2020 Renault Captur E-Tech plug-in hybrid review in the UK

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Our test car was a left-wing whore to European specs, but was nonetheless representative of what we’ll have here in the UK when deliveries start in October. Like the Clio supermini, the Captur’s cabin has a lot of appeal for a chic design, and a fairly liberal application of soft-touch molded plastics to the dashboard and doors helps enhance the tactile appeal. A few of the switches feel a bit flimsy, and the gear selector is as dry in its slot as ever, but overall the Captur impresses.A sliding rear seat helps clear the legs of the second row, so while the rear of the Captur doesn’t feel really cavernous, there’s enough room for an average-sized adult to sit comfortably. Headroom is a bit tight, however, and trunk space takes a slight hit compared to its non-pluggable range comrades. Where ICE cars have up to 422 liters of luggage capacity, the PHEV is content with 379 liters.

On the road, it retains the firmer and more controlled configuration which is arguably the most significant point of difference between the first and second generation models. The result is a cross that is more manageable than before; one with decent grip, stability and an intuitively weighted steering rack and offering an appealing response just outside the center.

But there is a compromise. With a high level of lateral stiffness, its body control in faster turns is impressive, but that makes the Captur prone to jostling and fuss when the road surface is not particularly even. This is particularly noticeable at low speed, and especially in town. Provided you stick with a smaller wheel choice, the Ford Puma feels like the smoothest compact crossover – not to mention the more precise handling – of the compact crossover, but it must be said that the Captur does a decent job of softening the blow of sharper side impacts. .

Still, the Puma isn’t available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, so the Captur gets a lot of appeal here. Renault’s setup is, for the most part, quite solid. As is the case with the new Mégane plug-in, the refinement under load is very impressive. You can hear the four-cylinder engine humming as the revs rise, but at all times it remains a distant, muffled drone that never gets too overwhelming.

Throttle response at lower speeds is also good and the electric motor provides brisk acceleration between around 20mph and 30mph. Less impressive is the way the Captur reacts when you keep your foot on it. Once the initial electric drive thrust expires, you end up in what looks like an accelerating limb until the gasoline engine spins fast enough to resume the process. Sure, you’re not stuck there for ages, but that noticeable slowing down means the overall acceleration isn’t as linear as you might have hoped.

Still, at speeds more favorable to the city this Captur should undoubtedly be spending most of its time, performance is pretty decent. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t match a ride that offers a bit more flexibility in such environments.

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