Renault Kadjar – Review
by Liam Bird
“Good morning Mr Bird. This is the Renault press office. Just a courtesy call to let you know that your all-new Kadjar will be with you at 10am tomorrow morning. Thank you.”
The thing I noticed most about that voicemail message was the phrase “all-new Kadjar”. Everyone at Renault seems to be trained to mention that. Even the delivery driver said it when he arrived the next day at 10 on-the-dot.
Whether or not the Renault Kadjar is actually as “all-new” as they like to tell you is actually a matter of opinion. You may not have seen that many of them yet; Kadjars have only been available since September last year. But even on first sighting, proportionally, there is something – even if you can’t quite put your finger on it immediately – that seems very familiar.
That’s because even though the Kadjar looks every inch a Renault – from its deep V-shaped front grille complete with instantly recognisable (and huge!) diamond-shaped badge, to its deeply sculpted side-panels, and over to its Clio-that’s-spent-too-long-in-the-gym rear-hatch, aesthetically it couldn’t be anything else – underneath all of those new super stylish-body panels it is mechanically a Nissan Qashqai. If you consider just how much of a success the Qashqai has been, surely that’s no bad thing; the Japanese can’t make their version of this unashamedly family-friendly SUV fast enough.
“Comfy and sophisticated”
Once inside the Renault Kadjar there’s an air of quality that’s long been absent in a Renault. The first thing that strikes you is just how well put together everything feels. The plastics are soft to the touch; the driving position is spot-on (although you do have to pay extra for a height adjustable driver’s seat); the seats are superbly supportive and the visibility in all directions is also worthy of note. The R-link touchscreen may not be the easiest thing to fathom and some of the minor switchgear seems to have been laid-out with a scatter gun, but criticisms aside the the Kadjar’s cabin feels both comfy and sophisticated.
Four grown-ups will easily find space to spread out and store their trinkets, maybe even five at a push (albeit for shorter journeys perhaps), and all the bits you touch: steering wheel, gear-knob, column stalks, pedals and door handles, all feel nicely weighted and tactile. The rear seats fold perfectly flat at the touch of a button and there’s even somewhere to store the load cover/parcel shelf. Nice touch that.
It’s a similar story when it comes to the way the Kadjar drives. “My” Renault Kadjar came in Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 spec which roughly translates as “pick-of the-bunch”. Although not 4-wheel drive, there’s still more than enough grip for the majority of daily duties. Fitting winter tyres perhaps would reduce the disparity ever further. The six-speed gearbox does have to be stirred occasionally to make the most of the 1.5-litre diesel’s modest torque and power outputs, especially so when overtaking, but overall the Kadjar feels both safe and secure.
Six airbags, stability control and tyre pressure monitoring and from Dynamique Nav trim onwards, a package that includes climate control, automatic wipers, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic dipping headlamps, plus a full five-star NCAP rating across the range, should also help further cement that feeling of security. A promised 74.9 mpg (I got mid to high 50s out here in the real world) and just 99g/km CO2, (provided you don’t spec the blingy 19” alloys) means running the Kadjar shouldn’t break the bank either.
All-new it may not quite be, but ultimately the Kadjar’s trump-card is that it takes proven Japanese mechanicals and then mixes them with a far more distinctive Gallic style. It’s actually slightly bigger than the Qashqai upon which it’s based too, so it’s more practical. And, in most cases it’s cheaper too. Job well done Renault, job very well done in fact. I’d say you’re definitely on to a winner.
Renault Kadjar Dynamique S Nav dCi 110
Engine: 1,461cc 4Cyl 8V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed manual, front wheel drive.
Power: 108 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 192 lbft @ 1,750 rpm
0-62MPH: 11.9 Sec
Max Speed: 113 mph
CO2: 99 g/km
MPG: 74.9 combined