Take your hat off boy when you’re talking to me & be there when I feed the tree.
As the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them ! And that unsurprisingly is what Renault have done with the launch of the Kadjar their answer to the class leading Nissan Qashqai. The Kadjar is built on the same platform & also shares its engine range with the Qashqai as part of the Renault-Nissan alliance. However, Renault have deliberately distanced the Kadjar from the Qashqai in the all important visual areas namely the interior & exterior of the car & it is if anything, better looking than the Nissan.
The Mid-range SUV market shows no sign of slowing up with Volkswagen launching a new Tiguan, Hyundai a new Tucson & KIA a new Sportage shortly, all joining the likes of the Qashqai, Ford Kuga, Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4 & Mazda CX-5 in a very, very competitive market sector. Add in the Skoda Yeti, Citroen Cactus, Suzuki S-Cross & Mitsubishi ASX & customers really are spoiled for choice in this crossover sector.
The Kadjar is available with three engines. The 1.2-litre turbo petrol develops 128bhp, and can do 119mph and 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds – with maximum pulling power from just 2,000rpm. This version will suit many who don’t do high mileage. But, if you’re a company car driver you’ll want to consider one of the two diesels on offer, either the 109bhp 1.5-litre dCi or the 1.6-litre dCi with 128bhp, which is also available with all-wheel drive & the system can send up to 50 per cent of the power to the rear wheels for added traction.
The Kadjar is an attractive car. If you squint when you look at it, it’s hard to tell the Kadjar & Qashqai apart. Look more closely though & you’ll notice that the Renault has a bolder nose enhanced by a large Renault logo on the front. Renaults designers have also added LED running lights complementing the wrap-around headlamps at the front & along each side the Kadjar has more defined body panels than the Nissan. The similarly modern rear lighting signature creates an interesting rippled light effect. The Renault Kadjar’s lines are also emphasised by the fitment of body colour door mirror housings & door handles for all versions. Renault have also used chrome for the windows & daytime running light surrounds, as well as for the sill guards, which further differentiates it from the Qashqai.
The cabin feels pared down but is none the less a very comfortable place to be. The quality is good perhaps the best I’ve encountered in a Renault, with a clear concise instrument panel finished in high quality plastics. The seats are comfy & overall you get a good view of the road ahead. My test model was the 1.6 Signature Nav dCi 130 & it’s a great engine in the Renault with plenty of torque & a smooth gear change. The trim lines are familiar to owners of other Renault vehicles – Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. All provide a comprehensive standard specification, rising to the truly luxurious at the top-of-the-range. Renault’s active & passive safety has been applied across the range, while connectivity via the easy-to-use R-Link 2 system is fitted to all models above Expression+.
Unsurprisingly, the top of the range Signature Nav has high equipment levels.Safety & security includes ABS with EBD, ESC, anti-skid regulation & understeer logic control. Hill start assist, driver, passenger, lateral & curtain air bags. Cruise control with speed limiter, ECO mode, an electronic parking brake, a tyre pressure monitoring kit, plus front & rear parking sensors, lane departure warning & traffic sign recognition. Comfort & convenience is provided by automatic dual zone climate control, auto headlights, cornering lights, a handsfree card, electric heated & folding door mirrors, one touch easy folding rear seats, full LED headlights, a panoramic sun roof, R-Link 2 multimedia system, with a 7” touchscreen, SatNav, EU Mapping with TomTom LIVE & a BOSE energy efficient sound system featuring 7 speakers, a boot mounted sub-woofer, a digital amplifier, DAB & MP3. It’s also got 19” Zeus diamond cut alloys, which look great but give the car a rather harsh ride.
While the Kadjar is based on the same platform as the Qashqai, Renault’s designers have lengthened the rear overhang to give their car more boot space. As a result, capacity is up by 42 litres to a rather impressive 472 litres. Fold all the seats down and total load volume increases to 1,478 litres easily accessed with the one touch easy folding system. There are plenty of the usual storage spaces through the rest of the car, with a combined capacity of 30 litres. Front passengers get plenty of head & leg room, whilst in the rear there’s good leg room but the sunroof does eat slightly into the head room.
The new Renault Kadjar is impressively economical, especially the 1.5 dCi diesel, which claims 74.3mpg with excellent CO2 emissions of 99g/km. My 1.6-litre diesel claimed 62.8 mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions of 117g/km of CO2. Acceleration os okay, with 62mph reached in under 10 seconds with the top speed being 118mph.
Having driven all of the cars in the Kadjars crossover sector, I can safely say that the Renault is a worthwhile addition to the group. There are a few Gallic touches I’m not that keen on, such as the steering wheel stalk audio controls which are fiddly & found on all Renaults & the bonkers location of the cruise control switch next to the hand brake. Also, the top-spec model is expensive £24,795 & I would be more inclined to look at the Dynamique Nav model & the name takes a little getting used to. These are small complaints & in reality, it’s excellent & a really good addition to the improving Renault range.
A Feed the Tree 4/5.