• Glencoe, Scotland. Somewhere back there was used for Hagrid's hut in the Harry Potter films. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • You don't need to try hard to find spectacular scenery. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • This weather is what the Scots call "atmospheric."
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • We're on a boat. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • I'm pretty sure the center stack would be pointing toward the passenger in France, too. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Push-button volume control. USB port and aux jack above the touchscreen. Mon dieu
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Steering wheel is the right size, feels great in your hands and is leather-wrapped even on this lower trim rental car. No audio buttons, though.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Ah, there they are! Audio control hidden behind the wheel spoke in a weird pod. Took me a day to find them. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Behold, how not to design a center console. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • With only 90 horsepower, tach lives in the 4-6 range quite a bit. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The key is a card-like thing that fits your pocket quite nicely. Plaid shirt a Scotland requirement. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Why yes, that is a manual transmission in a subcompact SUV. And yes, you do shift it with your left hand. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • So yeah, the clutch is too close to the center console. I had heard this was a problem with French cars. Hey, at least they now swap the windshield wipers direction for the British market now. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The seats are quite comfy and the upholstery has held up well after 12,000 miles in the hands of Hertz renters. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Why yes, those are zippers. I guess you can remove the seat covers to clean them? Neat. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Things you don't see in the United States any more: airbag deactivation switches. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Seat back pockets? Ha! We'll give you bungie chords. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The back seat is mounted quite high so space is great for such a small SUV.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The seat also slides to create extra cargo space. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The cargo area with the back seat slid back and the floor in place.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The cargo area with the seat pushed forward.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The cargo area with the seat slid back and the floor removed.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • The cargo area with the seat slid forward and the floor removed.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Meeting the local populace.
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • This guy really couldn't have cared less that we stopped by for a visit. Jerk.. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Like the Grand Canyon, photos just don't do Glencoe justice. I took some anyway. 
  • Image Credit: James Riswick
  • Trim
    Iconic TCe 90
  • Engine
    0.9L Turbo Inline-3
  • Power
    90 HP / 103 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    5-Speed Manual
  • 0-60 Time
    13.4 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    106 MPH
  • Drivetrain
  • Engine Placement
  • Seating
  • MPG
    46.4 MPG (observed)
  • Base Price
    £15,300 ($19,938)
  • As Tested Price
    £17,050 (estimated, $22,217)
BALLACHULISH, Scotland — The road ahead is impossibly narrow, barely wider than our 2018 Renault Captur, yet it's actually a two-way road. Passing areas every 100 yards or so provide a haven when cars appear ahead. Preferably, that's with plenty of warning, but more often than not, it's all-of-a-sudden from around a blind dip or curve. Never has the posted speed limit seemed like such a prudent idea.

The thing is, the A861 on the Ardnamurchen peninsula in the western Scottish Highlands isn't some defunct logging road we've stumbled upon because of a faulty navigation system or overly ambitious wanderlust. Though the area is certainly populated by more sheep than people, it's far from the most remote place you'll find in Scotland. This is a road that's actually necessary for reaching a variety of villages and seemingly well-travelled, most notably by Ford Transits and other delivery vans that are without question the speed demons in these parts. The Royal Mail clearly prides itself on swift delivery.

Subcompact SUVs are marketed and genuinely best-suited to those who live in more densely populated urbanish areas, but out here, this one makes a ton of sense. Based on Renault's subcompact Clio hatchback, the Captur is 2 inches shorter in length than a Hyundai Kona but roughly equal in all other dimensions. It would be one of the smallest subcompact SUVs if it was sold in North America.

Those dimensions are ideal on such absurdly tight roads, while its elevated seating height — seemingly higher than most subcompact SUVs — is a big help on those aforementioned blind dips. Body roll is kept nicely in check around corners, and the steering — though numb — is precise, pleasantly weighted and clearly calibrated for drivers who prefer their cars to be more responsive. I legitimately enjoyed driving the Captur, which cannot be said for the majority of subcompact crossovers over here.

