At the risk of revealing too much about my inner self, sometimes I wish I was a girl. They might think it’s a man’s world, but I reckon they have it made, or at least they did until they went down the road of equality and discovered it perhaps wasn’t everything they’d expected.
When it comes to cars, it seems that looks and colour are often the major factors women consider when choosing a new vehicle. Yes, I realise I’m generalising horribly here and owe an apology to the many female revheads reading this, but seriously, how many times have we blokes poured through mountains of research only for our better halves to decide they want a particular model because “it’s just so cute” or that it doesn’t matter “so long as it’s that bright metallic red”.
When I collected the Renault Captur back in March, I was well aware that this was a ‘chick car’ and certainly not intended for an ageing boy racer. So I tried to get in touch with my inner female. Not very successfully, as it turns out. I just couldn’t master the high heels and all that makeup palaver. But wearing a bra was kinda fun.
Sliding back seat and configurable false boot floor made carrying loads of varying sizes a breeze.
I digress. The point is that I had to get into an extremely atypical character to appreciate this car, and on the odd occasion I succeeded it wasn’t hard to see the appeal of that funky styling, the bright blue duco with floating black roof, the scalloped sides with black and silver swishes, the high seating position and extra headroom, the jazzy interior with its fancy seat covers and steering wheel, and the flexible boot space with a false floor that could be angled so your shopping didn’t go everywhere. Yep, it was fun pretending to be a girl.
But still it didn’t work for me. The technically impressive yet mere 898cc three-cylinder engine, even with the help of a turbocharger, just couldn’t get the job done adequately, and it only comes with a manual gearbox. Seriously, since when do us chicks do manuals?
I really wanted to see what the Captur was like with the bigger four-cylinder turbo engine and an automatic transmission, so I grabbed one for a few weeks and my opinion changed completely. Of course I knew the 1.2-litre would have better performance, but I didn’t expect it to change my perspective completely. Suddenly I began to appreciate its Gallic charms, which had been hidden behind expletive-riddled frustration as I tried to get the turbo triple to at least keep up with traffic flow. Now that was a given, and suddenly the minor foibles of the Captur – the hidden remote audio controls, the ’80s-style trip computer readouts, the cruise control switch down with the handbrake, the dodgy iPod connection – became what French car tragics would call character. And I didn’t mind it a bit. In fact, I asked to keep it a bit longer. Sacre bleu!
I’m also heartened that Renault’s globalisation has resulted in impressive build quality and, in the case of ‘my’ Captur, zero reliability issues. Not a fault, failure or even a single rattle during six months together. Perhaps that will come to be reflected in improved resale values in the years to come.
If I was a female – a proper one, not one of the Caitlyn Jenner variety – I think I could be drawn to the Renault. But like probably 99 percent of Captur buyers, I’d order the equally economical four-cylinder with the auto. Ca va?
Read part five of our 2015 Renault Captur long term review here.
This article was originally published in Wheels Magazine November 2015.