Holden Equinox VS Renault Captur
- Drives very well
- Great drivetrains
- Lots of choice for buyers
- Interior not very special
- Base model lacks safety kit of rivals
- May be thirsty in the real world
- Better looking
- Good engine
- Roomy cabin
- No rear cross-traffic alert on base model
- Hesitant transmission
- Top-spec still has options
It has been a long time coming, but this is it - the replacement for the Holden Captiva.. sort of. It’s the 2018 Holden Equinox, a new mid-sized model that will take the fight to some of the most established and successful SUVs on the Australian market.
The competitive set is daunting for a newcomer - we’re talking the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V… Some big selling models from some big name brands.
It’s not as though Holden hasn’t had a presence in this market in the past, though. The company has had the Captiva in the medium segment in the past, and there’s still going to be the seven-seat Captiva, which will soldier on as the brand’s offering in that space until the all-new Acadia arrives later in 2018.
As such the Equinox is purely a five-seat offering, and a roomy one at that - plus, there are five different versions for customers to choose from: the base model LS, the safety-focused LS+, the mid-spec LT, well-equipped LTZ and flagship LTZ-V.
So, how does it stack up? Read on to find out.
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Renault, like its French rival Peugeot, didn't quite nail the first attempt at a compact SUV. The first Captur was a Clio with some ride height and a new body and didn't quite make the cut for Australian buyers. Partly because the original engine was borderline anaemic but secondly, it was really small.
When you're French, you have more work to do in the Australian market. I don't make the rules, which is a shame for a number of reasons but my colleagues seem to think it's better this way.
Anyway, I didn't mind the old Captur but was well aware of its shortcomings. This new one - on paper at least - looks far more promising.
More market-appropriate pricing, more space, a better interior and lots more tech, the second-generation Captur even rolls on a whole new platform, promising more space and better dynamics.
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Holden Equinox 2018 range has a lot of choice for buyers, and that will be enhanced even further when the diesel models arrive later in 2018. As it stands, there is no denying the Holden magic touch has been applied to the Equinox, and it drives confidently and comfortably in almost every situation.
It is let down by a bland interior with some questionable finishes, and an exterior design that looks a little dated for a brand new model in one of the most important segments in the market.
It isn’t a class leader, then - but it is among the better options in the class. This writer’s pick would be the LS+, which has the best comfort, peace of mind and a more-than-adequate drivetrain for most people’s needs.
Would you go for the 1.5-litre model? Or do you subscribe to the notion that there's no replacement for displacement? Let us know in the comments section below.
The second-generation Captur's arrival coincides with the brand's transfer to a new distributor and a fiercely competitive market still bruised and battered from a shocking 2020.
It certainly looks the part and is also priced the part. Without a doubt, the mid-spec Zen is the one to go for unless you want the extra electro-trickery available on the Intens, which is quite a lot more expensive.
Setting aside my fondness for French cars, this one looks and feels more competitive in the compact SUV market. If you cover a lot of ground every year - or want the option to do so - you should really take a second look at the servicing structure, too, because in the Captur 30,000km in a year means a single service rather than three in turbo-engined rivals. That might be a bit niche, but even over the life of a car where you average 15,000km per year, it will make a difference.
I guess you could say that it is interestingly styled, in that it doesn’t really look very much like anything else in the Holden stable.
I mean, if you squint you can see a bit of Astra sedan (Chevrolet Cruze) about it, and maybe some Trax, too. Some makers are nailing the whole 'brand identity' thing, but that’s not so easy for Holden, which has sourced from the European market and the North American market. The Equinox, for instance, is built in Mexico, primarily for the US, where it sells in big numbers.
That aside, there’s something about the look of it that has a familiarity to it. I personally think it would have been right at home in a 2005 model range line-up, because there are a lot of deep character lines and swooshes, stuff that has seemingly gone a bit out of fashion in recent years as companies push for 'European styling'. And in the same breath, I’d say that the D-pillar is more than a bit reminiscent of a Mercedes-Benz GLE…
The entry-level models have 17-inch wheels with big chubby tyres that look a little naff, but 18s and 19s on the higher-spec versions, not to mention the LED headlights on the flagship LTZ and LTZ-V (models below have LED daytime running lights).
