Until a couple of years ago, Renault’s car line-up looked very conventional. With several years of dwindling sales some fresh ideas were needed.
The Captur compact crossover, introduced two years ago, has been a hit with buyers, and now Renault is trying to recreate that success with a larger model. The Kadjar (the name of an ancient Persian dynasty, but Renault also says a play on Quad – referencing the four-wheel drive ability – and jaillir, French word that suggests agility and responsiveness) will be available in September, with orders officially open from July. There are four equipment grades, starting with Expression+, rising through Dynamique Nav and Dynamique S Nav to Signature at the top.
The range starts at £17,995 on the road for the 1.2-litre TCe 130 Expression+, with diesel versions starting at £19,895 for the 110hp 1.5-litre dCi Expression+.
The version that is likely to be most popular is the 1.5-litre dCi Dynamique S Nav at £22,395. Core features on Expression+ include electronic parking brake, digital radio, front foglights, LED daytime running lamps, seven-inch TFT instrument panel with digital speedometer, electric windows, air conditioning, bluetooth connectivity, USB socket, and a tyre inflation kit.
Dynamique Nav adds 17-inch alloy wheels, R-Link 2 multimedia system with navigation, hands-free keycard, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic headlight beam adjustment, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, chrome exterior detailing, rear privacy glass, leather-covered steering wheel, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, upgraded audio system and cornering function on front foglights.
Dynamique S Nav includes 19-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, part leather upholstery, driver’s seat height-adjustment, one-touch folding rear bench, heated door mirrors and multi-position boot floor.
Range-topping Signature Nav has full LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, alternative design 19-inch diamond-cut alloys, BOSE audio system, bespoke part-leather trim, painted front and rear skid plates, side and boot kick plates, Nappa leather steering wheel and a height-adjustable passenger seat.
Looks are subjective, but to my eyes at least (and many others on the launch event), the Kadjar has a distinctive and attractive appearance, with proportions that disguise its 4.4m length well.
It shares its underpinnings with the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail, and the new Renault Espace (not available in the UK). As well as the necessity of sharing technology between both brands, Renault says there is an advantage in using proven components. It will go up against the Qashqai, although bosses must be hoping it won’t take too many sales from alliance-partner Nissan.
The Kadjar’s petrol engine comes with a bit more power than the equivalent Nissan Qashqai. Renault will offer 130hp from the turbocharged 1.2-litre (as opposed to 115hp on the Nissan), and all versions of that engine will have CO2 emissions of 130g/km or lower.
But there will still be more fleet interest in diesel versions. Like the Qashqai, some manual and EDC auto versions of the 110hp 1.5-litre dCi have CO2 emissions from 99g/km. We tried a four-wheel drive 1.6-litre dCi 130, which has CO2 emissions of 129g/km, although CO2 emissions with this engine can be as low as 113g/km if you choose standard two-wheel drive and the smaller wheels of Dynamique Nav specification.
Our four-wheel drive version had 2WD, auto and lock settings, with auto letting the car manage the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles and sending up to 50% rearward when needed.
The Kadjar has a pleasantly roomy interior with high-quality finish in the high-end versions available. It can accommodate five adults comfortably, and is a capable performer on the road. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is one of the best in its class: smooth, responsive and refined. Progress perhaps could be better if the gearshift had a smoother, shorter action, but overall the car manages to combine good comfort and agility.