back to article Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

The Renault Captur (Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90, to give it its full name) is the kind of car people who buy them describe as “easy to drive”. These are the same people who when you ask what car is that, they say “a red one”. I once reviewed the IBM PS/1 and was more than a little disappointed. The only thing IBM and I agreed …

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I wonder if I am the sort of person then that this pile of crap is aimed towards. I know bugger all about cars, I see them as a tool nothing more or nothing less.

I want to knw if I can get myself, wife, dog and assorted wheelchairs and what-not into the thing, whether I can get half a ton of wood in the back and up my lane to the cottage. If I can, then I am interested.

I don't even know the model number of the Landie that I have nor do I know the registration number come to that (I can recognise the thing in a carpark; it's the one that recently caught fire) and that's enough for me.

And anyway, if one wants a thrill out of drving then I suggest that one can get a thrill out of any vehicle given the circumstances or the road. Any straight line road is dull after a while anyway; when I worked in Germany and tore up and down the autobahns in my three and a half litre white car at over 110mph and I found that thrill went. Now try to go around a badly designed roundabout in the wrong gear in, say, a Micra, and then things do get thrilling -- will it oversteer at the wrong time or will it understeer? There's no way to tell other than to get one's boot down and find out.

Going around same roundabout in a car that hugs the road at 3G is relatively dull because you know that you're going to get there.

If one can't get a thrill out of driving that then perhaps you're driving it right and that will never do.

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One issue that should concern you that people seldom think about when buying cars is "how much will this thing cost to fix?". A lot depends on whether you will buy it new and turn it over in 3 years (capped priced servicing) or not but some of these cars, and the French are bastards for it, have absolutely bizarrely laid out engine bays that are a total and utter c*nt to service. Just have a quick word with your mechanic before looking at buying and gauge their reaction. I know a few that hate certain models despite the extra money they bring in by requiring more hours for the same job as the grief they cause just isn't worth it. When the owners complain "that's a bit steep, X around the corner only paid £Y to get his clutch replaced" they often feel like retorting "well his car wasn't designed by a sadistic bastard".

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I think a mechanic friend told me about the Renault Fuego 30 years ago, non standard spark plugs and god knows what else.

Amazing if they still do it. They are just not better than other cars so anything that makes them less affordable is surely crackers.

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Indeed, Renault did that with the Kangoo.. I have no idea how they even got the engine in it, probably from underneath. It took half an hour to find the bonnet (hood) release, passenger side? really? and then a look in the manual to find the dipstick. Jammed under the engine next to something very hot. And it was still hot after that half hour, so there's no way you can just check it.

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"It took half an hour to find the bonnet (hood) release, passenger side? really?"

I feel inclined to point out that, since you drive on the other side of the road, having the bonnet release there is perfectly logical. It would be the driver side of any European model.

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@BongoJoe

I'm with you. When the kids were small we had the Citroen Berlingo.

Just totally functional.

The very anthesis of a boy racer's car.

But it could get two kids, baby cot, dog, suitcases and all the other stuff you need as a parent down to the seaside. It had lots of places to plug gadgets in, seatback trays for colouring books, snacks, etc.

Storage spaces anywhere you could possibly imagine ( and a few you wouldn't).

The rear seats could be stripped out in minutes to turn it into the van it really was - perfect for when the kids need a new bedroom suite from the local DIY store.

But it wouldn't impress a Clarkson.

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@ Mark 65

>how much will this thing cost to fix

To be fair to Renault, and having owned one I'm not usually inclined to be so, most modern cars are absolute buggers to fix yourself. I could wax lyrical about the times I've fixed cars with knicker elastic, and I have, but nowadays the engine bays of virtually all new cars are so cramped you can't even find a spark plug let alone replace one. Then there's the engine management control unit, I hate them with a passion. I'm suprised you don't have to get it reprogrammed simply for daring to open the bonnet and top up the wiper fluid. Just another way to try to tie you to the manufacturer. That and the need for special tools which cost a fortune and aren't profitable for a small workshop to have. These days I just drive and pray the car keeps going.

