Renault Kadjar: 'A fashionable but still practical alternative to the old reliable'
Sharing many of its parts with the hugely successful Nissan Qashqai – the Renault Kadjar was already off to a winning start among crossover fans.
Built as part of the Renault-Nissan alliance, it might be based on the same chassis as the Qashqai, but the styling is all Renault. Its bold French design alongside a generous spec and competitive price has been turning lots of heads since it arrived here last year.
Performance & Running Costs
The engine line up consists of two diesels in the 1.5 and 1.6l DCIs, and a 1.2l petrol. The 110hp 1.5l DCI will be the obvious choice for most, offering an impressive claimed fuel economy of 74 MPG (3.8l per 100km) and sitting in tax band A at just €180 a year. You will have to upgrade to the 130hp 1.6l DCI if you want four wheel drive.
On the road it's all about comfort and like the Qashqai it offers a reassuring and predictable drive. The steering is responsive, the suspension well-damped and it remains composed around corners and bends. Good sound insulation makes for a quiet and relaxing ride, and a raised driving position with plenty of adjustment ensures you get a great view of the road ahead.
What’s in the cabin
The interior feels modern and the quality of the materials is impressive. The digital instrument cluster is a particularly nice touch. It feels about on par with the Qashqai for room in the cabin but they've managed to eek out a great deal more bootspace – beating it by almost 100l with the false floor lowered.
Value for money
With a starting price of €25,190 it's currently one of the best value crossovers on the market at the moment. That entry-level trim is not sparsely equipped either with standard features including air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Upgrade to the Dynamique Nav trim however and you will be spoilt for choice in terms of extras, with some impressive high-tech features on board including dual zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, a leather-covered steering wheel and Renault's 'R-link' touchscreen multimedia system complete with SatNav.
There are higher trim levels available; the Signature Nav for example that adds some more premium touches like 19 inch wheels, full leather upholstery and a sunroof, but for the majority of buyers that Dynamique Nav Trim will offer more than enough kit, ringing in at a still reasonable €28,500 when paired with the 1.5l diesel engine.
It also gets an additional safety pack with some useful driver-assisting features like lane departure warning, road sign recognition and automatic highbeam adjustment. A full five star NCAP crash test will tick another box for safety-conscious family buyers.
The engines used are well-tested and the pesky electrical gremlins the brand were once linked with seem to have been left in the past with massive improvements in build quality in recent years. Residual values may not be as high as its more established competitors down the line, but its striking design and lower entry price (not to mention the extra cargo space) might just tip the balance in its favour on a potential customer's list of pros and cons.
If it was simply just a better looking version of a Qashqai it would be easier to ignore, but the fact that it excels in so many other areas has ensured that Renault have a surefire hit on their hands here.
Verdict: A fashionable but still practical alternative to the old reliable