While subcompact crossovers aren't known for an abundance of power in America, they're all Top Fuel dragsters compared to the Captur, which comes with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that can't even eek out a full liter of displacement. This 0.9-liter gasoline-powered wee-engine-that-could produces 90 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque, and returned a phenomenal as-tested 46.4 mpg (U.S.). On the other hand, Renault estimates it'll go from 0 to 60 mph in 13.4 seconds, which is about 3 seconds slower than the segment's slowest here in North America.

The thing is, though, it didn't feel that slow. It was genuinely surprising to read those figures after driving the Captur around Scotland for the better part of a day. Sure, merging onto the motorways outside Edinburgh required patience and a heavy foot, but around towns and when accelerating away from those A861 passing areas, it had the sort of low-end grunt that makes little turbo engines always seem quicker than they really are. Now, Renault does offer a diesel three-cylinder, also with 90 hp, but with a more robust 162 lb-ft of torque. One of those wasn't available at the Edinburgh Airport Hertz.

What was happily available, though, was something different than what I'd find in the United States, which is exactly what I was seeking to traverse the western Highlands' verdant glacial valleys and fjord-like lochs.

Introduced back in 2013 and mildly updated in 2017, the Captur is a sharp-looking little SUV that shows off much better when painted in one of its bright two-toned color schemes. Our all-silver version was comparatively dull, but despite its age and the fact it was one of the segment's earliest members, I'd venture that it's still better looking than the HR-V's, C-HR's and Traxes of this world.

The interior is a different story. I'd say it's aged poorly, but I remember 2013, and it wasn't like this. The Captur's ergonomically hapless cabin seems to have been designed by a car company whose designers hadn't actually sat in another brand's cars in decades. Take the cupholders. Crammed beside the emergency brake nearly on the floor, one is barely wide enough for a coffee cup and the other could maybe fit a Red Bull can if it wasn't so uselessly shallow. Oh but don't worry, there's another coffee cup one conveniently behind your hip that also serves the back seat.

Then there's the sole USB port, located above the touchscreen, and about 2 feet above the smartphone bin that's too small to hold a plugged-in iPhone 6. That touchscreen has no physical menu buttons and the volume is controlled by either a toggle button above the screen ("See! We're not so bad!" cries Honda) or a pod behind the right steering wheel spoke that took me a day and a half to discover. The cruise control is activated by a button next to those cupholders, because why not? Je m'excuse, mais non?

Note, this isn't French wackiness like the Citroen DS having floor-mounted buttons instead of pedals, or the entire Citroen Cactus. This is Renault clearly not knowing or caring about sensible industry norms. Frankly, that's surprising given the company's corporate ties to Nissan.

Space and comfort are much better. At 6-foot-3, I rarely fit comfortably in the segment's crossovers, but despite its manually adjustable seats, I managed to be quite comfortable for hundreds of miles. The seats are mounted quite high, too, which is not only good for visibility but it provides ample leg room/support front and back.

Distinctively for the segment, the Captur's 60/40-split back seat also slides forward to free up cargo room by either pulling bars under the seat or a unique single bar behind it in the trunk. Using this feature allowed us to fit two large, must-check suitcases without utilizing the under-floor storage area and therefore finding some place to store the rigid floor panel. It's the only thing in the Captur's cabin that competitors would be wise to copy.

Well, besides the manual transmission, which has to be the major reason a 90-horsepower three-banger felt sufficiently powerful. Sure, the throws are long. Yes, the shifter is placed too far forward. Of course, the right-hand-drive pedals are located too close to the center tunnel, and you bet, I could've bought some smaller, dainty shoes somewhere. But, if you have the chance to drive a car with a manual transmission in Britain, any car really, I highly recommend it.

Driving has become so easy, and if you love driving, adding the mental and physical exercise is perpetually rewarding. Shift with your left hand. Wring the necks of 90 French horses. Drive on the left side of the road. Brake hard for nine Scottish sheep in that road. Instinctively slam your right arm into the door in a futile attempt to downshift. It's a blast.

I can think of few better ways to spend a vacation.

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Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own — we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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