The interior falls short of the styling highs we’ve seen in competitor cars, too. It isn’t as high-tech or sexy as, say, a CX-5, Tucson or Sportage. But it does have the practicality side of things sorted.
I had to twice check this was the new Captur, but really, it's just the profile that is most like the older car. The new one is a bit bolder and less jacked-up Clio.
The Life and Zen look pretty much the same apart from the Zen's (optional) two-tone paint jobs but the Intens looks pretty classy with its bigger wheels and additional materials changes.
The new interior is a vast improvement over the old one. The plastics are way nicer and they have to be because hardly anyone has plastics as bad as that old car anymore.
The new one has more comfortable seats, too, and I really like the revised dash. It feels much more modern, is better-designed and the little paddle for the audio controls has finally been updated and is way easier to use. It also clears the steering wheel of buttons, which I quite like.
The Equinox is undoubtedly one of the more practical and spacious models in the segment - up there alongside the brilliantly practical Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan - and a lot of that comes down to the fact that there aren’t seven seats squeezed in, and it’s on the bigger side of things for the class.
With dimensions of 4652mm long, a wheelbase of 2725mm and a width of 1843mm, it certainly has the supersized American market in mind. For context: Toyota RAV4 is 4605mm long (2660mm wheelbase) and 1845mm wide; Hyundai Tucson is 4475mm long (2670mm wheelbase) and 1850mm wide; Mazda CX-5 is 4540mm long (2700mm wheelbase) and 1840mm wide.
The result of the Equinox's extra footprint is a roomy cabin, easily large enough for a family of five. There are three top-tether anchor points and dual outboard ISOFIX attachments, and Holden claims a massive, class-leading boot capacity of 846 litres with the back seats in place, and 1798L with them folded down in a 60/40 fashion.
The higher-spec models have remote release levers in the boot area to drop the seats, too, and the LTZ and LTZ-V versions have a hands-free tailgate, which is handy if your digits are otherwise occupied.
There are cupholders up front and in the back, and the door pockets are a good size, too, with space for a bottle or (fold-up) umbrella. A central storage bin in front of the gear selector allows enough space for wallets and phones, while the console between the front seats is massive.
High-spec models (again, LTZ and LTZ-V) have four USB ports to keep the kids’ devices charged on road trips, plus there’s a 230-volt powerpoint in the back seat. The rest of the range makes do with a single USB port, and a couple of 12-volt plugs.
The media system you get depends on the model you choose. LS and LS+ models have a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring tech and Bluetooth, while the LT, LTZ and LTZ-V have a slightly more attractive (but no more intuitive) 8.0-inch touchscreen with the same tech, plus sat nav (including live traffic updates).
The interior presentation is a little bland and dated, and there’s an array of hard plastics throughout that don’t imbue the cabin with a sense of luxury - while competitor SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan can feel like expensive cars that have been de-specified, the air the Equinox gives off is one of a more affordable car that has been tarted up.
That’s not to say it’s unpleasant - I liked the leather on the seats in the up-spec models (and the seat cooling on the humid day of my test drive), but I reckon the fabric trim in the lower-spec models has a bit more character and charm to it.
You get a massive boot to start with - bigger even than the fabled 408 litres of the Honda HR-V. Renault starts you with 422 litres and then adds underfloor storage. When you push the seats forward and include the hidey-hole under the false floor, you end up with 536 litres.
Of course, that sliding will affect rear legroom. When the rear seats are all the way back, this is a lot more comfortable than the old car, with more head and knee room, although it's no match for the Seltos or HR-V in that respect. Not far off, though.
Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and you have 1275 litres, a not-quite-flat floor and 1.57m long floor space, 11cm more than before.
The French approach to cupholders continues. There are just two in this car, but they are at least useful rather than the frustratingly small ones in the out-going model.
Rear seat passengers don't get cupholders or an armrest, but there are bottle holders in all four doors and - joy of joys - air vents in the back. Bit weird to have no armrest even in the top-spec Intens, though.
Price and features
The new Holden Equinox 2018 model range isn't the outright most affordable mid-size SUV on the market, nor is it pushing the limits in terms of pricing. It's a middle-ground player.
The entry-level Holden Equinox LS is the only model available with a manual transmission, and it starts things off at $27,990. The automatic version adds two grand ($29,990). It's powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, and is only available in front-wheel drive (FWD).
