Road test: Renault Kadjar
The Kadjar is stylish, good to drive and practical.
What is it?
The Renault Kadjar is a crossover to rival the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. Like most crossovers, think of the Kadjar as a family hatchback with some SUV attitude.
How safe is it?
All cars come with a solid roster of safety kit as standard, and there’s the reassurance of a five-star rating from the crash test experts at Euro NCAP.
Who should buy one?
If you want a practical and stylish five-seat family crossover, the Kadjar will appeal. It runs the class-leading Nissan Qashqai very close, and beats it on price.
Road test by David Motton published 21 August 2015
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The Kadjar shares 60 per cent of its parts with the Nissan Qashqai, so it’s no surprise the Renault is similar to drive to its close relative. And that’s no bad thing.
Our test drive took in some of Northumberland’s most beautiful scenery, criss-crossed by spectacular roads. The Kadjar handled every dip, crest and corner with polish and composure.
Light but precise steering helps the driver place the car accurately, and by crossover standards lean in corners is held in check. For a car that’s more likely to find itself on the school run or daily commute than spearing across a remote moorland, the Kadjar is surprisingly enjoyable to drive.
It’s happy enough on more mundane roads, too. Around town the Kadjar’s ride feels a tad firm, certainly on the 19-inch alloys fitted to our high-spec test cars. But light controls make stop-start traffic easy to deal with, and the highly assisted steering is a plus when parking.
At motorway speeds the Kadjar feels comfortable, although a little less road noise would be welcome. Again, we suspect that less expensive models on smaller alloy wheels would be quieter.
Slip the gearbox into top gear and settle down to cruise at the legal limit and there’s little noise from either of the two diesel models we drove. The 1.5-litre engine has 110PS (108bhp). That may not sound like much but the engine’s lively enough to satisfy most drivers. Besides, the official combined economy figure of 74.3mpg (72.4mpg with 19-inch alloys) makes the 1.5 a smart buy.
If you must have a bit more pep, the 1.6-litre has 130PS (128bhp). There’s a noticeable step up in performance, and this is the only engine available with four-wheel drive. However the engine isn’t as quiet as the 1.5 if you rev it hard.
The third engine option – which we didn’t have the chance to drive – is the 130PS (128bhp) TCe petrol. It’s the cheapest to buy, but doesn’t have the headline-grabbing economy of the 1.5 diesel.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Like the Nissan Qashqai, the Kadjar is well finished with an attractive dashboard design. Don’t think it’s just a Qashqai clone, though – despite their mechanical similarities, Renault says 95 per cent of the parts you see or touch are unique to the Kadjar.
There’s plenty of room up front, with enough adjustment for the seat and wheel for people of most shapes and sizes to fine-tune their driving position.
Adults should be comfortable enough in the back, even when sat behind a tall driver. That said, the panoramic sunroof fitted to top-spec cars compromises headroom slightly. What’s more, although there are vents under the front seats, there are none in the door pillars or between the front seats to blow chilled air at rear-seat passengers’ faces.
Boot space is 472 litres, giving the Renault a clear advantage over the Nissan’s 430 litres. That’s more than enough room for a typical weekly shop. Fold the back seats flat and that increases to 1,478 litres.
We’d prefer thinner pillars to give the driver a clearer view at junctions, but otherwise there’s little to complain about. Even more basic cars have driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, along with stability control and a system to resist pushing wide in corners. Euro NCAP has already awarded the Kadjar five stars, with strong scores for adult, child and pedestrian safety as well as the car’s driver assistance features.
Entry-level Expression+ cars have air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB digital radio, and electric windows front and rear. Upgrade to Dynamique Nav for, you’ve guessed it, satellite navigation, a more powerful stereo, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys and more. Dynamique S Nav cars have front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch alloys, a height-adjustable passenger seat, and synthetic leather and cloth upholstery. Signature Nav models have a Bose stereo, a panoramic sunroof and leather upholstery.
The Kadjar is competitively priced, starting from £17,995. Our pick of the range, the 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique Nav, costs £21,595, while the range-topping 1.6 dCi 130 Signature Nav 4WD is priced at £26,295. Running costs should be affordable, especially if you choose the fuel-sipping 1.5-litre diesel; carbon dioxide emissions are so low there’s no Vehicle Excise Duty to pay. A few years down the road, resale values are predicted to be strong.
The Kadjar is stylish, good to drive and practical.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds
Economy: 74.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 14E
Tax: Band A (£0 first year)
Figures for the 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique Nav