Like most Americans, my coverage of (and interest in) Renault is decidedly spotty. I flit in and out during their press briefings, reading and becoming interested in perhaps one and three that cross this desk.
But to see the production Captur Helly Hansen was too much to dismiss! Why?
I love Helly Hansen! It is an awesome brand of outdoor apparel - in America wearing prices 2X the comparable North Face and 3X the Columbia sportswear it competes with in the mass market.
As such, it is a bit of a sweet-tooth fashion element for fancy people tired of the North Face ubiquity and also demanding quality that often only European fashion labels deliver. Thus, the Norway-based brand is a darling of the America's Cup ocean sailing race, professional Arctic explorers, and fashionable yummy mommies in glitzy towns everywhere.
My personal affinity for Helly Hansen stems broadly from these sailing origins, but also because the company makes an exceptional ballcap that fits my gigantic noggin. And parkas with a tall collar - for privacy and wind resistence!
What about the Renault Captur! It is also suitably fashionable and upmarket to appeal to similar clientele - tired of the mass-market Fords and VWs and even Land Rover LR2s that are more common in England than... fish and chips?
Red brick homes and overcast skies? Maintained humor in the face of adversity?
The five-door Captur brings a real coupe-like gracefulness to the five-door compact supermini crossover segment, with styling that seems fresh and appealing enough to even poach clients from the much-pricier Evoque and Mercedes-Benz GLA that is rolling out across the UK and wider Europe.
It is much swoopier than the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, with a rising swage line that effectively masks the presence of rear doors altogether. A bit swish, but also very functional.
This car is expected to be priced and engined to compete not with those fancy badges above, but rather the Ford EcoSport and Fiesta, as well as the Skoda Yeti and Vauxhall Mokka -- aka Chevrolet Trax.
Actually, on further analysis, the Captur is not exactly a glamorous design. It is pretty unpleasant from the front, with oversized details like the giant grille and headlights that seem ... like they might burst off the front face at any moment.
Overinflated 'minger' from hell?
Or authentic outdoor icon?
Helly Hansen seems like a good in-road to legitimacy for these yacht-aspiring individuals. The Renault Captur instantly shares some of the Helly Hansen cool points right off the bat -- which HH earned by making excellent products first, and becoming a fashion statement second.
Well done, Renault. This is not a silver bullet to solve all the world's problems, but a good step in the right direction at establishing a good market position that will sell cars to the most-fleeting of consumers: young trendies.
Official Details below from Renault.
May 05, 2014
Limited-edition Renault Captur Helly Hansen: the adventure starts here !
Renault has joined forces with the outdoor sport and leisure clothing brand Helly Hansen to market the first Renault Captur to feature Extended Grip, a system designed to optimise traction performance whatever the conditions.
Exclusively, the limited-edition Helly Hansen version of Captur can be ordered in Flamme Red, and generous use of the colour has been made inside the cabin, too. The rugged appeal of this version of Renault’s urban crossover is reinforced by the fitment of front and rear skid plates and 17-inch wheels.
Renault Captur Helly Hansen’s standard equipment package includes the R-Link multimedia tablet with touchscreen display, plus a long list of other comfort-enhancing features.
Leather upholstery is also available exclusively for this limited-edition version (standard or optional depending on market).
Any of the engines available in the Captur catalogue can be specified for the limited-edition Helly Hansen version which is due to go on sale in June in most European markets, followed by a september release date for France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
The range of the brand’s first urban crossover, Renault Captur, has been expanded by the introduction of a new limited-edition Helly Hansen version developed in association with the celebrated Norwegian outdoor sport and leisure clothing brand founded in 1877. The new addition features a distinctive adventurer look thanks to its exclusive Flamme Red finish, making it the only version of the model to offer this body colour, as well as to its Platine Grey front and rear skid plates and 17-inch black diamond-effect alloy wheels. HH badging on the wings portray indicates the car’s association with Helly Hansen.
