Renault’s Captur is a success story: more than 1.2 million of the fashionable compact SUV have been sold since 2013. In the course of its life so far, it has already become a sought-after everyday companion with its homely interior, skilful design, two-tone paint finish and many customization options. For the second generation, which was launched on 11. When the Captur was launched on January 1, 2020, Dutch design chief Laurens van den Acker not only spruced it up, but also gave it a technical makeover. This is made possible by the 85 percent new platform on which the Renault Clio and Nissan Juke are also based. And an LPG engine is also on board.
LPG? This is not the abbreviation for Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft, which existed in the GDR. The abbreviation LPG stands for “Liquefied Petroleum Gas” and indicates that LPG is a liquefied petroleum gas – a gas mixture of propane and butane liquefied under pressure, which is a by-product of gasoline production. The gas tank itself is made of 3.5-millimeter-thick steel and may only be filled to a maximum of 80 percent for safety reasons; this is ensured by a special differential pressure valve. And the multi-valve ensures a controlled release of the gas in the event of damage. An LPG car is therefore by no means more dangerous than a gasoline-powered car.
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Fuel costs halved
The biggest advantage of LPG over gasoline is the significant cost savings when refueling. This means that fuel costs for the same vehicle can be cut by around half in LPG mode – despite an additional consumption of around 20 percent in gas mode. Another advantage: LPG is more environmentally friendly than gasoline. Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by around 15 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 80 percent. In addition, the Saarland University of Applied Sciences has found that the alternative fuel can reduce particulate emissions by up to 99 percent compared to gasoline-powered gasoline engines. And compared to diesel cars, LPG models emit only fiftieth of the harmful nitrogen oxides.
However, tax incentives for this environmentally friendly fuel will incomprehensibly expire at the end of 2022. Until then, the tax advantage of LPG will be reduced by 20 percent annually. Experts estimate that a liter of LPG would then cost 75 to 80 cents instead of the current price of 52 cents. This is still less than half the price of a liter of gasoline. Because from 2021, drivers will be rubbing their eyes at the gas station: A so-called “CO2 price” – one may also clearly call it a new tax increase – will also make gasoline and diesel more expensive starting next year. The federal government announced this on 8.October 2020 decided. According to the CAR Institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen, gasoline will then become seven cents more expensive per liter from 2021, 9.7 cents in 2022, 11.4 cents in 2023, 14.6 cents in 2024 and 17.2 cents in 2025. For diesel, this new tax is even higher: starting in 2021, diesel is to become more expensive by 9.2 cents, then by eleven cents in 2022, then by 12.8 cents in 2023, then by 16.5 cents in 2024, and finally by 20.2 cents in 2025. The German government has not yet revealed how the “CO2 price” will continue to rise after that..
That’s where a brand-new Renault Captur with an efficient autogas drive ex works comes in handy. The Captur TCe 100 LPG Experience. It is only available from this second-highest equipment level and costs 21 euros with a manual five-speed transmission.152.94 euros. This makes it only 974.69 euros more expensive than the entry-level TCe 90 model in the same equipment Experience with 90 hp gasoline engine, but manual six-speed transmission.
The new Captur looks beefier, the car looks more modern. The sharp taillights take up the momentum of the eye-catching daytime running lights. The crossover has changed its character – instead of a feminine, soft shape, it now comes in a masculine, angular form. And 4.23 meters in length are eleven centimeters more than before.
Plenty of space – but high loading sill
The rear passengers may be pleased thus about two centimeters more knee clearance. However, most of the increase in length has gone into the luggage compartment. The second-generation Captur offers the largest trunk in its class – up to 536 liters normal, and up to 1.275 liters with the rear seat folded down. Thanks to the double load floor, a flat surface is created. The rear seat, which slides 16 centimeters, is as practical as in the predecessor. Unfortunately, the 78-centimeter loading sill is uncomfortably high.
The new Renault Captur welcomes you after opening the door with a warm signal tone: “Hello, welcome to my home!”A funny gag. Just like the perfectly functioning Keycard Handsfree System for keyless entry. When approaching, the Captur opens, when leaving, it closes. Automatic, with a light beep and friendly flash to make sure the Captur is secure.
Although there is still quite a bit of hard plastic in the test car in the mid-range Experience trim, the plastic is neatly finished and looks like something more. Many switches have chrome inlays, and the screen shines brilliantly like a high-quality smartphone. The “leather-look steering wheel” doesn’t feel plasticky at all and sits well in the hand. By the way, the menus in the center display between the two luminous analog round clocks can be easily selected via steering wheel buttons – without having to study the operating instructions beforehand! What more could you want?
