I know cars at international launches are spruced up to the nines – that’s the nature of things.
It’s usually top spec and more – loads of extras to boost the sense of ‘feel-good’ factor.
Some cars can be a long way from such splendid attire when they reach these shores where mid-range trims are usually most sought after.
But even allowing for my exposure to luxury trim levels, there is no gainsaying the fact that the interior of the new Renault Captur has been transformed from the car’s weak point to a real strength.
As reported last week the new crossover will cost from ‘a whisker under €22,000’ when it arrives in Ireland in February.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out the new price represents around €1,500 of an increase. Yes, says Renault, but you are getting a new car, higher spec, lots of technology and more room.
It would say that, of course, yet all I know is there is no comparison between the old and new interiors.
There’s a new platform too which allows, among other things, for the car to be stretched by 11cm.
I found that helped rear-passenger room the most. As well as being longer, it is wider, taller and has an extended wheelbase.
Indeed, the new Captur is closer in size to the current Golf than the old one, they say.
Extra length helps boost boot space too (536 litres v old-model 445 litres) while specially designed new seats give 17mm more knee room for those in the back.
There are tried and trusted ‘new’ engines (more anon) and the promise of a hybrid early next year.
Spec levels vary, of course, but there is a new ‘smart’ cockpit, a 9.3in vertical multimedia screen, 10in digital instrument binnacle and the EASY-LINK connected multimedia services. Not a bad package at all.
They plan on three trims: Play, Iconic, S Edition with LED lights front and rear as standard; as are Android Auto and AppleCarplay.
There are several ADAS safety elements standard too and on that basis they expect a EuroNCap 5-star rating.
The Captur has always looked well so they haven’t done that much to the exterior. The nicely tucked-in rear and sharper front bonnet/lights cluster give it a bit of a lift.
There may be a hope the electric-only range in the plug-in hybrid might be tweaked from 45km to 50km – it would mean qualifying for tax relief here under new rules – but it is something of a long shot and a real pity as price will be critical.
The hybrid is expected relatively soon after the petrol and diesel versions. The plug-in, with its 9.8kWh battery, will develop a combined 150hp.
There will be TCe100, TCe130, TCe 155 petrols and dCi95, dCi115 diesels.
The TCe100 petrol and Blue dCi95 diesel (both manuals) are expected to be the most popular purchases.
Depending on what car you buy, you can have 5spd, 6spd manuals and/or a 7spd EDC dual clutch automatic.
We drove the 130hp petrol (automatic) and 115 diesel manual, neither of which will figure big-time in Irish buyers’ plans apparently.
I initially thought the diesel was just brilliant but it growled when I pushed it. The petrol had good pep but the bigger story for me was how much I liked the new gearshift in the 7spd auto.
The Greek roads threw some right decent potholes and crevices our way but only the worst of them caught the suspension unaware.
It felt a better-balanced car with the ability to take a fair bit in its stride though wheel choice would be important.
I’m reluctant to rattle on about handling and ride because 99pc of buyers will not push it as we did – and even that was fairly mild. Suffice to say it will feel even smoother on a road near you.
We just kept coming back to the inside and the effect of fresh design, and improved materials, on how the cabin new feels.
The materials on the dash and upper door trim were well above class average on one version but less so with a model/trim model we didn’t drive.
So check before ordering; the decor can make a big difference to the feel of the car.
Generally speaking, though, the Captur is a different proposition to what went before.
You will be spoilt for choice too with no fewer than 90 customisation variations and 18 interior combinations on offer.
Ali Kassai is executive vice-president of product programmes.
He was the director of the first generation of the Captur.
He remembers that when it was launched six years ago its high driving position was viewed as a huge plus – and it established the fashion for two-tone crossovers. The same applies today.
Back then there was only the Nissan Juke to compete with. Now there are in excess of 20. That makes 20+ reasons the car, but especially the cabin, has to be as good as it is.