Late show as Renault push Kadjar into crossover battle
By their own admission, Renault came late to the compact Crossover market.
From what I can gather they intend to make up for lost time by devoting plenty of resources to driving interest in, and sales of, their new Kadjar (it's a mouthful) - rival for, among others, its Nissan Alliance partner the famous Qashqai.
And they do sponsor the Late, Late Show which is a decent shop window for a new product.
Buying in the Crossover division of the market is, as we know, frenetic with as many as 30,000 people expected to get into one of those in the Qashqai-class next year.
No wonder Renault couldn't wait to get the Kadjar here.
It is heavily based on the Nissan but is more sharply designed and the interior has been changed a lot as well - though the excellent engines and mechanical underpinnings remain and offer the reassurance of being already tried and tested.
It is based on the Alliance's new CMF (Common Module Family) architecture but Renault took care of the styling etc.
As I've already driven this abroad and reviewed it here I won't go back over old ground.
Suffice to say they are taking on the rivals - and make no bones about the fact that they are prepared to go head-to-head with the Qashqai - on price and spec.
The car (we had the 1.6-litre diesel with two-wheel-drive) drove quite well on the tarmac.
Its four-wheel-drive equivalent took a realistically constructed off-road course easily in its stride.
I spent time at the wheel, in the front-passenger seat and as a back-seat passenger where I found myself with more room than I expected.
Apart from the Qashqai, other rivals include the Hyundai ix35, Skoda Yeti, Peugeot 3008, Ford Kuga, KIA Sportage etc.
Prices start at €24,990 for the 1.2-litre petrol (130bhp) and from €26,790 for the 1.5-litre diesel (110bhp) and €28,290 for what they expect will be the biggest seller, the 1.5dCi Dynamique Nav. The 130bhp 1.6-litre diesel starts from €29,490 with 4WD versions of this kicking off at €31,490.
And so to the important element of equipment. There are four trim levels: Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. The R-Link 2 system is in all except entry level Expression+.
Standard are six airbags, electronic parking brake, front fogs, cruise control, speed limiter, Hill Start Assist, LED daytime running lamps, 7ins TFT instrument panel, electric windows, air con, Bluetooth, USB socket and a 4x20W DAB radio.
The Dynamique Nav trim level adds dual-zone climate control, 17ins alloys, cornering lights, automatic lights/ wipers, Visio system (lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic headlight beam adjustment), driver's seat lumbar adjustment, 4 x 35W Arkamys 3D digital audio system, R-Link 2 multimedia system (sat nav).
And Dynamique S Nav adds 19ins alloys, parking sensors, synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, driver's seat height adjustment, easy-fold rear bench, electric/heated door mirrors, multi-position boot floor.
Top-of-the-range Signature Nav gets a panoramic sunroof, full LED headlights, skid plates, kick plates, cloth/leather upholstery, height-adjustable passenger seat, BOSE 8-speaker sound system.
There is a five-year warranty (first two years have no mileage limit).
One of the interesting engines is the 1.2-litre petrol.
Aside from the current controversy that is bringing diesel into such sharp focus, Renault and several others believe there is a slow drift back to petrol.
For anyone who covers small mileage, it's a real alternative now - though diesel looks like being the overwhelming favourite for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, the marque has a decent flow of new models planned, with the new Megane next year, and the Grand Megane, Scenic and larger SUV all coming down the line.