And has anybody else noticed that the Haynes manuals aren't anywhere near as good as they used to be?

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Re: @ Mark 65

**** And has anybody else noticed that the Haynes manuals aren't anywhere near as good as they used to be? ***

And winters really seem to have gone downhill as well. But my space shuttle Haynes manual is still giving value for money :-)a

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@Heyrick:

So it's perfectly okay if they leave the steering wheel and pedals on the wrong side of the car as well then?

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"I feel inclined to point out that, since you drive on the other side of the road, having the bonnet release there is perfectly logical. It would be the driver side of any European model."

I drive a Volkswagen. Also made in Europe, in Germany where they drive on the right hand side of the road too. However, the bonnet release catch is on the driver side in my car despite the steering wheel being on the opposite side of where it would be in Germany. The good people at VW obviously took some care to make sure that they tried to make their cars as RHD friendly as possible at the design stage. By the sounds of it, Renault does not (or didn't in the case of that car).

Not adapting your cars to LHD and RHD markets is being lazy, nothing more nothing less.

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Facepalm

on my Wifes Megane 1.5 replacing the headlight bulbs entails jacking up the car, removing the front wheel and then reaching through an access panel that can barely accommodate my hand.

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Trollface

Criticising other countries' cars...

... is a waste of time; expect no more than a gallic shrug in response to criticism of French cars, and probably the same from any other nation's constructor(s). If you want things to be done better try starting up your own car company.

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"But it wouldn't impress a Clarkson"

The Skoda Yeti did though and it is just as practical...

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YMMV - literally

@Norphy - Well, I have a VW Transporter-based camper - RHD - and the bonnet release is on the left. Methinks it's not so much lazy as a mixture of "who really cares" mixed with a VERY large dose of "it's cheaper that way".

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my Wifes Megane 1.5 replacing the headlight bulbs entails jacking up the car

My Honda Jazz is similar but apparently if you turn the wheels, have thin hands and can work blind you can skip the jack and wheel removal.

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"Now try to go around a badly designed roundabout in the wrong gear in, say, a Micra, and then things do get thrilling"

This was most of the fun of mini sevens or fiat 850s. If you got out of shape it usually wasn't fatally so.

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Re: @ Mark 65

"has anybody else noticed that the Haynes manuals aren't anywhere near as good as they used to be?"

Assuming a Haynes manual for your car exists at all.

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German vs French manufacturers

"The good people at VW obviously took some care to make sure that they tried to make their cars as RHD friendly as possible at the design stage. By the sounds of it, Renault does not (or didn't in the case of that car)."

Not just Renault.

Pedals which work well on LHD Pugeots end up being an utter bollox on RHD ones and let's not forget the issue of brake pedals being a linkage under the carpet to the left side of the cabin, resulting in a passenger who knows where to put his foot being able to stop the car.

Then there's the electrics. Lucas (prince of darkness) has multiple french spawn.

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WRT bulb replacement: Recent EU design rules changes have outlawed that kind of thing for filiament bulb changes (they have to be able to be performed at the roadside with no tools).

The probable result is an acceleration of the adoption of leds and even more bastard arrangements for replacing units.

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Happy

Which is more dangerous?

Watching the little processing icon is as tiresome as it is dangerous.

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drive like you stole it

Your guess is as good as mine.

I would thought for a lot of people having a car boy racers wouldn't steal is a positive advantage.

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Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

It's a car for people with young families, not a car for a tech-, speed- and power-focused reviewer. Unsurprisingly, you don't like it much. That doesn't make it a bad car - it makes it a bad car for you. It sounds very good for taking Mum, Dad and two kids and all their paraphernalia out on a Saturday afternoon, which is its intended market.

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Facepalm

Re: Graham 24 Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

".....It sounds very good for taking Mum, Dad and two kids and all their paraphernalia out on a Saturday afternoon....." So you missed the bit about the lack of rear leg room then?

