Renault Captur E-TECH hybrid review
The full-hybrid Captur E-TECH is a comfortable and efficient compact SUV, with impressive electric running potential around town
- Good-quality interior
- Poor transmission
- Pricier than non-hybrid
- Slight loss in practicality
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
While Renault has a plethora of fully electric models arriving soon, including the Megane E-TECH and the reborn Renault 5, that hasn’t stopped the French brand from expanding its range of hybrids. The Captur small SUV has been available with plug-in hybrid power for some time now, but this is the full-hybrid version, which shares its E-TECH powertrain with the electrified Clio hatchback.
Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre petrol engine coupled with two electric motors, fed by a small 1.2kWh battery. The first motor can drive the wheels outright, while the second acts as an integrated starter-generator, helping to smooth the gaps between gearchanges and recover energy when slowing down. The engine produces 138bhp and 144Nm of torque on its own, while the electric motor alone delivers 250Nm of torque.
This setup propels the Captur from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, which is on par with rivals like the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona Hybrid and Toyota Yaris Cross. CO2 emissions are competitive, too, with the S Edition model we tested producing 114g/km in official testing.
That small 1.2kWh battery means you’re not going to be able to complete your daily commute without some use of the petrol engine. However, Renault claims that the full-hybrid Captur can cover up to 80% of urban drives in electric mode at up to 40mph, plus the car can 'coast' with its engine off at speeds above that.
Switch on the E-TECH Hybrid and you start your journey in near-total silence, aside from the low-pitch hum the car emits when running solely on electric power. Around town, the Captur E-TECH can behave like a fully charged plug-in hybrid or even a fully fledged electric car.
If you want to force the Captur to run more on electric power, you can select the 'Pure' driving mode, but it’s best to just let the car read your driving style and adopt a smooth, unhurried approach. Leave the car to its own devices, and you’ll be surprised how much the petrol engine stays dormant. Do so, and you’re likely to see the full-hybrid Captur return over 50mpg if you drive mainly around town and more urban areas.
That doesn't mean the Captur E-TECH isn’t equally happy at higher speeds. The engine provides enough shove to make swift progress on A-roads and motorways, and overall the car is very comfortable, striking a neat balance between ride comfort and handling.
The fairly forgiving suspension means the SUV is comfortable on the road, while the gentle body lean helps provide a pleasing flow to driving down a twisty B-road. The Renault isn’t the most agile car in its class and the steering isn’t the sharpest, but there's a pleasing heft to it, while remaining light enough at low speeds.
The clutchless gearbox is one of the few shortcomings of the full-hybrid Captur. The switch between electric and petrol power isn’t flawless; you can occasionally feel a jolt when the engine kicks in. But that's mostly when you make a sudden request for acceleration – once that’s over and done with, the motor is smooth. After spending some time with the car, you'll find the transition between power sources hard to detect.
The Captur E-TECH also falls behind hybrid SUV rivals when it comes to practicality. There’s 326 litres of boot space on offer as standard – less than both the Kona Hybrid and Yaris Cross, as well as the petrol-powered Captur, can manage – however, the rear bench can slide forward to expand that figure to 440 litres. Although, rear legroom is cramped in this layout, so for day-to-day use it’s best to leave it slid to the back.
Overall, the Renault’s cabin is comfortable and nicely finished, with a solid infotainment touchscreen and instrument display. The driving position feels high for a relatively compact car, but that's one of the reasons why you might go for a small SUV over a hatchback, and it gives you a decent view of the road ahead.
The full-hybrid Captur E-TECH is available in three trims: Evolution, Techno and R.S. Line. The entry-level car comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and rear parking sensors, as well as a 4.2-inch display within the gauge cluster and a seven-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav.
The Techno – the one we’d recommend – adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a seven-inch digital driver’s display, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. Opt for the R.S. Line and you get sportier design cues inside and out, including a different bumper, grille and 18-inch alloys, plus an upgraded 9.3-inch touchscreen.
Overall, the non-plug-in Captur E-TECH hybrid is an impressive compact SUV that can go toe-to-toe with the best in this hugely popular class. It’s comfortable, efficient and will effortlessly cover miles on electric power only around town without the need for you to ever top up the battery yourself. It does lose some practicality compared to the purely petrol-powered Captur, but it’ll still stand up to use as a family car without hesitation.