If you want to be lazy, you can call the Renault Kadjar the French brand’s Nissan Qashqai rival. But of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Because Renault and Nissan are part of the same company, the fact is that the Kadjar basically is the Qashqai, under the skin anyway. They use the same engines, the same basic structure, the same electronics and the same running gear. The bodies are very different, of course (and we think it’s fair to say that the Renault is the better looking of the two) and the cabins are different, although in fairness the Renault doesn’t feel any less well made inside. Big, spacious, handsome, and good to drive — it’s no wonder the Kadjar has already been a strong seller for Renault.
The most basic Expression+ Kadjars come with a full set of safety kit, including ESP, ABS, lots of airbags, cruise control with a speed limiter, ISOFIX points in the rear seats for child car seats, a tyre-pressure monitor and automatic door locks. The cheapest cars only come with steel wheels, but you do get a height adjustable driver’s seat, trip computer, manual air conditioning, remote audio controls, Bluetooth and DAB and digital instruments (which are a bit cheap-looking to our eyes).
Ritzier Dynamique Nav models get a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, roof rails, lane departure warning, 17-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone climate control. You could upgrade to a Dynamique S Nav or Signature Nav, but to be honest a Dynamique Nav is well enough equipped for most people.
The engine range mirrors the Qashqai, so you get a choice of 1.2-litre petrol turbo, 1.5-litre turbodiesel or 1.6-litre turbodiesel.
As with the Qashqai, the 1.5-litre turbodiesel dCi engine is the default choice for most Kadjar buyers. With just 99g/km of CO2 and official fuel economy of better than 70mpg, it’s hardly surprising that it’s the top-seller. It’s a decent engine too, with good mid-range pull and reasonable refinement. It’s not necessarily the best Kadjar option, though, not least because it’s an older design, and you do need to watch higher mileage examples carefully for turbocharger problems (check for too much smoke on start-up and a lack of power). The newer-design 1.6 dCi is more powerful (130hp versus the 1.5’s 110hp) as well as being smoother, quieter and nicer to drive. Plus, it’s only €20 a year more to tax, so it’s well worth seeking one out as a second-hand buy. Urbanites should think about going for the 1.2 turbo petrol. With 130hp it’s not short of poke, and it still manages reasonable Band B tax.
The Kadjar is a bit too new for us to get a handle on how reliable and well-made it is, but some will still have at least three years of its five-year original manufacturer’s warranty to run, so that’s reassuring from a second-hand buyer’s point of view. The Kadjar often undercuts the Qashqai a little on price, too, which is worth remembering.
Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 182km/h
0-100km/h: 11.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 3.9 litres/100km
• Good looking
• Decent passenger and luggage space
• Smooth to drive
• Digital instruments look cheap
• Noisy cabins in high-mileage cars
• No seven-seat option
A French version of the Qashqai shouldn’t work, but does. The Kadjar is really good looking, pleasant to drive, roomy and has solid economy and emissions figures. All that and it’s (usually) a bit cheaper to buy than a Qashqai? Win-win.