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

And how many young families have kids over six foot that would find the rear leg room cramped - very few I would imagine.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

Except that there is a safety issue to an underpowered car, particularly a high-sided one. Having been terrorised by driving a 1.6 Verso up a hill trying and failing to overtake a truck on a motorway on a windy day, I can attest to the need for at least some torque, even if it is turbo-lagged. Pootling around is fine if that is all you are ever going to do, but joining fast-moving traffic (as another example) from a short slip road is no picnic.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

If you knew you were driving a torqueless car why did you try to overtake a truck going uphill on a motorway on a windy day? Was it the car's fault or yours?

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

> If you knew you were driving a torqueless car why did you try to overtake

Can't speak for the other chap, but I'd hazard a guess that it was at precisely that point that he became acutely and painfully aware of the aforesaid lack of torque.

I drove a 205 once, and you'd measure its 0-60¹ with a calendar.

¹ And that's km, not miles.

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

>>And how many young families have kids over six foot that would find the rear leg room cramped - very few I would imagine.

I have a young family. A 5 month old in fact. I bought a new car when she came along and rear leg room is very important. This is because my wife sits in the back. When baby starts screaming my wife can comfort her, give her a bottle etc. and as we chose a car with decent rear legroom (a Golf in case anyone gives a shit) she can sit in comfort throughout the journey.

It was lucky we thought of that. A lot of cars we looked at had crap legroom in the back and while it's tempting to say that kids won't care, in reality it made a huge difference, at least for us. But maybe we're the only ones with kids who decided to start with a baby ;-)

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

When our kids were little, sometimes I would sit in the back with them (I'm 6' tall) when it was my wife's turn to drive on trips.

Also, we hold onto our cars for a long time - one car is 17 years old, another is 11 years old. We bought cars with enough rear legroom that we didn't have to replace them as our kids grew up.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

@HarryB Damn it, you got there before me.

Anyone who isn't already going a noticeable amount faster than the vehicle ahead shouldn't be in the lane to the right failing to pass it.

I spend a good part of my life on the stretch of the M1 between junctions 2 and 6. Most of it behind cars poodling along in the middle lane when the lane to the left is either empty, or with a car ahead actually going faster than they are.

I hate overtaking on the left. I actually put some effort into not doing it.

But when I'm approaching my exit point in an empty left lane and some d***head is going down the middle lane at a leisurely 60...

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

Or.. A Maxi Cosi Pebble baby seat on a family fix base. Takes about as much legroom at the rear as a 6+ foot passenger in the back. And any Iso fix seat is very similar.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

If you knew you were driving a torqueless car why did you try to overtake a truck going uphill on a motorway on a windy day? Was it the car's fault or yours?

How many drivers that this vehicle is aimed at (the ones who view it as purely a transport tool) would actually ask themselves that question prior to attempting an overtake manoeuvre? In my experience it's approximately none; I have been witness to more failed overtakes than I care to remember. So this is acting completely in character for the target market, and thus could be argued to be good journalism for a review.

The fact that the act itself should never have been attempted simply points at our somewhat poor standard of driver training. All drivers should be carefully appraising all those facts (available space, vehicle performance, visibility and other road conditions) prior to any manoeuvre. The fact that many don't is mainly a slur on their own skills :(

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Re: Up a hill? In a Verso? Full of Wind? Of course I was very, very drunk...

As one AC says, it was then I became aware of the shortcomings of my wife's car. My own rather clapped out Focus diesel turbo would have neither problem with wind nor hills, but then even as a short-arse, I'd get a crick in my neck with the low roof...

The point is, if reviews don't give you a clue about performance, you don't realise how much trouble you are in until you are neck deep in a Lola...

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

Pootling around is exactly all you are going to do in this: it's a school run car, with trips to the hairdresser and Tesco and dogwalking thrown in.

Any serious travelling is done in Dad's vehicle - you know, the powerful one with the twin turbos.

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

So this car isn't for you. Get over it and buy a Zafira. Or an XC90...

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

It's not just babies, as they get older, before they can sit with their feet on the floor then because of the shortness of their legs the legs stick out at an angle more or less perpendicular to the seat base. You certainly notice a lack of rear leg room then, you want as much space as possible between your seat back and the back seat in those circumstances.

