What is it?
Kadjar. Not sure what it means and it doesn’t really matter.
It’s what Kadjar represents that is more important, and that is a rosy future of the French brand.
Not sure which came first, Kadar or the Nissan Qashqai with which it shares a platform, but the alliance has certainly paid off for Renault with a car that is as attractive as it is practical — in a word the complete package.
What’s it cost?
Built in Spain, Kadjar comes in three trim levels – Life, Zen and Intens, priced from $28,990 for Life, $31,990 for Zen and $36,990 for Intens — all prices driveaway.
Our test vehicle, the Intens, has just one available, metallic paint priced at $750.
All are powered by the same 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine and all come with a 7-speed twin clutch style auto.
Intens features leather and twin zone climate, heated front seats, driver and front passenger seat cushion extension and power adjustment for the driver’s seat (but manual lumbar adjustment).
There’s also daytime LEDs, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear-view mirror, electric parking brake, keyless entry and automatic ‘walk away’ door locking, Cruise control with speed limiter, Easy Park Assist hands-free parking system, fixed panoramic sunroof.
A 7-speaker Bose system provides the audio, with satnav, DAB digital radio, 2x front & 2x rear USB ports, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Safety includes six airbags, Auto Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, LED headlights with auto high beam, and a reversing camera with front, rear as well as side parking sensors.
What’s it go like?
While Qashqai gets a standard 2.0-litre engine, Kadjar ups the ante with a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit, together with a 7-speed dual-clutch style transmission.
Both are shared with Benz and can be found in the current A-Class.
In Kadjar it develops a healthy 117kW of power and and 260Nm, the latter from a lowish 1750 revs.
It’s typical of a dual-clutch setup with a momentary pause before it gets going and will roll backwards on a slope if you’re not watchful.
Three point turns can be a challenge too.
Auto engine stop-start is fitted to save fuel but can be switched off, and there’s an Eco mode too.
You can change gears manually using the transmission lever, but unfortunately there’s no paddles for the purpose — despite the fact it’s top of the line.
We’re not big fans of the twin clutch, but in this application it seems to do a reasonable job, without becoming annoying.
Getting in and out is easy, it’s quiet and comfortable, with push-button start, electric handbrake, simple, easy to read instruments and steering that is light and easy to use.
Rear legroom is adequate, with rear air outlets for back seat passengers and ISOFIX child seat fixing points on the outermost seats.
And the luggage area is a good size, with 408 litres.
Kadjar clips along nicely, with 0-100km/h taking 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h.
There’s plenty of torque on tap for overtaking, but being a middle of the road model the handling falls short of being sporty, with plenty of body movement if you push hard.
And the 19-inch wheels, with low profile 45 series rubber, can jar a bit on lousy back roads.
At first, we thought Intens did not have lane departure warning, until we found the setting hiding in the menu system.
The same goes for speed limit display and warnings for school zones and speed cameras.
Like the Megane we drove recently, it has the hilarious fart noises for lane departure.
Not sure why Renault persists with the odd stalk control for audio.
Unless you’ve used one before, you need to do a reccy before you get going, because the stalk is obscured by the steering wheel and you can’t see what controls do what on the go.
Kadjar takes premium 95 RON petrol, with claimed fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km.
We were getting 7.3L/100km after more than 500km of city and inter-urban driving.
Renault offers a substantial 5-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with 5-year free roadside assist, capped-price services and impressive 12-month/30,000km service intervals.
What we like?
- Slightly larger than Qashqai
- Responsive performance
- Good fuel economy
- Digital speedo
- 5-year warranty
What we don’t like?
- Chunky key card
- Euro audio control stalk
- Poor turning circle
- Misses out on auto cruise control
- Cruise/limiter selection switch
- Features can be hard to find in infotainment menu
The bottom line?
Renault seems to have put some distance between itself and French colleagues Peugeot/Citroen.
Cars like the Kadjar tick all the boxes, offer a bit of prestige and come with the surety of a decent five-year warranty — not to mention long service intervals which will say running costs.
The bottom line is that cars like the Kadjar are becoming increasingly hard to ignore and rightly so — well done, Renault.
CHECKOUT: Renault Trafic: Some French savior-faire
Renault Kadjar Intens, priced from $36,990 driveaway
Looks - 7.5/10
Performance - 7.5/10
Safety - 8/10
Thirst - 7.5/10
Practicality - 8/10
Comfort - 8/10
Tech - 7.5/10
Value - 8/10