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The Kadjar is Renault’s new C-segment crossover but it’s got a secret – it shares a platform with the popular Nissan Qashqai. But rather than just producing a Qashqai clone, Renault has tried to give Kadjar its own individual identity. For a start, the Kadjar blends a rugged SUV look with the voluptuous curves we’ve seen already on Renault’s smaller crossover, the Captur.
Inside, it’s all very pleasant and comfortable with seating for five and a large boot (472 litres) that’s easy to access and load. The cabin is a strong point for the Kadjar. The materials all feel good to touch and they look good too. There’s nothing cheap or nasty about it. The design is simple and uncluttered, and all cars come as standard with a digital driver information display with some snazzy blue graphics.
The equipment levels are good across the range with entry level Expression + models getting most of the must-haves like Bluetooth, cruise control, four electric windows, electronic parking brake, air con and fog lights. Unfortunately no alloys though. You need to step up to Dynamique Nav trim for alloy wheels, but the upgrade also includes a touchscreen system for infotainment and navigation in the centre of the dash.
The most welcome thing about the Kadjar is just how pleasant it is to drive, which is not always a given when it comes to crossovers. No this one is just like a big hatchback. There is absolutely no roughness about it so if you want your SUVs more rugged look elsewhere. But who really wants that?
The Kadjar is really comfortable and feels like it’s gliding along the road. The hatchback qualities are good because the handling and steering feel sharp enough to give you quite a sporty drive when you get off the motorways. In town, it feels relatively agile for its size and it’s easy to control it to get in and around those tight spots.
If it’s diesel you’re after, you could go for the 1.6 diesel with 130bhp, which feels really powerful and refined, and also gives you the option of four wheel drive. If you’re more of an urban driver, there’s a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine producing 130bhp. But the most economical of the bunch is the 1.5 diesel with 110bhp, returning up to 74mpg.
The range starts at just shy of €25,000 for the petrol powered Kadjar in entry level Expression + trim. Diesel models start at €26,790. A 1.5 dCi in Dynamique Nav trim (with the alloys and the touchscreen) has a list price of €28,290. There’s a higher specced Dynamique S Nav from €29,290 and a top of the range Signature Nav from €30,790.
The Renault Kadjar was one of the biggest surprise cars for me of 2015. I wouldn’t naturally levitate towards crossovers but the Kadjar makes the jaunt over into crossover territory less uncomfortable. The Kadjar blends quite effortlessly the refinement and easy driving quality of a hatchback, the size, practicality and comfort of a five seat MPV, and the coolness and desirability of an SUV. There really is very little to complain about. It’s the ultimate family car reloaded with a French twist.
Model Tested: Renault Kadjar dCi 130 Dynamique Nav
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 113g/km
Motor Tax: €200 per year