Peugeot 308

Why the Renault Captur made me learn to love buttons

BUTTONS. Until this week I didn’t realise how fundamentally important they are to my happy, wholesome life – but an outing in a Renault Captur changed all that.

Not only are buttons fairly important in keeping my shirts intact and preventing any unfortunate colleagues from being treated to an Austin Powers-esque helping of unwanted chest hair, they’ve also given their name to one of my favourite chocolate snacks. Buttons also provided the premise for the brilliantly barmy spacefaring children’s show Button Moon – admit it, you watched it too – and allow you to switch everything from calculators to Sony Playstations on and off.

But the Captur – and to be fair, just about every family hatchback on offer these days – doesn’t have nearly enough of them, because it relies on an infotainment system with a touchscreen to manage all the vaguely important stuff. Which is great when you want a screen with satnav directions built into it, but an utter nightmare when you’re trying to do anything remotely complicated.

I was in the passenger seat when a colleague asked me to switch off the Captur’s audible speed camera alert. Its occasional beep is a useful feature to have, but on a stretch of the M1 with a camera seemingly every three feet Radio 2 was being drowned out by what sounded like a drunk communicating in Morse code. Shutting it up should’ve been a simple task, but the Captur’s infotainment system is so complicated that I ended up buried in sub menus of sub menus, desperately tapping every option to stop the incessant beeping.

I opened the glovebox up to find an empty space where the owner’s manual would normally live; it later turned out this would’ve been useless anyway, because while a handbook deciphering the infotainment system’s various modes does exist it wouldn’t have been supplied with our car anyway.

So I ended up looking online, finding the Renault Captur Owners’ Club – no, really – and learning, after scrolling through many pages on its advice forum, the correct way of navigating the system’s labyrinth of options to turn the speed camera alerts off. Success, but it’d taken nearly 20 minutes and every ounce of my concentration to crack it. Had I’d been driving, I’d either be dead or somewhere near Dundee by now.

The other problem is that I have no problem with swiping through the touch screen on my smartphone because it isn’t attached to something that’s jolting its way down a badly surfaced motorway at 70mph. There are lots of different systems plumbed into all sorts of cars nowadays – I drove a Peugeot 308 last weekend for instance, which was fine – but the Captur’s controls made things surprisingly tricky. Not great on a car that has quite a choppy ride to begin with.

The Captur has many things to commend it, but most of all I applaud its ability to make me appreciate buttons. Buttons are underrated, and don’t take 20 minutes to work out. And anyway, can you imagine your kids watching Touchscreen Moon?