The LS has 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, and the automatic has what Holden calls 'Active Noise Cancellation'.
Next up in the range is the LS+ at $32,990, which runs the same 1.5L auto drivetrain as the LS. The LS+ adds a leather steering wheel and power folding side mirrors.
It also adds a heap of safety equipment - some of it, arguably, that should be included in the low-spec car.
The list is topped by auto emergency braking (AEB), but packaged alongside that tech is a range of other potentially life-saving stuff: lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
Additionally, there’s blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto high-beam assist, and Holden’s 'Safety Alert' driver’s seat, which will vibrate to warn the driver of potential hazards.
Next up the list is the LT, at $36,990, which gets a bigger engine than the two lower-spec models - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit with plenty of extra poke: 188kW and 353Nm, or about 48 per cent more power and 28 per cent more torque than the entry-level cars. Gone, too, is the six-speed automatic, with a new nine-speed auto transmission taking its place. A diesel will be available later in 2018.
The LT builds on the LS+ model, upgrading to 18-inch alloy wheels, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, sat nav with live traffic updates, four USB points (two front, two rear) a 230-volt powerpoint in the second row, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, HID headlights and provision for roof-rack mounting.
The LTZ uses the same 2.0L drivetrain, and is available in FWD at $39,990 or all-wheel drive (AWD) at $44,290. A diesel will come for it, too.
It upsizes to 19-inch alloy wheels, while also adding a hands-free power tailgate, semi-automated parking (parallel and perpendicular), rain-sensing wipers, leather-appointed seats, wireless phone charging, heated front and rear seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, roof rails, DAB+ digital radio, LED headlights and tail-lights, and a Bose premium sound system.
The flagship LTZ-V comes solely in AWD and costs $46,290 - which effectively makes it a $2000 jump over the LTZ AWD, running the same 2.0L/nine-speed auto. A diesel will be offered later.
The LTZ-V adds a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, power adjustable passenger seat, and ventilated (cooling) front seats.
So, there’s something for everyone, really. I just reckon maybe the LS and LS+ should have been merged into one model with the safety kit…
The three-tier range starts at $28,190, before on-road costs, for the Captur Life and comes with 17-inch wheels, a cloth interior, auto headlights, air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 7.0-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen, full LED headlights (that’s a nice touch), front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a space saver spare.
Irritatingly, if you want the extra safety that's standard on the Zen and Intens, you have to spend another $1000 on the 'Peace of Mind' package, which also adds electric folding mirrors and takes you to $29,190, $1600 short of the Zen which has all this and more.
So think carefully about a Life with a package. I would put a modest sum of money on the idea that few people will buy the Life.
Step up to the Zen and for $30,790 you get the extra safety gear, walk-away auto-locking, a heated leather steering wheel, auto wipers, two-tone paint option, climate control, keyless entry and start (with the Renault key card) and wireless phone charging.
Then there's a big jump to the Intens, a whole five grand to $35,790. You get 18-inch wheels, a bigger 9.3-inch touchscreen in portrait mode, sat nav, BOSE sound system, 7.0-inch digital dashboard display, LED interior lighting, 360-degree cameras and leather seats.
The 'Easy Life' package is available on the Intens and adds auto parking, side parking sensors, auto high beam, a bigger 10.25-inch digital dash and frameless rear vision mirror for $2000.
And you can get the 'Orange Signature' package for no bucks. Which adds orange stuff to the interior and deletes the leather, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Not because the leather is bad, I just prefer cloth.
The new Renault touchscreens are good and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but I can only speak for the bigger 9.3-inch system which is similar to the Megane's.
You get digital radio on top of AM/FM radio and six speakers (Life, Zen) or nine speakers (Intens).
These prices are more competitive than the older car. That seems fair because there's a lot more in it and prices are inexorably creeping northwards at the other brands.
Missing out of the range is the plug-in hybrid version, which is sad for a couple of reasons.
The first is that first-mover advantage could work in Renault's favour and secondly, its French rival Peugeot is pricing its new 2008 way higher than the Captur, so a PHEV could almost be cheaper - one imagines - than a top-spec, petrol-only 2008.
Engine & trans
The entry-level engine offering is a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 127kW of power and 275Nm of torque. It comes with a six-speed manual (LS only) or six-speed automatic, and is FWD only.
