When it comes to small plug-in hybrid SUVs available on the market, the choice stops very quickly. Renault, with the Captur E-Tech, is quite simply the only one to offer a PHEV engine in the niche, for the moment! Result, it is necessary to ogle the side of the upper segment to find a rival more or less approaching. The Volvo XC40 Recharge, for example, is one of the benchmarks of the genre.
As much to defuse any misunderstanding from the start, we will certainly not identify a winner in this match which is not one. At least on purely objective criteria, the confrontation rather aimed at gauging the Renault Captur E-Tech and its atypical technology against the yardstick of a more classic PHEV engine.
Obviously, a Captur is much smaller than a Volvo XC40 (4.22 m against 4.43 m long), less livable, less vast. The tank offset under the floor (the battery is under the bench seat) reduces the Captur's boot to 261 l, while the XC40 accommodates its own in the central tunnel so as to preserve a very respectable volume of 460 l. Less chic too, unsurprisingly. Even if the Captur made great efforts to present, no comparison possible: Volvo is now evolving in the world of premium … An XC40 is logically much more opulent and rather struggles against the BMW X1 and other Mercedes GLA. Possibly, the Mini Countryman is also recently offered in PHEV.
Expensive against (almost) cheap
Impossible to hesitate, in principle. If the XC40 customers fall for the stylistic effects and the neat look of the Scandinavian adventurer, paying the price is completely secondary. Minimum 47,400 euros for the XC40 PHEV, called Recharge. Completely unthinkable sacrifice for the client of a much more pragmatic Captur, which starts at 33,700 euros in E-Tech … and even benefit from a bonus of 2,000 euros. Obviously, with a difference of more than 15,000 euros, the comparison is hardly possible and their worlds certainly do not seem made to meet.
20 cm, 100 hp and 15,000 euros difference: no, they do not play quite in the same court. But their plug-in hybrids are among the most interesting on the market.
Reading the technical sheet also shows a gulf between the two cars. 100 hp difference to the advantage of the Swedish, and the times logically go in the same direction. Even if the XC40 must take 1,870 kg, or 300 kg more than the Captur E-Tech, it accelerates and obviously picks up much stronger (0 to 100 km / h in 7.3 s, almost 3 seconds faster than the Renault). Only, the stopwatch is rarely a justice of the peace on its own for PHEVs (except for a Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid for example) … which prefer to advance the virtuous argument of their "zero emissions" capabilities, or their approval.
Two masteries of the hybrid
The bonus for originality goes to Renault, which advances a amazing automatic clutch box associated with a small secondary electric motor acting as synchro, clutch, and alternator-starter. We described this system from the competition in our test of the Captur E-Tech. The thermal part is provided by an atmospheric 4-cylinder 1.6 l of relatively modest power: only 91 hp. Combined with the main electric motor, strong of 66 hp, the power then rises to 160 hp including the secondary engine (34 hp).
Three turbo cylinders for Volvo, 4 atmo cylinders on the Renault side. The technical solutions differ, but both demonstrate high level approval. Each in their own way: the lap times for the XC40, the smoothness for the Captur.
Volvo uses a more traditional mechanics. A small 3-cylinder supercharged with very high efficiency (1.5 l, for 180 hp!), Associated with a 7-speed double-clutch gearbox and a 82 hp electric motor. In both cases, the operation is smooth and the insulation successful. Renault side, however, the strong demands are manifested by a runaway thermal engine which sometimes recalls the "slippage" of a CVT gearbox. All things considered, the phenomenon is fortunately marginal.
Everything is not perfect behind the wheel of the XC40, where we plague from time to time about the variations in brake consistency, depending on the battery charge. Less obvious inconvenience Renault side, which also preserves its road qualities. Quiet comfort always in order, while the XC40 has exaggeratedly tightened its suspensions to cash in on the overweight … Without really gaining in dynamism. The front axle is also quickly overtaken by the generous cavalry.
The Captur takes a significant advantage when it comes to evolving into all-electric. The very interest of these engines, moreover. Despite a battery of slightly smaller capacity (9.8 kWh against 10.7 kWh), its range is significantly greater in the city: we travel easily fifty kilometers in town (65 km announced). We also noted 45 km of autonomy on a varied route, including ten kilometers of expressway at 110 km / h.
Pay more than 30,000 euros for a Captur? It's daring, but it's the cheapest PHEV on the market. Much less expensive in any case than the XC40 Recharge, sold for more than 47,000 euros.
Under the same conditions, the XC40 claims ten kilometers less, in both cases (around 35 km on a mixed route, 45 km on an urban and peri-urban route). The fault is its weight, and its superior power. In addition, mode B of energy recovery in deceleration (in town, that's the key!) Is more pronounced at the wheel of the Captur.
Finally, empty batteries, the greater mass of the Volvo results, unsurprisingly, in a fairly marked difference in consumption. While being relatively sober, in absolute terms: around 7.5 l / 100 on average for a mixed route, against 6.2 l for the Captur. These honorable scores obviously do not reflect the value of driving a plug-in hybrid: as usual, a PHEV only makes sense if it is charged as often as possible in order to make as many daily trips as possible. -electric. In both cases, no fast charging (and no need, for this type of use): a complete cycle will require between 7 and 9 hours on a classic domestic socket (depending on the network), and around 2 hours on a wallbox 7 , 4 kWh.