Arguably it's only when they are adult size, when they can plant both feet on the floor while sat in the seat so that the feet go underneath the front seat that leg room becomes less of an issue.

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Re: Graham 24 Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

If wife is sitting in the back then the front passenger seat can be slid forward for more legroom on that side.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

"I hate overtaking on the left. I actually put some effort into not doing it."

Middle/right lane twats continually tempt me to fit a ships foghorn behind the grille. The fact that the compressor to drive it would be larger than the engine goes some way to dissuading me.

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Re: Built to appeal to its market, which is not you

"Pootling around is exactly all you are going to do in this: it's a school run car, with trips to the hairdresser and Tesco and dogwalking thrown in."

At which point that magical 70+mpg figure will never be achieved and the DPF will clog regularly.

We are well past the point where cars for those purposes can be EVs (I was pleasantly surprised by a Leaf test drive) or PHEVs

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'drive like a christian'???

I used to know a 'born again' who drove like a lunatic and professed to not adhering to any law but gods law...

He was scary to be in the car with (if he was drivng) and just annoying otherwise - throwing tapes of Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds out the window 'cause they were anti-christian...probably causing people to take the lords name in vain as bits of plastic hit their windshield at speed.

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Windows

Re: 'drive like a christian'???

That's the people who have a "JESUS SAVES" sticker on the bumper. Seen those.

But even in the world of Higher Sanity (tm), go to Portugal, drive like a mofo playing chicken with trucks, but at least the rosary hanging off the rear-view mirror gives you assurance.

Apart from that, what was so bad about the PS/1 except its eye-popping price (which was expected since you bought the IBM sticker actually, not the machine underneath). Ok, nobody would have wanted an 80286 if he had known what that was...

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Re: 'drive like a christian'???

@Teiwaz

He threw tapes of the War of the Worlds out the window??? I'd have struck the little bugger with lightning for that

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MJI
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Re: 'drive like a christian'???

A term mentioned by James May, basically very polite driving.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'drive like a christian'???

Obviously Jesus didn't save these people's driving skills. When I see a bumper sticker that says: "God is my co-pilot", I generally suggest to the driver that they allow Jesus to drive.

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Re: 'drive like a christian'???

Jesus saves, but Bobby was a better captain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'drive like a christian'???

I knew two born agains who drove on the basis that God was looking after them. The day they hired a minibus to take the choir to some event, she was asleep on the job and they wrapped it round a street lamp on a corner, fortunately before the kiddies were on board.

So yes, they decided God was still on their side because nobody got hurt.

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Re: 'drive like a christian'???

As my son informs me, Thai drivers have as the basis of their driving technique the motto "Buddha will provide".

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Meh

Looks Good For Dogs

The low opening at the rear looks ideal for dogs, perhaps I will not need that for too much longer for my arthritic elderly Lab, but still good for my daughter's two hounds. As a town run about dog and granddaughter transporter the only things that puts me off are the maker, their reliability record and its a diesel. Still my Jazz is getting a bit long in the tooth and mileage is now building so I need something to think about as a replacement.

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Re: Looks Good For Dogs

It is.

My next door neighbour, who works for Nissan/Renault UK, got one partly due to their large dog. It is also cheaper to run/maintain than the Nissan Quashqai and Nissan Juke, all three of which have the same chassis. Oh and she felt the Juke was less practical on the inside.

I'm still contemplating the fact I can get the Friends and Family discount on a Nissan GTR ....

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Re: Looks Good For Dogs

I'd keep the Jazz. I've been impressed with my 02 plate Civic 1.6s petrol, 220k miles, still going strong. Do all my own servicing, and have done for last 5 years. Probably needs new clutch (still original) and cam belt (on second), but TBH, I'll just run it until is dies a death. No point in trading in.

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Chz

Re: Looks Good For Dogs

I'm not sure about the practicality of its twin brother, the Juke, but the Nissan certainly feels less cheapo inside. Does Renault offer the fun little turbo petrol engine (190ps) that the Juke has?

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