The other drivetrain on offer is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with a class-leading 188kW of power and 353Nm of torque. It is solely mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, but can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive (the LT is FWD only, the LTZ is FWD with the option of AWD, and the LTZ-V is AWD only).
The AWD model employs a clever system that can allow the driver to effectively disconnect the rear drive axle, in order to help save fuel - it is controlled by a button near the gear selector. If the car is in AWD mode it will generally default to front-drive, but can split torque up to 50:50 front to rear if slip is detected. The AWD model also has revised suspension and a higher ride height.
A diesel model will be added to the range later in 2018, with that drivetrain being a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit producing 100kW/320Nm. It will come exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, but will be offered in FWD or AWD.
Towing capacity is 750kg for an unbraked trailer on all models, while the 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel have towing capacity of 1500kg for a braked trailer, and the 2.0-litre petrol has a 2000kg braked towing capacity. That’s good, but not a benchmark for the segment (Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI: 2500kg).
All Capturs run the same 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine delivering a mildly impressive 113kW at 5500rpm and 270Nm at 1800rpm, which should make for some reasonable speed.
Both numbers are slightly higher than the original Captur, with power up by 3.0kW and torque by 20Nm.
Weighing in at a maximum of 1381kg, this enthusiastic engine will push the Captur from 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, over half a second quicker than before and a touch quicker than most of its rivals.
Claimed fuel consumption for the 1.5-litre drivetrain is 6.9L/100km for the manual and automatic variants. Our launch drive saw a much higher return, due to some pretty spirited driving: 10.4L/100km.
The 2.0-litre version is a bit thirstier, thanks to its extra grunt. It is claimed to use 8.2L/100km for the FWD model and 8.4L/100km for the AWD. On our launch drive, we saw 9.7L/100km
The diesel, when it comes, will be the most frugal in the Equinox line-up - exact figures haven’t been revealed at this stage, however.
Renault says the Captur's 1.3-litre engine will drink premium unleaded (important point, that) at the rate of 6.6L/100km.
That's a more sensible baseline figure than the previous car's sub-6.0 official combined cycle figure and after some web sleuthing appears to be the more accurate WLTP testing number.
As we had the car for a brief time, the 7.5L/100km is probably not representative of real-world fuel use, but it's a good guide nonetheless.
From the 48-litre tank, you should get 600 to 700km between fills. As you might expect, being a European car, it does want premium unleaded.
It’s as though Holden’s engineers have waved a magic wand and made the Equinox - a big-for-its-class SUV - drive much smaller, and with much more confidence than you might expect.
The steering is the highlight - Holden has nailed the electric power steering system for feel and weighting, with excellent response whether you’re simply twirling the wheel at low speeds to park, or pushing it through a series of corners. There’s bugger-all in the way of torque-steer, too (that’s where the steering wheel will tug to the side when you accelerate).
The suspension, too, is a compliant and comfortable balance of control and plushness. Only in the models with the 18- or 19-inch wheels do you start to notice some terseness, and that comes down to both the extra weight of those variants and the lower profile tyres.
The LS and LS+, then, are the models that are the peachiest of the five variants. With 17-inch wheels and chubby 65 profile Continental rubber, the pliancy was excellent, as was the grip.
That said, the turning circle in the LTZ-V, in particular, is poor - 12.7m, which is worse than a lot of much bigger dual-cab utes.
The drivetrain in the LS+, too, was a fuss-free affair: it never felt underdone with two burly adults and some luggage on board, easily dealing with pushing away from intersections and rapid-fire overtaking moves without hassle.
The 2.0-litre is undeniably faster, and it’s also pleasantly refined. There’s a level of effortless to the way it pulls away, but it never really feels quite as potent as, say, the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI (with 162kW/350Nm) - and that is, in part, down to the weight of the Equinox. It’s a bit of a tubby thing, tipping the scales at 1778kg (kerb weight) in the top-spec LTZ-V. For comparison’s sake, the aforementioned top-spec Tiguan is 1637kg…
The moral here is, then, that less can be more. Make sure you drive the 1.5-litre…
Straight up, I will remind you of my fondness for French cars and the way they go about their business. Renault has been on strong form for some time now in the ride and handling department, even on tiny cars with rear torsion beam suspension.
