Tech reviews

Renault Captur E-Tech review: the F1-inspired PHEV crossover


What do we have here then?
Well, the first thing to note before you develop sudden onset narcolepsy, is that this isn’t just a standard second-gen Renault Captur. Phew.
Styling-wise there’s pretty much nothing that gives it away (other than a filler cap on both rear haunches) but this is actually the plug-in hybrid Renault Captur E-Tech.
Ah, I’ve heard about E-Tech already, haven’t I?
You certainly have. E-Tech is Renault’s Formula 1-inspired hybrid system that pairs two electric motors with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Said gearbox is a mightily interesting one though. It’s a multi-mode dog-type box without a clutch, similar to the ones used in F1. The smaller of the two electric motors is then used to match the engine’s speed with the road speed for smooth changes. Oh, and that smaller motor also starts up the internal combustion engine whenever it’s needed (but only on the move – turn the car on and you’ll always start moving in EV mode). It’s one heck of a clever system, this.
Sounds interesting. Tell me more…
Gladly. The larger of the two aforementioned electric motors drives the front wheels, either on its own for 30 miles at speeds of up to 83mph, or in combination with the petrol engine depending on your choice of drive mode.
The engine’s super clever control unit apparently provides up to 15 different combinations of power source and ratio. There’s no reverse gear in that fancy gearbox either – that’s dealt with using only electricity. The battery is a 9.8kWh unit and takes between three and four hours for a full charge thanks to a maximum 3.6kW feed.
It may be complicated, but Renault also assures us this is a value-for-money system. At £30,495, though, the E-Tech PHEV in S Edition trim is around £5,000 more than the equivalently specced 128bhp 1.3-litre petrol Captur. Ouch.
How does it drive?
Well the first thing to note is that the E-Tech is now the most powerful Captur available for UK buyers. The hybrid system combines to produce a total of 158bhp and 257lb ft of torque, which in turn means a top speed of 107mph and a 0-62mph time of 10.1 seconds.
That may not seem like the most pertinent stat here, but put the Captur into Sport mode and the central screen shows a picture of it on a track. Ambitious.
Anyway, that Sport mode offers the powertrain’s full forward potential. You’ll most often use the automatic MySense setting though, which still offers reasonably linear acceleration with less of the rubber banding sounds you get in a CVT gearboxed hybrid. Pure is Renault’s name for all-electric drive, whilst E-Save allows you to run on the (rather gruff) engine alone and save at least 40 per cent of EV power for later urban driving.
It’s all very well thought-through stuff, and the Captur reflects that in the way it rides and handles. It’s a crossover, so it’s far from what you’d call exciting, but this second-gen is civilised enough and more than acceptable for daily life.
What are the mpg claims?
A brilliantly sensible question. Renault claims 188.3mpg and 34g/km on the WLTP cycle, but then this is a PHEV so that’s a brilliantly unsensible answer. In real-world driving it’ll depend how regularly you make trips that are longer than 30 miles. You do get a free wallbox from BP Chargemaster though.
And what’s it like inside?
Well, much like the exterior, there isn’t much difference from the combustion engined Capturs. All E-Techs will get that (frustratingly unresponsive) central 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen, as well as a 10-inch digital dial screen and a wireless phone charger in the dash.
The 379-litre boot is slightly down on the internal combustion Capturs, though.
Final thoughts, then…
Well, it’s not a bad plug-in effort from Renault this, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the E-Tech powertrain works better in the smaller (non-PHEV) Clio. The lack of any fast-charging ability is a bit of a let-down too, and then there’s the price. The standard second-gen Captur gets a TG rating of 6/10, so this one’s a middle of the road…
5/10



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