s seat, electric windows, air-conditioning, auto headlamps and wipers, cruise control and a comprehensive audio system that includes Bluetooth functionality.
Here we applaud Renault for the neat execution of a smartphone cradle that mounts directly to the audio system’s face, conveniently allowing you to use the phone’s navigation apps. While a cover for this mounting point (it doubles as a second USB port) is supplied, you can also safely stow your mobile phone in the rubberised (and covered) storage bin atop the facia.
Other clever packaging ideas come in the form of a second-row bench that slides in order to increase either legroom or luggage space, as well as a boot board that hides additional packing space beneath it.
As the name suggests, the Captur 66 kW Turbo Blaze is powered by Renault’s familiar turbocharged 898 cm3 engine mated with a five-speed manual transmission. While this remains a powertrain reliant on optimal revs, and thus fairly regular gear changes in order to deliver peak performance, increasing familiarity with this impressively refined three-cylinder engine will see owners anticipating overtaking manoeuvres, as well as changing down to a lower ratio before a steady incline rather than once on it. This is helped by the relatively slick (though not class-leading) workings of the transmission, as well as the Captur’s light 1 204 kg overall mass. We’re willing to bet most owners will relish rather then begrudge piloting this otherwise feisty proposition round town.
As with other similarly downsized, force-fed packages, the penalty for maintaining meaningful forward progress is corresponding fuel consumption figures some way off its respective maker’s claims. That said, we recorded a decent real-world figure of 7,2 L/100 km on our fuel run (Renault claims 5,4). Once up to speed, there’s little not to like about the Captur Blaze. Those smart-looking 16-inch alloy wheels with their plump 60-profile tyres deliver an impressively compliant ride over most surfaces, while Clio-derived underpinnings bring an admirable level of dynamic ability and steering precision to the party.
Standard safety features include ABS braking (with EBD and brake assist), ESC stability control, a total of four airbags and three Isofix child-seat mounting points (the third one on the front-passenger seat). They’re all impressive inclusions at this relatively modest price point.
Hats off to Renault South Africa for seizing the moment in terms of enhancing its current Captur range and introducing an entry point into this impressive line-up. This Blaze derivative provides a tempting trade-up option for current Sandero Stepway owners, as well as being a difficult-to-ignore prospect for both first-time buyers and parents keen to see their freshly independent loved one behind the wheel of something safe, yet still possessing chic styling.
In our March 2017 Top 12 Best Buys awards feature, we listed the Captur range as “worth considering”, with the anticipated facelifted Renault Captur one to look out for. In 2016, it performed even better and was awarded a runner-up prize. Considering the subtle yet effective changes made to this range, as well as the impressive value offered by the Blaze, the 2018 voting could once again secure Renault a place on the podium.
*From the December 2017 issue of CAR magazine