Where the previous Captur was let down was a common French failing - weak engines that work fine in the European market but don't go down so well in Australia.
Even though I quite liked the old Captur, I got why nobody bought it (relatively speaking). This new one feels good from the second you park your bum in the driver's seat, with good, comfortable support, great vision forward (less so back, but that was the same in the old one) and the steering wheel even has a subtle flattened edge at the top if you have to set the wheel high.
The 1.3-litre turbo is a bit grumbly and gristly on start-up and never really loses a slightly odd, reedy harmonic coming through the firewall, but it's a strong performer for its size and works (mostly) well with the seven-speed dual-clutch.
Renault's old six-speeder was quite good and the seven works just fine except for a slight hesitation from step-off and is sometimes reluctant to kick down.
I blame fuel-saving rather than ham-fisted calibration, because when you punch the weird flower button and switch to Sport mode, the Captur comes good.
With a more aggressive transmission and a slightly livelier throttle, the Captur is much happier in this mode and so was I. The steering is light and direct and there's no real pretence in the suspension for off-road use which is fine by me because it means it's great fun on the road.
It kind of feels like a GT-Line version rather than out of the box standard tune. I don't know if there's a softer version available, but if there is, I'm glad Renault Australia chose this one.
And despite being fun to drive, the ride is almost uniformly excellent. Like any car with torsion beams, it's unsettled by big potholes or those horrible rubber speed bumps, but so is an air-suspended German car.
It's also fairly quiet except when you've got your foot to the floor and even then it's barely an inconvenience rather than a genuine problem.
At the time of writing there hadn’t been an ANCAP crash test performed on the new Holden Equinox, but the brand made specific reference to an expectation of a five-star score during a presentation to media at the launch.
Still, there’s an elephant in the room - the LS. If it were 2014 we would have applauded Holden for offering a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, ESP and ABS, and six airbags in a family SUV. But it’s not 2014, and times have changed.
That’s what makes the LS’s lack of standard safety equipment disappointing, because the brand had the chance to take it to its mainstream rivals with a strong safety package across its entire model line-up. Yet here we are, and those on a tight budget will miss out on the latest tech - maybe those buyers will head to a Toyota dealer, as the RAV4 now has a pre-collision warning with auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure alert, active cruise control and automatic high beam.
You can’t get active cruise control on any Equinox, but every model from the LS+ up has safety kit coming out the wazoo. Those models have the 'Holden Eye' camera safety system with AEB, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning. Additionally, there’s blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and auto high-beam assist, and Holden’s Safety Alert driver’s seat, which will vibrate to warn the driver of potential hazards.
You get six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (up to 170km/h) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (10-80km/h), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
If you want blind spot monitoring and reverse cross-traffic alert on the entry-level, you have to step up to the Zen or pay $1000 for the Peace of Mind package.
Given the marginal rear visibility and the ordinary resolution on the reversing camera, the omission of RCTA is annoying. I know Kia and various other rivals offer the safety as extra, but this is an important feature.
Euro NCAP awarded the Captur a maximum five stars and ANCAP is offering the same rating.
If you buy a Holden Equinox (or any other Holden) before January 1, 2018 you will get the brand’s limited offer seven-year/175,000km warranty. If you buy one after that, you’ll get the bog-stock three-year/100,000km plan - another peculiar move from Holden, especially for a brand that needs a good news story at the end of a treacherous year for the company.
The service intervals for the Equinox will be 12 months/12,000km, which is better than some of the other models in the company’s showroom that require maintenance every nine months.
As with all Holden products, the company will back the Equinox with a capped-price service campaign for the life of the car. The first seven services, no matter the engine, average out at $310 per go.
Renault sends you home with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and a year of roadside assist. Every time you return to a Renault dealer for service, you get a further year, to a maximum of five.
The capped-price servicing runs for five years/150,000km. That suggests you can cover up to a massive 30,000km per year and only have to service it once, which is exactly what Renault reckons you can do. So yeah - service intervals are genuinely set at 12 months/30,000km.
The first three and then fifth services each cost $399, while the fourth is almost double at $789, which is a solid jump.
So, over the five years you'll be paying a total of $2385 for an average of $596 per year. If you do a ton of kilometres, that will really work for you because most turbo-engined cars in this segment have much shorter service intervals, around 10,000km or 15,000km if you're lucky.