Keeping it real (estate)

Escaping the city for a bright new start

DAVID HASSALL

BUYING a new house can be one of the most exciting things you can do in life Ė or the most stressful, frustrating, annoying and downright distressing. As you can probably read between the lines, I have mixed feelings about the whole caper. And donít even get me started about agents and how theyíre largely responsible for Australiaís absurd affordability crisis.

Despite all that, I actually quite like the searching process. I love trawling the web, finding likely properties, drawing up a schedule of inspections and dragging the family around from one to the next with military precision. Itís quite exhausting, yet also thrilling and nerve-wracking all at once.

Itís also a good test of a car. Thereís lots of stop-starting, piling in and out, parking in tricky places, negotiating unfamiliar territory, eating on the run, working the sat-nav overtime and rushing to make up lost time because some people simply canít assess a million-dollar purchase in the allotted 10 minutes. Anyone would think itís potentially life-changing! Come on, people, we should be two suburbs away.

I thought the Captur would be the perfect vehicle for such duties, being a commodious ĎSUVí yet compact enough to be nippy. I was being optimistic.

The Ďkidsí lumped into the back seat are 20-somethings who know nothing of imperial measures yet are keenly aware of their ďsix foot-plusĒ stature, which challenges the Capturís metric capacity. Theyíre too polite to complain, but when asked are happy to proffer that being wedged into the back doesnít combine well with a jiggly ride and winding roads. Mum didnít feel too settled in the front, either.

As it happens, weíre looking in The Dandenongs, the hills on the outskirts of Melbourneís east, and there are plenty of twists and turns, dips and rises, sharp hairpins, bumpy dirt roads and sometimes daunting driveways. The traction control occasionally worked overtime as the tyres scrabbled for traction, yet somehow the blue Renault always made it back to the blacktop without anyone having to get out and push. But the poor little three-pot turbo did struggle with such a full load and some fierce climbs.

Most annoying was the reversing camera.

Itís not a sparkling display, so it wasnít always easy to make out what was on the screen when presented with unmade roads, dirt verges, ditches, and sometimes even scary steep drops. Worse still, though, the damn screen takes about 12 seconds to come on after youíve started the car and selected reverse. Why? Iíve no idea. But itís a long time to sit in gear waiting for a screen to come on before you can start reversing.

At least the sat-nav worked a treat and could be programmed on the run. It certainly made communicating with the car easier than with the agents.

TESTING PATIENCE

I donít want to endure 12 seconds of this Renault logo on the screen when I really need to see where Iím heading

iPod, therefore I am confused

IPOD connection is a source of constant irritation, especially when Iíve been getting in and out of the car so often. My iPod is only a few years old, so compatibility shouldnít be a problem, yet the Capturís only a 50/50 proposition. Half the time my music automatically bursts forth, but just as often it defaults to the radio and insists the device canít be found. So I have to unplug and put it straight back in to magically restore my preferred sounds. And the plug is above the screen, so the cord dangles over it. Irritating.

RENAULT CAPTUR TCe90

Date acquired: March 2015 Price as tested: $25,540 This month: 1795km @ 7.0L/100km Overall: 5310km @ 6.9L/100km Dat Pri Thi Ove