Hidden a gender

The two RONnies

DAVID HASSALL

RENAULT stipulates the Captur must run on premium unleaded petrol ó either 95 or 98 RON. Itís not uncommon these days with European brands that are used to better quality juice than our domestic ULP, but itís rather inconvenient (and somewhat self-defeating) in a car like the Captur that is undoubtedly bought with economy in mind.

Still, for the sake of this long-term report, it did provide an opportunity to assess the contention that higher-octane

OurGarage

The Hass survives an identity crisis and a lesson in French downsizing

AT THE risk of revealing too much about my inner self, sometimes I wish I was a girl. They might think itís a manís 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 wasnít everything theyíd 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 Iím 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 ďitís just so cuteĒ or that it doesnít matter ďso long as itís that bright metallic redĒ.

When I collected the Captur back in March, I was well aware that this was a Ďchick carí 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 couldnít master the high heels and all that makeup palaver. But wearing a bra was kinda fun.

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 wasnít 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 didnít go everywhere. Yep, it was fun pretending to be a girl.

But still it didnít work for me. The technically impressive yet mere 898cc three-cylinder engine, even with the help of a turbocharger, just couldnít 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 didnít 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 Ė the hidden remote audio controls, the í80s-style trip computer readouts, the cruise control switch down with the handbrake, the dodgy iPod connection Ė became what French car tragics would call character. And I didnít mind it a bit. In fact, I asked to keep it a bit longer. Sacre bleu!

Iím also heartened that Renaultís globalisation has resulted in impressive build quality and, in the case of Ďmyí 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 Ė a proper one, not one of the Caitlyn Jenner variety Ė I think I could be drawn to the Renault. But like probably 99 percent of Captur buyers, Iíd order the equally economical four-cylinder with the auto. Ca va?

petrol is worth the extra cost because it burns more efficiently and you therefore need to pour less of the stuff into your tank. Well, I reckon my experiment was more thorough than Byronís test with his 308 (p126) because I covered a lot more miles, but came up with a very different result. One-third of my six-month mileage was on 98 and I averaged 6.9L/100km; the rest was on (slightly) cheaper 95 and the average was 6.8L/100km. Letís be generous and call that a tie, but still an indicator that, in the case of the Captur, at least, it wasnít money well spent.

RENAULT CAPTUR TCe90

34 44 3 3 0 1 0 2 2 5 WEEK 26 Date acquired: March 2015 Price as tested: $25,540 This month: 920km @ 6.9L/100km Overall 8084km @ 6.8L/100km Dat Pric Thi Ove

URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY

FLOORED GENIUS

Sliding back seat and configurable false boot floor made carrying loads of varying sizes a breeze