One key question: would the new second-generation Renault Captur capture my heart — or those of thousands of families and potential buyers up and down the nation?
Ahead of first deliveries next month, I took two of the most popular versions for lengthy UK tests — and was surprised by my reaction.
The first generation, since 2012, has proved a firm favourite, with 142,000 sold here and 1.5 million worldwide.
High on style: The less powerful of the new Renault Capturs tested came out ahead
The new range, from £17,595, shares the same platform as its nippy Clio hatchback sibling, as well as its more upmarket interior and ‘smart cockpit’ digital infotainment system.
The cabin looks and feels smarter to the touch; a digital 9.3 in screen is standard in higher trim versions and the revised seating is very comfortable.
The SUV is bigger in every dimension, too. Even the boot has grown by 81 litres to 536 litres.
Styling tweaks are evolutionary, not revolutionary. A nip here. A tuck there. Sharper lights, but nothing too dramatic.
The new range, from £17,595, shares the same platform as its nippy Clio hatchback sibling
That’s important given that Renault reckon 42 per cent of customers cite design as their number one reason to buy.
There are four petrol and three diesel options, and from July a nifty new plug-in hybrid mating a 1.6 litre, 160 hp petrol engine to a 9.8kWh electric motor, and an F1-style clutchless gearbox, which will give it an electric-only range of 28 miles at up to 83 mph. And it has achieved the top five‑star crash test protection rating.
The first car I drove for a day was the Captur Ionic TCe100 in a fetching golden Desert Orange hue with a diamond black roof (costing £20,560).
The new Captur SUV is bigger in every dimension, too. Even the boot has grown by 81 litres to 536 litres
It had a willing 1 litre 100 hp petrol engine linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s a smooth but engaging drive, going from rest to 62 mph in 13.3 seconds and with a top speed of 107 mph. It’ll do a frugal 47.1 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 116g/km.
Later, I drove the more high-spec S Edition TCe 130 with all the trimmings (£27,055).
Its 1.3 litre 130 hp petrol engine propels it from rest to 62 mph in 9.6 seconds, up to a top speed of 120 mph. It’ll manage 44.8 mph with CO2 emissions of 124g/km.
Despite the extra power, I found the former more engaging. The 130 had a bit of a lag before take-off, which may have been the stop-start system.
But it niggled. I preferred the cheaper version, at a saving of nearly £7,000.
Electric Mini’s got big potential
I watched in awe this week as a brand-new Mini rolled off the production line at Oxford every 67 seconds — of which every one in eight was an electric version.
Then I drove one myself ahead of first deliveries next week, with more than 2,000 orders already placed.
The new electric Mini can go from rest to 37 mph in 3.9 seconds and to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds, up to a top speed of 93 mph. The 140-mile battery range is fine for city use and short trips
I’d already driven the Mini Electric in Miami, but on dull, straight roads. Blighty’s twisty, slippery country lanes proved that it performs superbly and drives like stink, but with zero emissions and no exhaust smell.
It can go from rest to 37 mph in 3.9 seconds and to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds, up to a top speed of 93 mph. The 140-mile battery range is fine for city use and short trips.
Available in three trim levels, prices are £24,400 up to £30,400 after the £3,500 Government grant.
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