Captur Helly Hansen can be ordered in one of four two-tone finishes:
Flamme Red with a black or ivory roof,
Etoilé Black with an ivory roof,
Cassiopée Grey with a black roof,
Ivory with a black roof.
The limited-edition Helly Hansen version of Captur is equipped with exclusive new leather seats (standard or optional depending on market). Other specific interior embellishments include red dashboard trim strips, a ‘carbon fibre’ motif for the steering wheel insert, chrome door sill guards and front carpet mats.
Additional grip to facilitate driving whatever the conditions.
Renault Captur Helly Hansen is also equipped with the Extended Grip system first seen on Renault Scénic X-Mod in 2013.
This advanced technology is an evolution of the traction control system designed to optimise grip in difficult conditions, such as snow, mud, sand, etc.
A rotary control on the centre console allows the driver to select the ideal mode for the conditions. There are three modes (‘Road’, ‘Loose Ground’ and ‘Expert’), the first of which is the default choice for hard surfaces (dry, wet or ice).
The ‘Loose Ground’ mode puts the Extended Grip system in charge of the driven wheels. Engine torque and braking effort are automatically adjusted to permit more front wheel spin. This allows the M&S tyres (Mud and Snow) to clear mud or sand more effectively and therefore benefit from better grip.
By selecting the ‘Expert’ mode, the driver can control the delivery of engine torque to accelerate as he or she sees fit, while leaving optimisation of the braking effort to the system.
The Extended Grip system automatically reverts to ‘Road’ mode at speeds in excess of 40kph is the ‘Loose Ground’ or ‘Expert’ mode has been selected.
The system necessitates the fitment of Mud and Snow tyres, the specific tread pattern of which enables them to clear mud, sand or soft snow more efficiently.
In addition to its R-Link multimedia system with touchscreen display, Renault Captur Helly Hansen comes with the following standard equipment:
Automatic dipped beam headlight and windscreen-wiper activation,
60/40-split sliding rear bench seat with three head rests. The bench seat can be tipped forward to form a flat floor,
Automatic climate control,
17-inch diamond-effect black alloy wheels with specific all-weather tyres,
Electric front and rear windows (one-touch function for driver’s window),
Reversible, washable boot floor lining,
Fog lights with cornering function,
Front and rear skid plates,
Rear parking sensors or reversing camera (depending on market),
Stowage pockets in front seat backs,
Removable central stowage unit,
Cruise control with speed limiter,
Electric folding door mirrors,
Chrome front sill guards,
Mixed TEP/fabric or leather upholstery with heating front seats (depending on market),
ABS with Emergency Brake Assist, ESC and Hill Start Assist,
Extended Grip system,
Driver and front passenger carpet mats,
Easy Life drawer,
Extra-tinted rear glass,
Height- and reach-adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The limited-edition Helly Hansen version can be specified with any one of the engines currently available for Renault Captur: Energy TCe90, TCe120 with EDC automatic transmission, or Energy dCi90 with manual gearbox or automatic EDC transmission.
The limited-edition Captur Helly Hansen will go on sale across most of Europe in June, followed by its release in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain in September. Prices will be published soon by the individual markets concerned.
About Helly Hansen Brand
Founded in Norway, in 1877, Helly Hansen continues to protect and enable professionals making their living on oceans and mountains around the world. Their apparel, developed through a blend of Scandinavian design and insights drawn from living in some of the harshest environments on earth, helps provide the confidence professionals need to step out into the elements and complete their jobs.
The company invented the first supple, waterproof fabrics more than 130 years ago, created the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s and introduced the first technical baselayers made with Lifa® Stay Dry Technology in the 1970s. Today, Helly Hansen is the official uniform partner for more than 60 ski resorts and mountain guiding operations and has outfitted more than 33,000 mountain professionals. The brand's outerwear, baselayers, sportswear and footwear for winter, outdoor and water sports are sold in more than 40 countries. To learn more about Helly Hansen's latest collections, visit www.hellyhansen.com.