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Renault Kadjar shakes up crossover craze in style

08:16 12 October 2015

Classy Kadjar takes Renault in the mid-size crossover market where is has the looks, kit, space and driving appeal to succeed.

Classy Kadjar takes Renault in the mid-size crossover market where is has the looks, kit, space and driving appeal to succeed.

Renault

Renault aims to build on its crossover success with the mid-size Kadjar, joining the smaller Captur. While it shares much with alliance partner Nissan’s market-leading Qashqai, this new Renault oozes character and style, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Building for the future

So far this year just over one in every 10 new cars sold in the UK has been a mid-size crossover – a sector dominated by the Nissan Qashqai and one no mainstream manufacturer can ignore.

Renault has now entered it with the Kadjar, big brother to its hugely-successful Captur crossover which has taken everyone by surprise – even Renault to become Europe’s best-selling supermini-sized crossover.

The biggest surprise is how long it has taken Renault to bid for a slice of the bigger C-sector action given its alliance with Nissan and the fact the Kadjar has much in common with the Qashqai.

Renault Kadjar

Price: Renault Kadjar Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 £22,395 (range £17,995 to £26,295)

Engine: 1,461cc, 110hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 11.9 seconds; top speed 113mph

MPG: Urban 67.3; extra urban 74.3; combined 72.4

CO2 emissions: 103g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 18%

Insurance group:14E (out of 50)

Warranty: Four years or 100,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,449mm ; W (including door mirrors) 2,058mm; H 1,613mm

Stylish newcomer

Given the Spanish-built Kadjar has a lot in common with the British-built Qashqai, you have to applaud Renault for creating its own character for this new crossover. While they share 60% of parts, 95% of those visible are unique to Kadjar.

Looks-wise, it’s more in tune with Captur than Qashqai with that family face dominated by the big, bold Renault diamond while the back end if set off by sculpted 3D tail lights with a distinctive C-signature.

It might just be because it is new, or that we have become over familiar with the hugely-popular, big volume Qashqai, but the Kadjar looks more stylish and will have not trouble standing out from the ever-growing crowd.

Under the bonnet

Sensible, high-efficiency engines, shared with Qashqai, are a 130PS 1.2-litre turbo petrol and 110PS 1.5-litre and 130PS 1.6-litre turbo diesels with slick six-speed manual gearboxes. The smaller diesel is also offered with a six-speed automatic gearbox while the more powerful engine is also available with intelligent four-wheel drive with front-wheel drive, auto and locked four-drive modes.

The big-seller is going to be the perky 1.5-litre unit is more than up to the job but needs stirring into life with the gearbox more to maintain momentum going uphill. The upside is up to 74.3mpg combined and CO2 as low as 99g/km even with the automatic gearbox.

The 1.6-litre diesel feels more lively, noticeably more willing from low revs, and, because it doesn’t have to be worked so hard to make decent progress, more relaxing to drive, smoother and barely audible cruising at 70mpg. But at £1,200 more than the 1.5-litre unit you need to tow or need four-wheel drive to justify the extra cost.

How it drives

Despite their looks, a good crossover drives more like a family car than a sport utility vehicle and that is very much the impression with the Kadjar.

Sharing the running gear with the Qashqai is a good starting point but the Kadjar’s ride feels less firm and that is down to Renault’s efforts when it comes to seat design with supportive side bolstering and well-padded cushions and backs which add extra absorbency to the ride quality on poor road surfaces.

Well-weighted steering and a chunky wheel, which has a nice feel to it, combine with a sprightly set-up to the suspension to make the Kadjar reassuring and rewarding, flowing through a series of bends on twisty roads with little sensation of body roll, even at speed, helping to emphasise how well planted it feels on the road.

Space and comfort

Six-footers won’t complain about legroom in the back and the tall body means headroom isn’t an issue. The boot, with a twin-level floor on top models, provides up to 472 litres of load space, even with the full-size spare wheel, so carrying their luggage is not an issue either.

Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat, via levers on the seat backs in a single action or sides of the boot, to create a 1,478 litre load bay packed to the roof.

It’s all very clever and practical so it is a shame the roller tonneau cover feels flimsy and fiddly to clip into place.

In the cabin

Renault is really nailing its cabin design with its latest models with it comes to quality and overall ambience and the Kadjar has the look and feel of a car costing considerably more with double stitching on trim panels and tasteful, tactile materials.

The fascia is easy on the eye and the hand with sensible switchgear, the R-Link 2 connectivity and control system which swipes like a smartphone and the large thin-film transistor (TFT) virtual rev counter with inset digital speedometer.

All kitted out

Available in Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav, the Kadjar is well kitted out - apart from the rather functional entry model. The most popular tim is likely to be Dynamique S which, at only £800 more than Dynamique, adds 19in diamond-cut alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, synthetic leather and cloth seats, driver’s seat height adjustment, the one-touch easy-folding rear bench seat, electric and heated door mirrors and multi-position boot floor.

Final say

Despite the inevitable comparisons, Renault is not looking to emulate the soaraway success of the Qashqai but, as with the smaller Captur, I can see it being pleasantly surprised by the uptake of the Kadjar which is not only well priced and well equipped but, with class-leading average residuals of 42% after three years and 60,000 miles, should mean highly-competitive PCP finance deals.

Renault Group sales have nearly doubled in the UK between 2012 and last year to 108,000 units and the Kadjar is certain to give it another big boost given the popularity of mid-size crossovers.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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