First Drive

First Drive: Renault Captur PHEV

The story: The Captur small crossover, Renault’s biggest-selling model in the UK is one of the brand’s first two models to get plug-in tech, along with the Megane Sport Tourer
Category:Small Crossover
Key rival:Kia Niro PHEV
Efficiency:117.6 mpg
On sale:October 2020

Plug-in hybrids are breeding across the new car industry, and Renault has got in on the act with two at once.

As well as the Megane, which comes initially in Sport Tourer form, with a hatch version coming next year, the Captur small crossover is now available with 34-36g/km of emissions, and offering a 30-mile electric range that means a 10% BiK band.

First Drive- September 2020-Renault Captur-Image 6The plug-in Captur comes with a combination of 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motors, offering a total of 160hp to make it the most powerful model in the range. It is available in the Captur’s top S Edition spec, as well as a fully loaded Launch Edition trim that adds interior and exterior detailing and larger alloy wheels for an additional £500. The PHEV version of the Captur costs almost £5000 more than the 155hp petrol Captur in S Edition spec, although a 40% taxpayer will save £156 a month in Benefit-in-Kind tax alone, on top of fuel savings for plug-ins being run as intended with as much time as possible on electric. The BiK saving almost pays for the extra up-front over three years, and then it requires the car to be used properly in terms of fuel economy to pay dividends. Renault is doing its bit in terms of encouraging drivers to charge as frequently as possible by offering a free BP Chargemaster wallbox for home charging.

The PHEV version retains almost the same boot capacity as the regular model, losing just 16 litres to take it to a still-decent 379, while the useful sliding rear bench seat is also retained.

The Captur has three drive settings, Pure, Sport and MySense, which revert to electric, maximum performance and peak efficiency modes respectively. There is also an E-Save function that stores at least 40% of the battery level for use later in the journey, but to be honest it’s not the most user-friendly way of shifting between them, because you need to use the infotainment screen rather than a toggle or button in the cabin. If you’re already using the navigation system, you then have to go into and out of the different screens when changing the driving modes.

There’s also a useful Brake function that increases the regeneration level, offering a good level of increased deceleration when the driver lifts off the throttle, recharging the battery more quickly. The battery does then seem to top itself up pretty rapidly from empty when driving.

First Drive- September 2020-Renault Captur-Image 4The Captur has a few additional elements on the dashboard over the petrol, including the predictable range indicator and a dial for showing whether the car is using energy or charging. That dial goes from green to white where the engine kicks in, although it’s hard to tell the difference between the two at first glance.

Performance is adequate for a small crossover; the Captur takes off to a fast start thanks to its electric power, and rides nicely. The interior quality, and in particular the design, is good, and the new Captur’s looks are sharper than those of the first-generation model.

The plug-in package makes the PHEV the most sensible company car Captur, as long as it’s run on electricity often enough to earn the fuel savings that make up for the much higher list price.

paul barker

The verdict

Will make good sense for company car drivers – as long as it is properly plugged in and charged as
much as possible.