Gareth Butterfield tests the Renault Kadjar
HOT on the heels of just about every other mainstream manufacturer, Renault is having an assertive new stab at the crossover market. And, as with nearly all other manufacturers, it’s come up with a quirky and original name for it, too.
This is the Kadjar. Pretty, isn’t it? Although it’s not overtly similar, this newcomer shares much of its underpinnings with the automotive monarch of silly names, the Nissan Quashqai.
If anything, especially in the top-spec version I’ve been sent to test, it feels very upmarket – almost pushing into the comfort zone of more premium models.
Quality materials, 7-inch TFT instrument panel with digital speedometer, all-round electric windows, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a USB socket and a DAB radio are all bundled in alongside automatic cornering lights, automatic wipers, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and a hands-free keycard.
The list goes on. If you can afford to go for the Signature Nav version, you’ll get 19-inch diamond-cut alloys, full LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, front and rear skid plates, side and boot kick plates, leather upholstery with a Nappa leather steering wheel, a height-adjustable passenger seat and the BOSE Energy Efficient eight-speaker sound system, including a boot-mounted sub-woofer and amplifier.
That might seem a lot to take in but the point I’m trying to get across is how “premium” the Kadjar feels. Renault has clearly tried to move its newcomer up a league or two and it’s paid off. The spec, pound for pound, is brilliant.
To be honest, lower down the range, the Quashquai and the Kadjar seem closer in competition – and I’d even go as far as saying some of its rivals might present a better package, but here is a car at its best with plenty of boxes ticked. Make sure you can afford a good one, and you won’t be disappointed.
An automatic gearbox is available with the 110bhp engine and four-wheel drive is offered with the 130 in the three upper trim levels.
On the road, a Quashqai driver should feel right at home, but that’s not to say the Kadjar is devoid of its own character.
Cabin space in the front is good, but practicality from the rear seats and boot is excellent. A flat floor with plenty of luggage space and storage gadgets makes this a really sensibly-designed family car.
You’d probably never spot it, but the Kadjar is slightly longer than the Quashquai and that makes it more practical. It’s also a bit better to drive and genuinely does feel the more upmarket product, despite still being competitively priced.
Instead, they’ve cleverly created a bigger brother for their Captur range and I’d be amazed if it doesn’t sell well.
Pick one with a decent spec and the right engine and you’ll be thrilled with it.
And, the best bit is, all your mates will be able to pronounce its name, right from the word go.