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Renault Captur Competitive Crossover.

The new Renault Captur looks an awful lot like its predecessor at first glance, but if there’s anything the latest Clio has taught us it’s that massive improvements can be hidden under marginal styling tweaks. That’s certainly the case here; the old Captur, though popular and strong-selling was definitely getting very long in the tooth. This totally refreshed model represents a vast improvement in every regard, though.

Derivative styling aside, the Captur really is all-new. It rides on the latest CMF-B platform that also underpins the latest Clio, there’s a posh new interior and a wide range of engines including a plug-in hybrid model coming later in the year.

There’s a lot of competition

Certainly more than its predecessor. When the first Captur came along in 2013, it was pretty much only competing with the Nissan Juke. Now, there’s the Volkswagen T-Cross, Mazda CX-3, Peugeot 2008, Hyundai Kona, Skoda Kamiq – to name just a few.

Renault hopes to stand out in a few ways. Styling is an obvious one – it might not be too different to the old car, but as compact SUVs go, it’s a real looker. It’s much more cohesive than some of its rivals, with bold lighting signatures (LED as standard, so even base models look smart) and stylish alloy wheels.

It’s also far nicer inside

Compared with the old car, it couldn’t be more different. Gone are the horrid plastics and driving position where you sit on top of everything. You now get a proper driving position in very comfy seats (that look remarkably like ones you’ll find in a Volvo), swathes of soft materials across the dash and where you actually lean and poke around, and a suite of digital displays that make it feel suitably modern.

The digital dials are crisp and custom is able with different themes based on the driving mode you’re in, while the largest 9.3-inch touchscreen media system comes packed with features – it’s a huge improvement over the old system and is very easy to use, if a little laggy at times when swiping between screens.

There’s more room, too

It would be a bit of a backwards step if there wasn’t more space on offer, and the Captur’s a good fit for small families. That jacked-up ride height is good for easy access, the rear bench slides back and forth depending on whether you want more legroom or a bigger boot, and there’s a double-height boot floor.

Up to 536 litres of space is on offer if you slide the seats forwards. That’s impressive when you consider the Skoda Kamiq’s boot is 400 litres in size, but that does mean there’s no legroom in the back. However, even with the seats all the way back, it’s a bigger space with 422 litres.

What’s under the bonnet?

A selection of petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid offering that’ll join the range later in the year. Things kick off with a 1.0-litre TCe 100, which has just 99bhp and 118lb ft. While 13.3 seconds to 62mph is definitely slow, if you give this engine a good boot it’s surprisingly tractable. Majority town users will be more than happy with the power on offer, and it’s not above the occasional motorway jaunt either.

It’s spoiled by a notchy five-speed manual, though, so we’d go for the 1.3 TCe 130 instead. 128bhp and a much chunkier 177lb ft come from four cylinders, rather than three – so it’s both smoother and more powerful, albeit slightly more droning at speed. A six-speed manual is standard, but you can opt for a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, badged EDC.