Very low consumption
History and presentation
HAS MotorNatura, the Renault Captur appeared on our radars a little by surprise. This is because it was launched almost simultaneously with the Renault Zoé. Like many, we looked very closely at the electric Zoe registrations, which at first were lower than we expected, so the Capture was a hit as it is not allowed, and it blew up all its more optimistic sales forecasts. That’s how it was, and he reminded everyone that the first rule of business has always been that the customer is always right. In terms of ecology, it was not a party, as in its first generation, the Renault Captur was only available with very, very classic engines, without any kind of hybridization, not even light. Fortunately, everything changed with Captur II, who brought the power units E-Tech.
Full hybrid or plug-in hybrid. After a few moments of interrogation, we loved to try the non-rechargeable version, as being a compact rather designed for the city, we can estimate that many customers do not have a garage to plug in at night. Then you have to ask yourself the question, what is a Renault Captur, and the answer is simple. A Captur is a Clio. A little longer, and above all taller, but the whole technique is 100% Clio, is the CMF-B architecture of the Renault-Nissan alliance, which also uses the Nissan Juke, among other models. It is a new and modern platform, five stars in EuroNCAP (the best), and therefore here with a hybrid engine. This is an event as it is the first complete French hybrid engine, and can be said to be at the level of Toyota hybrid systems.
There are 3 engines. The most powerful is the gasoline, a 4-cylinder 1600, with a long stroke to give torque at low revs. This is a mechanism well known in the Renault-Nissan universe, here it is highly optimized for this hybrid application. As in Toyota or Ford hybrids, it works according to the Atkinson cycle, which involves very low power and torque values for displacement (91 hp and 144 Nm of torque), but excellent efficiency. And in terms of power, gasoline is not alone, as it is accompanied by 2 electric machines. A normal electric propulsion engine, 36 kW, and a 15 kW starter alternator. The total power available is 145 hp.
The gasoline engine can give its power to the wheels, or drive the electric machine in a generator function that will recharge the battery. As for the electric ones, they can also give the vehicle driving force, or recover energy from braking to recharge the battery, which has a capacity of 1.2 kWh. The great feature of this E-Tech system is that the transmission is a 4-speed gearbox. So dog box, like an old car or a racing car, the trick is to use electric motors to smooth out gear changes, and it works great. In use, the operation is similar to that of an automatic car. We salute the audacity of Renault engineers, first because they did not try to copy the Toyota system (which still serves as a reference), and then for this amazing choice of a dog box.
Interior and equipment
The first few minutes are very convincing. With a high seat, it is very easy to get on board, and the presentation is flattering. My test car is over Initial Paris. It costs € 34,400, but it’s beautiful. As always with Renault, we especially appreciate the harmony of colors. Here is a bicolor, anthracite and almost white gray, with taupe edging, it looks good. The habitability is more than satisfactory in the front seats, it is just as good in the back, but the trunk is small (305 liters). You need to grab the non-hybrid Captur to have a big trunk. There is no doubt, however, that good interior space and driving position have a lot to do with the success of the model. If we go into the details, we must really highlight the excellent mechanical accessibility. As it has unfortunately become rare, there is a large hood and it cleans the engine compartment very well. Of course, this is not important at a time when mechanics has been reserved for professionals, but it is still a pleasure. At least to me!
On board, and it will certainly be more inconvenient for today’s customers, the space in front of the 2 USB ports was too narrow to fit my big smartphone. I also found that the on-board computer should have more features (trip 1; trip 2 …), and that it should be possible to view the navigation in full screen, and keep it that way, without showing the radio and the phone. icons, which take up too much space. On navigation precisely, it is a big mistake that it is only in 3 dimensions. I wanted to go to a place whose name I did not know, but which I knew how to locate on a map. It’s very easy with a touch screen showing a two-dimensional map, drag. but I didn’t know how to do it here, and I had to pick up my smartphone. A good point, though, I loved the feel of the turn signal. It was once a characteristic feature of Mercedes. A sharp click from a solid driver. All cars should be like this. This Renault is at this point 10 times higher than the BMWs that have impulse control.
Performance and handling
We always start in electric mode and therefore immediately have the feeling that we are in a real hybrid. Gear changes are almost imperceptible, there is no torque break, but in the ear, the sensation is much more mixed. I have to compare it to the Toyota system, which is the pioneer and the benchmark, and it’s obviously less enjoyable. At Toyota, the transmission has a continuous variation effect, so the engine increases very quickly if you accelerate hard. But first it doesn’t last, and that’s understandable too. We understand what’s going on under the hood, and we finally get used to it very quickly. Here it is more complex. The gasoline engine seems to run in stages.
The gasoline engine runs at a certain speed and suddenly runs 1000 rpm faster. Or 1000 rpm slower. So it’s well done, there’s no shaking, but there’s no transition either. We drive quietly, at an unknown engine speed as there is no tachometer, and period, we suddenly feel that the engine speed has changed. The fact is even more puzzling because it is not tied to the position of the throttle. If it really looks like a Toyota, remember the Prius 1. It was over 20 years ago, and it was running smoother than that Captur, but often the gasoline engine ran at a speed that did not match speed. Toyota has worked hard to make its hybrids run more naturally, perhaps Renault should follow suit, but … It’s not certain that energy efficiency requires it. Renault announces from 0 to 100 km / h in 10.6 seconds, so it’s not very exciting, but with the instant power of an electric motor, this hybrid Captur quickly starts at red lights. And it moves as expected from a compact crossover, which is pretty comfortable, but never exciting. A Ford Puma is more fun to drive, the Renault takes advantage because it is generally more pleasant to live in, with a cabin that offers more space. Everyone has their own priorities.
Consumption, energy efficiency
There we asked a lot of questions. What would Renault’s hybrid technology be worth? Toyota had set the bar very high, most manufacturers have chosen not to face it directly (especially the Germans), and to move towards the rechargeable hybrid. Renault accepted the challenge and, very well, reached the level of the Japanese giant. We found an average consumption of 3.7 l / 100 km on urban routes, 4.3 l / 100 km on the road and 6.2 l / 100 km on the road. All of these numbers are excellent. Only on the highway would a Prius have done better, no doubt for greater aerodynamic finesse. And very well, the tank has a capacity of 48 liters. This means that if we avoid the highway, we have more than 1000 km of autonomy. For an average driver, it means staying up all month without worrying about refueling.
If we doubted, this test was positive, it will have removed all doubts. The Renault Captur is a good car for the French motorcyclist, being compact, you can drive on small streets or large congested cities, but livable, 4 people are comfortable on board. The best part is that with this engine, it’s really very sober. A Toyota hybrid would not have consumed less, nor a diesel Captur. Like what French car technology can be at its best. Renault tells us that on an urban route the petrol engine is stopped 80% of the time. It’s so great that we’d like the on-board computer to check it out. But in the meantime, our consumption records undoubtedly set the formidable efficiency of Renault’s E-Tech hybrid system. The big rollers can’t ignore it.
Laurent J. Masson
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