Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Car captures techno age

A GREAT book title — rather like a great newspaper headline — is rare and therefore memorable. Of the former,

A GREAT book title — rather like a great newspaper headline — is rare and therefore memorable. Of the former, I Capture The Castle by Jodie Smith — her first novel — is a standout title, as is my favourite banner headline from an issue of the Daily Mirror of my youth, telling the then Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev, “Mr K, Don’t be so b…... rude!”

There are some legendary names for cars — Thunderbird, Firebird, Cobra, and the like — so I imagine that by calling one of their latest models the Captur (no final e because of course it remains stoically and stylishly French), Renault had something special in mind.

There is no doubt, as with the Jodie Smith book title, that “capture” is an evocative word and if carmakers are not naming cars by numbers (see my Standard motoring columns passim) then they are still trying to think up memorable monickers.

What’s special about the Captur is its all-embracing nod to 21st century culture and car manufacture. It shouts innovation from its ice-cream-cone colours to its tablet-like touch dashboard screen that oozes all relevant media.

In this, the Captur is quite uncompromising. If like me, you still have a fairly substantial collection of CDs, then you would be best served getting all that treasured music on to an iPod or some such device. Then by docking your iPod in the Captur’s inviting plug-ins you can enjoy your tunes while you drive.

This is not exactly new because many new cars have USB ports and docking devices and the like. It’s just that the Captur is the closest I have yet come to imagining what it is like to actually drive around inside your smartphone, laptop or iPad. The Captur is truly a vehicle that reflects closely the techno generation and all that it aspires to. When the car is stationary you can actually access your emails on the dashboard tablet.

Which is exactly what Renault had in mind when it came up with the Captur. It is the French carmaker’s first compact supermini crossover that sprang from a concept car of the same name, which Renault unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

As with all concept cars at major car shows, their beginnings are, for something as down-to-earth as a car, surreal to say the least. Renault says that the Captur came from a study that followed an “earlier DeZir supercar in interpreting a new design strategy based on the human life cycle”.

“Captur,” Renault continues, “was about two people moving on to explore the world around them, before having a family.” So there is a marketing strategy here — and who can blame Renault for that? What we have with the Captur is a car firmly locked into the idea of its owner living a very 21st century lifestyle.

Its concept may be an idealised view of the world but Renault is convinced this is the way cars of the future will develop and I have to agree. The colour schemes — the test car was in a fetching two-tone of blue and cream — may shock older generations. (Wouldn’t that be great to actually shock an older generation these days?) And indeed, there were many people who did not like the livery of the Captur. Some I suspect were more underwhelmed than shocked.

But I liked the two-tone colour (which is an option) and though driving the Captur is not particularly involving I suppose it is not meant to be so. After all you may love your mobile/tablet/latest gismo but there is really no need to get emotional about it, as one might once have become very moved by the sound of a burbling V12 engine.

Launched as recently as last July there is everything in the Captur you might imagine you want in a modern car. Full marks to Renault — even allowing for the glam and glitz surrounding concept cars — for carrying through to production a car that is up-to-the-minute in every way. This is a story that will run and run.

* Renault Captur prices range from £12,496 to £18,895

* UK range available in four trim levels — Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav

* Equipment includes 16in or 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, 60/40 folding and sliding rear bench seat, front and rear electric windows, trip computer, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control, speed limiter and fuel-saving ECO driving mode

* R-Link multimedia system (available as an option on Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav) gives access to online services and communications, and enables useful apps

* System forms part of a fully-integrated tablet with a seven-inch colour touchscreen that enables voice recognition, email access (when the car is stationary), a photo and video viewer, software to help with eco-efficient driving and TomTom navigation

* Three engines available, all turbocharged, including a 1.2 TCe 120 petrol with six-speed EDC dual clutch automatic transmission. Also available are a 0.9 TCe 90 three-cylinder petrol unit and the latest development of a 1.5 dCi 90 diesel

Two-tone paint finishes can be specified, with contrasting colours for the roof and body

By Nigel Wigmore

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