The Captur story dates back to the 2011 Geneva motor show, when Renault took the wraps off a bold looking concept car. Two years later, the French firm wowed the crowds with a pretty looking production car, even if it lacked some of the visual drama of the original show car. Not only is the Captur the best-selling Renault in the UK, it takes the accolade for being the most popular compact SUV in Europe. But new competitors are coming thick and fast, with the Citroën C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic and SEAT Arona all landing in the UK this year. Renault is bolstering its best seller with a raft of changes and beating most of its new rivals into the showrooms.

You could never describe the Captur’s looks as bland, especially with some of the fetching two-tone colour schemes, however, Renault’s stylists have upped their game, delivering more visual drama thanks to the addition of chunky skid plates front and rear, extra chrome trim, and a Renault diamond badge now mounted on a piano black background. New headlights, including the availability of full-LED items, deliver a bolder front identity, including a C-shaped daytime running light signature. On the inside, new seats retain their handy unzippable and washable status, while an upgrade on some of the interior plastics delivers an improved ambience, together with extra chrome trim and a splash of colour. The steering wheel has been uprated with enhanced materials, while the gear lever now adopts a modern appearance. And that’s not all, the door cards have come in for some attention to, neatly integrating the door mirror and window controls.

Rounding off the changes is a suite of new colours, including two-tone schemes, and a selection of fresh alloy wheels choices. An uprated Bose audio system is now available as an option, with an automated parking system and blind spot warning two new pieces of technology to make driving easier. For 2017, the top-of-the-range Signature versions are renamed Signature X, with a new flagship Signature S model crowning the line-up. The engine line-up remains the same, with a pair of 1.5-litre dCi engines on offer with 89 or 109bhp, though from the car’s launch, the previously available EDC twin-clutch automatic edition paired to the lower powered engine isn’t available, though it is set to join the line-up later.

Our test car featured the more powerful of the two powerplants, and that endows the Captur with eager performance, aided brilliantly by the easy to operate six-speed manual gearbox. Ratio spacing is good and the clutch light. There’s good mid-range pull, and even if you’re making liberal use of the accelerator pedal, the engine never becomes raucous. The instrument cluster changes from orange to green, depending on how frugal you are behaving, giving you a nannying reminder to drive in an ecominded fashion. The steering appears more agile than before, feeling darty and fun, and makes light work of a town environment. On more challenging roads, there’s very little in the way of body lean, with excellent grip and a nicely agile feel to the chassis. And pleasingly, the suspension setup is well judged, pliant and soaks up all but the worst that UK roads can throw up.

The enhancement to the cabin materials is welcome, even though there’s still a hard instrument binnacle top amongst the softer dashboard surfaces. The door cappings are made from pliable materials, and the design of the cabin is pleasingly interesting, with nice weighting to the controls and clear, easy to operate buttons and switches. The navigation system appears small at first acquaintance, but pleases thanks to brilliantly colourful graphics and a TomTom interface that is child’s play to operate. The driving position is nicely upright, with good support from the firm seats. The backrest is adjusted by a lever and there’s more than sufficient adjustment for all drivers to get comfortable. In front of the re-profiled gear stick, there’s a handy cubby hole that also houses the USB, auxiliary and 12-volt sockets, and while the glovebox may be annoyingly narrow on account of the fusebox intrusion, there’s extra storage in the armrest and space in the door pockets, as well as a pair of cupholders between the front seats. Even with the panoramic roof there’s lots of headroom both front and back, while knee, foot and head space in the back is exceptional for a car that has such a modest footprint. Boot space is plentiful at 377 litres, and can be extended by sliding the rear seats forward and liberating 455 litres of carrying capacity, though that admittedly is at the expense of rear legroom. Tumble the rear seats down and this opens up to 1,235 litres, and with the split-level boot floor, it provides a usefully flat surface in the upper position.

On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £17,575 to £23,405
Bodystyles | 5-door crossover
Engines | 1.5 (89bhp), 1.5 (109bhp)
Trim levels | Expression+, Dynamique, Dynamique S, Signature X, Signature S
Also consider | Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008
Model tested | Dynamique S dCi 110
Price | £21,075
Made in | Valladolid, Spain
Bodystyle | 5-door crossover, 5-seats
Layout | Front-wheel-drive
Engine | 1461cc, 4-cylinder, 8-valve, turbo diesel
Stop-start | Yes
Selective catalyst reduction | No
Transmission | 6-speed manual
Maximum power | 109bhp @ 4,000rpm
Maximum torque | 192lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Top speed | 112mph 0-62mph | 11.4secs
CO2 emissions | 98g/km
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 70.6/78.5/76.4mpg
Fuel tank size | 45 litres Range | 756 miles
Insurance group | 15
Company car BIK rate | 21%
Size (length/width without mirrors) | 4,122/1,778mm
Boot space (min/max) | 377-455/1,235 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight | 1,205/1,200kg