Both cars might share the same platform but how different are they? I put them through their paces to find out just who is king of the crossover segment.
The family favourite
Nissan introduced the oddly named Qashqai a few years ago and ever since then the car has grown in popularity. Driving on the roads one will notice a vast number of these cars. The relatively new model is also becoming a common sight. After spending a month with our long-term model it’s clear to see why the little Nissan is so likable.
The Qashqai is 49mm longer than the previous model and fractionally lower and wider as well, giving it a sleek, poised stance while maintaining its crossover style, compact dimensions and raised driving position. Distinctive features, which I really like on the car, include the clamshell-style bonnet, which has been raised. Another feature is the muscular wheel arches.
Inside the Nissan, the cabin is relatively spacious and ergonomic. Rear leg and head room is ample and the boot space is decent. There is an air of quality throughout the cabin and the dashboard features some good materials, although some plastics do tend to feel a bit cheap.
What’s the new boy like?
This battle should be in favour of the Kadjar as Renault has had about a year or so to improve on the Nissan, and it has. For starters, the Renault looks really good from just about every angle, in particular the front end, which exudes an impression of strength. The manner in which the chrome strip continues across the LED head lights enhances the visual impression of width and contributes to the Kadjar's assertive character.
The Kadjar also has a slightly bigger boot than the Qashqai, 472 litres to be exact. Rear leg and head room on both cars are similar. Where the Kadjar trumps the Qashqai is in the dashboard layout department. It just looks and feels simpler than that offered by the Nissan and the R-Link 2 multimedia entertainment system is pretty nifty as well. It is easy to use, mostly because it has similar features to that of an iPad, like the ‘swipe’ function between different menus. It’s not the fastest system but the SatNav is pretty cool. I also like the digital instrument display. It gives you the option to customize the colour and look of the display. Unfortunately, the Kadjar that I drove did not have the 360-degree camera view like the Nissan has.
On the road
Both cars offer a similar driving experience, which is mostly due to the fact that they share the same compliant platform and the same 1.2-litre turbocharged engine. However, Renault has managed to squeeze in a bit more power. The Kadjar develops 96kW/205Nm. The Nissan on the otherhand develops 85kW and 190Nm. These figures won’t blow you away but they do a pretty good job of returning an impressive fuel economy figure. Both cars are averaging about 8.2 litres in the combined cycle. Both the Qashqai and the Kadjar have six-speed manual transmissions. The issue that I have is that there’s a bit of turbo lag at low speeds and one needs to rev them a bit on inclines, to get going.
After spending time with both cars it is difficult to choose a winner. The Nissan has proved itself over the years but the Renault is newer and fresher. They are both very similar but if I had to drive home in one it would be the Renault Kadjar. I like the way it looks and I think that’s the deciding factor in a test like this where both cars are almost identical.
Renault Kadjar from: R359 900
Nissan Qashqai from: R331 900