What is it they say about children? They’re a blessing. But with recent figures showing that it costs around £200,000 to see a child into its self-sustaining years, it may be a blessing but it’s a pretty expensive one.
And as I’ve discovered in recent years, the challenges and expenses don’t end when the child becomes an adult. Soon – indeed all too soon in my case – the latest generation starts to arrive and while grandchildren don’t carry the same degree of responsibility for the grandparent, they do come with a cost, and not just financial.
I’ve always prided myself on keeping a clean and tidy car – but that was before I became a granddad. Since then, I have just had to accept that small toys work their way into the tiniest areas of a car’s interior and that sticky sweets and fizzy drinks seem to have an incredible corrosive quality all of their own. I try to enforce the rule that sticky substances, edible or otherwise, are banned from my new car but I know that even with the threat of the naughty step, there are bound to be infringements. Wipeable leather seats come into their own but short of a waterproof coating that can be hosed down or steam-cleaned after the little darlings have had their way with the interior, there’s no real answer.
At least that’s what I thought until I came across the new crossover Captur from Renault. It’s a nice-looking car, in the same kind of category as the Mini Countryman, the Peugeot 2008 or the splendid new 500L from Fiat. It’s stylish, a bit wacky in its colour schemes and looks like it’s something you could have fun with. But it’s also incredibly practical – from the rear seats which slide back and forth to increase boot space or allow more legroom for rear passengers to the superbly sensible removable and washable seat covers. OK, they’re an optional extra but, at only £100, to my mind one of the best-value add-ons for a family car I’ve come across for many years.
What’s especially good is that they don’t seem like temporary covers – coming in a range of colours, they take nothing away from the interior finish. How they’d end up after a series of cycles in the washing machine only time will tell, but it’s a clever and welcome move which will appeal to owners with young families – or anyone whose outdoor pursuits may lead to some messiness on the upholstery.
In the test car, in Dynamique spec, the boot floor was also reversible – a carpet finish on one side or wipeable/washable on the other, again a big plus if your outdoor activities take you into the muddy country or you are a regular walker of a mucky pup.
The Captur is a bold statement which highlights a resurgence by Renault, which has been in something of the doldrums in recent years. Its Clio is as popular as ever, and the electric Zoe is among the best of the new breed of alternative-powered vehicles. At the same time, their bargain basement brand of Romanian-built Dacias, especially the impressive Duster, are being snapped up by money-conscious buyers. The Captur will build on that progress and has already secured impressive residual value forecasts far superior to its rivals.
It’s the French firm’s first compact crossover and I predict you’re going to see a lot of them appearing on our roads over the next few months. Prices are attractive, starting at £12,495, but the most popular is expected to be the dCi 90 with an impressive sub-100 CO2 level, a fabulous economy of more than 76mpg and a low insurance rating. It adds up to a very affordable package but hugely practical, stylish and fun to drive at the same time.
The test car had £2,300 of options including the R–link Multimedia system with a 7inch touchscreen including three years of TomTom live subscription, Bluetooth and a superb radio with 3D sound. It’s only two-wheel drive but with a higher ride height it would be happy going off the beaten track. And with those removable seat covers it simply doesn’t matter how dirty your weekend gets.
CAR Renault Captur Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90 Stop and Start
PRICE £16,395 (£18,695 as tested)
PERFORMANCE Max speed 106 mph; 0-62 mph 13.1 secs
MPG 76mpg combined
CO2 EMISSIONS 95g/km