What is it?
THE names are getting weirder and weirder, because every name imaginable that could be applied to a new vehicle has either already been used by one brand — or claimed and pigeonholed by another.
Valkyrie, Gladiator, Thunderbird are among the ones that have the Aldi touch: Good, different.
Likewise Demon, Stratos, Javelin and Disco Volante.
They all sound better than a letter and/or a number and some are really strange because they’re generated by an illiterate computer or are variations of tribes, places or creatures in mythology — or far-off countries.
Some are really funny, such as the Daihatsu Terios, which should have been called the Telios (Greek for the peak), the Mitsubishi Starion should have been a Stallion, Toyota had a model called Deliboy and Mitsubishi once had a Lettuce — and Urban Sandal.
Which brings us to the newest name to arrive on our big island: Renault’s Kadjar.
We’re told it was derived from a mix of ‘quad’ and ‘agile.’
The quad bit became ‘Kad’ and ‘Jar’ is French for agile, and as a backup, there’s another Gallic word ‘Jaillir’ which means to ’emerge suddenly.’
Well, it emerged quite suddenly on our market and yes, it sure does have four wheels and is quite agile for a small-to-medium-sized SUV.
What’s it cost?
Kadjar sits between the compact Captur and Koleos (there’s another strange name) in the French brand’s range here in Australia.
It’s a good-looking vehicle that shares its platform with Nissan’s Qashqai and it has a three-tier buyer choice.
Prices start at $29,990 for the Life, that comes auto-on headlights and wipers, cruise control, LED daytime running lights, climate control, Apple CarPlay. 17-inch alloys and Android Auto, and alloy wheels.
Safety items include six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), reversing camera and 360 degree monitor, plus parking sensors fore and aft.
Next up is the Zen, which, for $32,990, adds blind-spot monitoring , audible lane-departure warning, push-button start, an oo-la-la fancy proximity key, cloth seat trim, satnav and roof rails.
There’s also tyre pressure monitoring, which quickly let me know I’d picked up an unfriendly something right rear that was slowly deflating the classy Continental tyre.
Add to this fog lights with cornering function, side parking sensors, one-touch folding rear seats, rear air vents, a big boot and auto-folding door mirrors.
Top model is the $37,990 Intens, which scores LED headlights, auto park assist, heated leather seats, premium Bose audio, 19-inch two-tone alloys and a panoramic glass roof.
The dash lighting can be twirled to reflect your favourite hue and the controls are logically placed and easy to use.
What’s it go like?
Interestingly, the Kadjar is is almost as spacious as a medium-sized SUV, but is priced among the compacts.
It has loads of leg, shoulder and headroom, plentiful storage nooks and plug-in facilities and looking at its chic Euro lines from outside, most would think it has an engine of around 2.0 litres — but non, mon ami — it’s a petite 1.3-litre turbo four-pot firecracker with a 117kW/260Nm kick.
The same motor is also used in some A and B series Mercedes.
Transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch auto that drives the front wheels.
It’s typical of a dual-clutch system in that there’s a momentary hesitation before it figures it’s time to go walkies, and then it’s at its best behaviour for the rest of your trip.
Visibility is excellent and the vehicle gives its occupants a very comfortable ride.
Indeed, space and comfort seem to be the Kadjar’s priorities.
It runs very well, dispatching the sprint to 100km/h in a smidgen under 10 seconds, and fuel economy is also impressive.
We averaged 6.7L/100km, mainly in and around suburbia.
It’s smooth and easy to drive, with good sound isolation, and super light electric-boosted steering gives it effortless parking manoeuvrability.
What we like?
What we don’t like?
The bottom line?
Beauty and brains, comfort, space and efficiency, not to mention a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty — make the Spanish-built Kadjar a very bright star.
CHECKOUT: Renault Trafic: Room for the crew
Renault Kadjar, priced from $29,990
- Looks - 8/108/10
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Safety - 8/108/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Comfort - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value - 8/108/10