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Renault Kadjar : The French connection


Crossover. SUV. The line between the two is blurred, and there doesn't seem to be an iron-cast definition of either. But either way the demand for vehicles in this category is near-bottomless, and one of the latest entrants into the segment is the exceptionally comely Renault Kadjar.

I covered the recent launch of this Gaul a little while back on these pages, and now after a week spent with the mid-range model - in the guise of the turbopetrol Dynamique - I can again confirm it does precisely what it says on the tin. 

This machine is largely based on Nissan Qashqai running gear, but with some added French flair, and the version I had pushes power to the front wheels. There is a range-topping, 1.6-litre turbodiesel model with 4X4, but the vast, overwhelming majority of these vehicles will be sold as lifestyle machines and statements, and will probably never leave a tarred surface. Never mind need 4X4.

Punch comes from a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder turbopetrol powerplant making 96kW at 5 500rpm, and 205Nm at 2,000rpm. Performance is more acceptable as opposed to intoxicating, and in this guise expect the Kadjar to steam to 100km/h from rest in 10.4 seconds, topping out at 189km/h. Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.8 litres per 100km in the combined cycle, and the interior well-finished and brimming with quality soft-touch plastics, while a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the cockpit.

Equipment levels are high, with the list including LED headlamps, and light and rain sensors. The test unit I had was also loaded with optional extras including 19-inch alloys (R8 000), a self-park system including rear camera and blindspot warning (R10 000), and heated and electric leather seats (R12 000).

The full suite of lifesaving acronyms is present, including ESP/ESC, EBD and ASR, which I'm not going to spell out as I think that they have by now sufficiently entered the automotive lexicon.

But wait! Shifts are taken care of by a six-speed manual common to all three Kadjar derivatives, yet what this crossover or SUV or whatever you want to call it really needs is a self-shifter. And later this month two derivatives employing Renault's EDC (Electronic Dual Clutch) transmission will be launched. I'm not yet sure of pricing, but if you're going for a Kadjar these are probably the ones to look at. Manual shifting - unless it's done for the tactile thrill of it all - is so 1990.

Yours for R384,900. That's excluding options - which can bump up the price, obviously - but including a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, and a five-year/90 000km service plan. 

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