More torque than a gasoline engine
The front seats are firmly upholstered for a French car and offer good lateral support. However, the tester misses an effective lumbar support. After five hours of nonstop driving, he senses something is wrong. The back “sags” because it is not supported enough. It’s a pity that Renault is still sticking to the antiquated, heavy-handed adjustment of the backrest angle by ratchet.
The newly developed bivalent drive with 100 hp strong three-cylinder gasoline engine with conventional multi-point injection and exhaust gas turbocharger fits optimally to the altogether friendly layout. Renault does not use a balancer shaft on the triplet in order to make the engine run more smoothly. Instead, a conventional dual-mass flywheel and a vibration damper on the crankshaft are used. This design makes it possible to dispense with additional counterweights on the crankshaft so as not to drive the weight up unnecessarily. And unlike earlier LPG variants, the new optimized LPG engine no longer compromises performance compared to the gasoline-only engine. The TCe 100 LPG, for example, with 170 newton meters at 2,000 rpm, also mobilizes more torque in LPG mode than the gasoline TCe 90, which has 160 newton meters at 2,750 rpm and, interestingly, now has ten hp less.
Acoustically inconspicuous three-cylinder
The engine in the mini-SUV is well muffled, even at 181 km/h according to GPS measurements (factory specification 175 km/h) the car remained surprisingly refined, and little was heard from the engine. Chapeau, Renault! The one-liter turbo is not only an acoustically inconspicuous three-cylinder engine, it is also remarkably elastic: even from low revs around 1000 rpm, it accelerates without a murmur. This makes for very lazy shifting and fuel-saving driving. If you enjoy saving money, this is the right car for you. The driver can stay in high gear for a long time. And that’s a good thing, because the LPG Captur only has a five-speed manual transmission that proves surprisingly clumsy when changing gears quickly. This is not what one is used to with today’s new cars. In ECO driving mode and with a forward-looking driving style that does not require driving slowly, consumption values of around seven to eight liters per 100 kilometers can be achieved in LPG mode in normal everyday use. The practical consumption of the Captur over the 1400 kilometer test drive, including some fast highway stages, settled at a very good 7.3 liters of LPG per 100 kilometers, which is only 0.2 liters above the factory specification according to WLTP measurement. Thus 100 kilometers cost only 3.72 euro with a liter price of at present 51.9 cent! With these extremely low fuel costs, neither a modern diesel nor an electric car can compete. You can’t drive a car any cheaper at the moment!
Switchable from gas to gasoline
However, only those who always drive on LPG, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than gasoline, drive cleverly. One tank of fuel provides a range of at least 400 kilometers. Speaking of refueling. It’s almost as fast as the gasoline engine. The only thing that needs to be done is to screw the pistol-like fuel system onto the adapter and lock it in place, which is uncomplicated. And because the Captur with its bivalent drive system has a 48-liter gasoline tank in addition to the 40-liter LPG steel tank, a theoretical total range of over 1000 kilometers is possible with a practical consumption of 5.4 liters of Super E10 (only 0.3 liters above the factory specification). No one has to worry about not finding an LPG pump either. As at 1. In October, there are 6196 service stations in Germany with an LPG pump. So statistically at every second gas station. However, the switch between gasoline and LPG looks more like a DIY store retrofit solution. Unfortunately, Renault has chosen the worst possible place for this toggle switch with pi mal thumb display: Bottom left next to the steering wheel; you have to bow to see this toggle switch.
The new platform enables the use of various assistance systems. A cross-traffic alert system and a 360-degree camera are available for the first time. The newly developed Easy Link multimedia system works with smartphones via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as standard from the mid-range trim level onwards. Possible updates for navigation and software are carried out automatically without any intervention from the driver.
Conclusion: The Captur is a handsome, pleasant to drive, well-suspended car that can be taken on longer journeys without hesitation. How ideally such a well-made small SUV fits into everyday life. Get in casually, sit up high, drive comfortably and, thanks to the sliding rear seat, have the flexibility to take children or boxes with you. That is clever. And above all, the LPG Capture is not only more environmentally friendly than a gasoline-powered car, it is also unrivaled in terms of price. This makes it all the more incomprehensible that only a few manufacturers still offer LPG cars ex works. While until 2019 there were seven manufacturers (Dacia, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Opel and Renault), there are now only three – Fiat, Dacia and just Renault.