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Renault Kadjar

Motoring Review

Kadjar expands Renault’s impressive product portfolio

 

The year, 2015, will always be a memorable one for Renault in South Africa, with products like the Clio, updated Duster, the Captur and of course the new Sandero all contributing to the brand’s best ever year locally.

This year the brand looks to improve upon its 2015 success as it recently launched its new SUV contender, the Kadjar, while later in the year we can expect the new Mégane.

What’s a Kadjar?

The name itself, when broken up, is as follows: “Kad” meaning quad, versatile four-wheeled vehicle and the “Jar,” which, in French, means agile. Apart from its rather strange name the rest of the vehicle is quite traditional in its layout; it is an SUV, based upon the Nissan Qashqai platform, which is a solid place to start.

That design

From an exterior perspective the Kadjar is a great looking thing; it may have echoes of Qashqai but I do feel it is a more stylish vehicle. Up front there’s a massive Renault grille and badge, in line with the rest of the range’s design identity, while in side profile there are hints of its Nissan cousin with design elements common to the Captur and Clio. At the rear, it looks like a Clio that’s been working out, a lot.

Interior appointments

The interior of the Kadjar is what impressed me most. All the switchgear and instruments are new and not taken from other Renault models as we have seen with the Clio and Captur’s similarities. The quality of the materials and design of the interior is very appealing. There are still a few ergonomic quirks, like the strange location of the cruise control and heated-seat buttons in the centre console, or the traction control button situated in front of the driver’s right knee.

Overall though the interior is a great place to be, with a thoroughly modern seven-inch infotainment system in the higher spec models with a range of features (which we’ll delve into in our upcoming road test), an upmarket instrument binnacle and an overall impression of quality.

Engine range

The engine range didn’t throw up any surprises with a familiar 96kW/205Nm, 1.2-litre turbo petrol doing duty in two of the models as well as a 96kW/320Nm 1.6-litre diesel in the 4x4 model. For now, all models will get a six-speed manual gearbox which, on both models that I drove, proved to be a slick operator.

What’s it like to drive?

I drove both the 1.2 turbo petrol and the 4x4 diesel. The 1.2 petrol that I drove achieved a remarkable consumption figure of 6.2 litres/100km (claimed 5.7 - 5.8 litres/100km)  over our 100km plus, test route, which took some effort and advice from the vehicle’s Eco coaching and scoring function.

We drove the 4x4 model through the Atlantic dunes where the 200mm ground clearance, 18-degree approach and 28-degree departure angles were tested to their limit. I’m glad to report the vehicle that I was driving didn’t get stuck once. In terms of ride and handling, both models perform very well with enough grunt for the daily drive, great levels of comfort and a reasonable amount of ability in the bends.

Model range

The base model Expression does comes with quite a few features as standard. You’ll have to make do with the fact that it is a 16-inch wheel with hubcaps or get the optional 17-inch items.

However, there is: Aircon, Bluetooth/USB/Aux compatibility, Cruise control, Tyre pressure and Parking sensors. The Dynamique adds to the specification with: Dual-zone climate control, Roof rails, 17-inch alloys (19-inch optional), Seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Automatic windscreen wipers, LED headlights, Tinted rear windows, Fog lights, Electric mirrors, Key card, Leather-bound steering, wheel and gear lever.

Verdict

The Kadjar is a great product; I enjoyed driving both variants and was impressed at how premium the brand has made the vehicle feel. However, the vehicle carries a premium price tag. The top-of-the-range 4x4 diesel model is some R40 000 more than the equivalent Qashqai but it undercuts rivals from Honda, Jeep and Volkswagen and is competitive with offerings from Ford, Mazda and Mitsubishi.

Warranty and service

The Kadjar line-up comes standard with a five-year/150 000km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan.

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