Another day, another crossover. Today Renault has the floor with their new entry into the larger C segment crossover market with the new Kadjar.
It’s the next chapter in what has been a very successful story for Renault. Since their new product assault began in 2012 with the Mk 4 Clio, Renault is set to double their yearly sales figures inside their conglomerate of product lines (including Dacia and Renault Commercial vehicles).
50,000 units shifted (give or take) in 2012 plays a predicted 100,000 by the years end. What they went on to emphasise, is that C Crossover segment is responsible for one in ten of cars sold in the UK, and has until now not been occupied by Group Renault.
So the Kadjar then. Imagine a perfect rival to Nissan Qashqai (which, incidentally, shares 60% of it’s internals with the Kadjar), then make it a touch more stylish and rugged looking. Or, imagine the successful Captur B SUV and inject it with steroids.
In all seriousness, it’s hard to make a crossover look appealing, but the Kadjar is neither over styled nor bland and tasteless. It fuses a rugged less-than-soft soft roader look with obvious key Renault styling cues. If you’re going to make a pumped up hatch, give it the stature of a proper SUV. B+ for aesthetics.
The subtle yet stylish theme continues on the inside with a clear legible attractively laid out digital instrument cluster, premium feel plastics, TFT touch display with the responsive R Link 2 UI and expensive feeling tactile control surfaces. The cabin is a pleasure to be in and operate.
The bulkier more unashamedly SUV stature lends well to all round visibility with the tall windows letting in lots of light. Refreshing given that many crossovers will sacrifice that for quirky and often pointless exterior design flourishes and cheesy low roof lines. The thing is most certainly not wanting for space in the back or boot either. It’s utilitarian credentials are the biggest most pleasant surprise so far.
That is until you drive it. As well as being one of the biggest crossovers we’ve tried, it also is one of the nicest to drive.
If you want to embarrass a car dynamically then the ducking diving swooping North Yorkshire lanes are some of the best to do it on, but the Kadjar held its own. Steering tactility, nicely weighted controls all round and a lovely mechanical positive gearshift make the Kadjar a pleasure to operate at hustling pace and feel a lot smaller than it appears on the outside.
It got a bit lofty over some faster crests but we’re not dealing with a sports car here, so it’s frankly not of issue. That the feel of the drive goaded us to push it to that point is worth praise in itself. Around sleepy villages it was surprisingly manageable for its size, too.
Corning wise there was little bias weight wise toward front or rear, being reassuringly neutral at most speeds. Push a little harder and the fwd crossover would push out. Again, excusable for what it is.
The 130bhp turbo diesel engine was efficient, refined but had a relatively slim yet enjoyable window of performance in the rev range. Real movement only happens above 1600 so from a standstill there will definitely be a feel of “coming on boost”. Going above 2500 is somewhat pointless, but the push between the two figures is surprisingly lengthy, so it can get a real shift on if you work the transmission well (which as aforementioned, is a pleasure in itself).
As well as the 1.6 diesels, 1.2 TCe petrols are available, but I feel they don’t suit the character of the car. The diesel makes much less of a meal of day to day work.
Prices kick off from just under £18,000 for the well equipped and optimistically named “expression plus” base model, but we’d skip that, past the £19,500 Dynamique Nav to the £20,500 better equipped and better looking Dynamique S Nav with the manual gearbox, 130bhp 62mpg diesel and 2wd.
Four wheel drive is an option to the detriment of fuel economy, but I think if you have to ask for it, you’re buying into the wrong segment.
Top spec is the Signature Nav which has (to my eyes) different but no more special wheels, and as far as we could work out, a Bose sound system on top of the model below.
At another £1200 more we didn’t feel it was worth it unless you’re an audiophile. The standard stereo is more than adequate.
Conclusive thoughts then. Kadjar is a quality product. A surprisingly capable, well equipped, good looking competitively priced and therefore worthwhile addition to what is already quite a bloated marketplace. Renault say they want to steal sales from Tiguan, Sportage and the like, but I feel there is a bigger picture.
The more unashamed SUV stature of this car would lead me to recommend it to my Land Rover loving mother over something like a Discovery Sport. Unless you need the four wheel drive and the real extra size, Kadjar seems to offer the looks, quality and superior efficiency to impress. Not to mention it’s a landslide cheaper than the Landie. Perhaps it’s an irrelevant comparison, but one I simply could not get out of my head.
It’s a crossover that packs a real SUV visual punch, hatchback running costs and a premium feel inside. For the money, it nails it.
Renault Kadjar – Butch looks, great to drive, alternative to a Disco Sport?