You get the sense that things are good again at Renault after a tumultuous few years in which the range was slashed with uneconomic models consigned to the scrap heap.

Renault tried to conquer all markets and had cars for every conceivable need but it was decided this wasn’t making financial sense, so the company decided to concentrate on major models.

Now the brand, which always had a sense of flair and fun, has found its feet again as the Captur illustrates. This is Renault’s mini-SUV, a car closely related to the highly successful Nissan Juke (Nissan is the other half of Renault’s Alliance) and it is making rather a good name for itself. It competes with the likes of Vauxhall Mokka, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Yeti, and although it is built in Spain it has very much a French flavour. It has enjoyed a successful first year and has earned plaudits for its style, driving ability and the fact that it is much bigger inside than it looks from the outside.

The driving ability is no fluke. It is based on the Renault Clio’s running gear which helps explain why it’s so good on the road.

And costing from a little over £12,000, you can see why people who might otherwise buy hatchbacks are tempted by the mini-SUV market which offers more space, style and arguably a better chance of coping with ice and snow.

Captur looks chunkier than Clio but it has a similar cheeky, unmistakable style and also manages to look distinctly different to the Juke. In fact, it’s almost MINI-like in its ability to be bold and to be ordered in a range of off-the-wall colours and contrasts.

This is more of a crossover than a proper mini-SUV and it has lots of estate or hatchback qualities. On the outside it’s a modestly-sized motor. It’s 4.1 metres in length which puts it in supermini territory, but it also has 200mm of ground clearance which makes it quite a tall car. That, after all, is what many buyers of this sort of vehicle want: the benefits of a commanding driving position.

Add the wide opening tailgate complete with a waist-level load lip and reversible boot liner and you’ve got a package Renault hopes will tempt families out of existing, hatchbacks, estates and possibly larger and expensive to run SUVs and people carriers.

When it comes to running costs, Renault’s plan on focusing on frugal, small capacity petrol and diesel engines should find favour with cost-conscious motorists.

Low fuel consumption and CO2 figures across the board are promoted, and there’s no doubt that for urban motoring the Captur’s 1.5-litre 90bhp diesel motor is more than capable and registers just 95g/km CO2.

You might need to shift down a gear on motorway inclines and if carrying a full load, but it’s never loud or coarse.

Its sibling engines are much the same. The petrol alternatives, in that the real world experience is surprisingly positive one despite the lack of cubic centimetres on offer. Turbo technology again features alongside an all new 1.2-litre 120bhp motor, and like the diesel option there’s the prospect of above average mpg. Combine this with the option of a slick dual clutch semi-auto gearbox on selected models and the Captur becomes a refreshingly easy to use and drive car. For all the Captur’s handling ability, space and compact size, for many the real focus will be on the car’s practicality.

Being tall, Captur has good headroom. There’s also plenty of legroom.

Up front there’s a familiar fascia design first seen on the latest Clio featuring, depending on the model, an excellent touchscreen incorporating audio and navigation functions. Although the cabin plastics are hard, this will likely prove attractive to families seeking durability.

Like the Clio, Renault is pushing hard the concept of personalisation and offers a wide choice of themed interior colour combinations and designs in a bid to connect with young buyers. The end result can be just as striking as the car’s exterior.

Generous standard equipment across the four model range – including a good spread of safety kit – completes what is an attractive package – visually and from a practical perspective.

Plus the Captur can be had with a high-end audio and navigation system, Bluetooth phone and MP3 player connectivity plus removable and washable seat covers and a full keyless go option.

I admire the removable zipped seat coverings (what a great idea for a lifestyle car?) and the dash lights which signal when you’re driving in a green manner. Simple but very effective.

With all this in its favour, you can see why Captur seems to be succeeding.

Renault Captur Dynamique MediaNav PRICE: £16,395. Range starts at £12,495 ENGINE: A 1,461cc 90bhp four cylinder unit generating 90bhp via front wheel drive PERFORMANCE: Top speed 106mph, 0 to 60mph in 13.1 seconds COSTS: town 67.2mpg; country 83.1mpg; combined 76.4mpg INSURANCE: Group 12E EMISSIONS: 103g/km WARRANTY: Four years, 100,000 miles