Renault Kadjar review
The Renault Kadjar is a spacious SUV that’s perfect for the family – it just isn’t that exciting inside and it’s pretty dull to drive.
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The Renault Kadjar is is the French firm’s contender in the big-selling family SUV category. These cars sell in huge numbers these days because they’re more spacious than a conventional hatchback with a higher driving position but they cost a bit more to run.
Think of the Renault Kadjar as a Nissan Qashqai with a little more je ne sais quoi and you won’t go far wrong, because underneath it shares much of its running gear with the Japanese car.
The Renault Kadjar looks a lot more imposing on the outside than a hatchback such as the VW Golf and Renault Megane. It comes with large alloy wheels, a smattering of chrome trim and plenty of contrasting black trim on the bumpers and wheel arches so it’ll have no trouble standing out on the school run.
Sadly, the Renault Kadjar interior isn’t quite as eye-catching as those in- some other SUVs. Sure, it has plenty of soft plastics and a few brushed metal trims, but the Kia Sportage looks more exciting while the VW Tiguan feels more solidly put together.
Unlike these cars, you get a digital driver’s display as standard in the Renault Kadjar alongside a touchscreen infotainment system. It all looks pretty flash, but using the built-in sat nav is a bit trickier than in alternatives – a bit like paying for something with cash rather than using your contactless bank card.
You could be forgiven for thinking the Kadjar looks a bit like a Qashqai – they’re essentially the same car, although the Nissan is more comfortable and the Renault’s a bit roomier.
At least you’ll be sitting comfortably while you fiddle with the Renault Kadjar’s touchscreen. You get plenty of seat and steering-wheel adjustment as standard and there’s enough space for you to stretch out if you’re tall.
It’s a similar story in the back where there’s room for three adults, but you don’t get any clever sliding seats like in the Skoda Karoq. The boot’s roomy enough for everyone’s luggage, though, and the flat boot floor makes it easy to slide in heavy luggage.
Usually, you’ll want to pick a diesel engine if you plan to carry lots of heavy luggage, but the Renault Kadjar’s 115hp diesel engine is more suited to casual motorway cruising than lugging heavy loads. There’s a more powerful 140hp petrol which is ideally suited to pottering around town.
Whichever engine you pick, you’ll find the Renault Kadjar is pretty comfortable to drive. It doesn’t quite iron out bumps as well as the Nissan Qashqai, but it’s more relaxing than the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson and doesn’t lean a great deal in tight corners.
Unfortunately, the Renault Kadjar is a little noisy to drive at motorway speeds. This isn’t because of its engines, rather you’ll hear quite a lot of wind and tyre noise. To help make things a bit more relaxing, you can get it with a smooth automatic gearbox instead of the standard manual and a range of driver assistance systems from automatic emergency braking and cruise control to lane-departure warning.
All this makes the Renault Kadjar pretty easy to live with every day. It’s certainly an SUV that’s well worth considering if you’re looking for something that’s easy to drive, practical and pretty well equipped.
There’s room for tall adults in the back seats its boot is easily big enough for a large weekly shop, but you don’t get folding rear armrests and an adjustable boot floor on basic Kadjars.
The Renault Kadjar has plenty of space in the front for you to get comfortable if you’re very tall – even in S Edition models and above with their panoramic glass roof.
Every model in the Kadjar range comes with a height-adjustable driver’s seat to help you get a good view out and Iconic models and above get adjustable lumbar support to help reduce backache on long journeys.
The steering wheel comes with height and reach adjustment as standard too, so you get an unobstructed view of the Kadjar’s digital driver’s display whether you’re very tall or a little smaller.
Your passengers in the back won’t have much to complain about. The Renault Kadjar is noticeably more spacious than the Nissan Qashqai so even your six-foot friends will have enough head and legroom in the back to stretch out. Things get a little more cramped if you squeeze three in the back because there’s a large lump in the rear floor that you won’t find in a Peugeot 3008 or a Ford Kuga.
Fitting a child seat is easy, though – the Isofix anchor points for the seat base are clearly marked and the rear doors open nice and wide. The only annoyance is that the plastic covers for the Isofix anchor points are removable and, therefore, are easy to lose.
The Renault Kadjar has a decent amount of room to squirrel away a few family bits and bobs, but the front door bins and glovebox aren’t quite big enough for a 1.5-litre bottle.
Unfortunately, the same can be said of the front cupholders – they’ll struggle to hold an extra-grande-venti-mochaccino and are positioned precariously close to both the gear lever and the button for the electronic handbrake. Lunge enthusiastically for first gear and you might just dowse your passenger with hot coffee.
More useful is the standard front centre armrest that folds up to reveal a handy storage bin. It’s perfect for an extra bottle of water or for hiding some valuables – such as a camera – safely out of sight.
Jump in the back and you’ll find the door pockets aren’t quite as generous as those in front, but there’s a pair of handy storage pockets – for maps or an iPad – behind the front seats. If you want to treat your rear passengers to an armrest, you’ll have to pick a Renault Kadjar Iconic model or above. They come with a fold-out item in the centre-seat backrest that comes with two small built-in cupholders as standard.
The Renault Kadjar has 472 litres of boot space which is more than you find in a Nissan Qashqai but significantly less than you get in a Skoda Karoq. With five seats and the load cover in place, the Renault Kadjar can carry a baby buggy and a pair of suitcases. If you remove these items, the boot’s wide enough to carry a set of golf clubs.
If you need to carry really large items, you can flip the rear seats down to open up a fairly roomy 1,478-litre load bay. The seats fold down in a two-way (60:40) split as standard so you can carry long luggage and a rear passenger at the same time. There’s no annoying lip or step by the boot opening either, so it’s easy to slide in some very heavy luggage.
Iconic models and above come with handy levers in the boot to flip the rear seats down so you don’t have to reach forward to press the release buttons beside the seat headrests like in a Nissan Qashqai – handy if you’ve already got armfuls of heavy luggage.
These mid-range Renault Kadjar Iconic cars also come with an adjustable boot floor that all but eliminates the slight step behind the rear seats when they’re folded down. There’s even some room underneath to store the load cover and you can rotate half of the two-piece floor by 90 degrees and use it as a handy boot divider.
There are a few tether points to tie-down larger items and a large storage bin either side of the adjustable boot floor, but the two small shopping hooks under the load cover will struggle to secure large, heavy bags.
The Renault Kadjar is easy to drive around town and fairly relaxing on the motorway but it isn’t quite as comfortable as the Nissan Qashqai.
You can get the Renault Kadjar with one diesel and one petrol engine. There’s also the option of a manual or automatic gearbox, but unlike in previous Kadjars, you can’t get the latest model with four-wheel drive.
The entry-level TCe 140 petrol model is a good all-rounder – especially if you do lots of short journeys around town. It’ll accelerate from 0-60mph in a reasonable (but by no means rapid) 10.4 seconds and it doesn’t feel like it’s straining to pull the Kadjar along when you accelerate hard. You won’t have too much trouble getting close to Renault’s claimed 42mpg fuel economy, either.
If long drives are more your thing, you’ll be better off with the Blue dCi 115 diesel engine. This 1.5-litre engine isn’t particularly powerful – it produces 115hp – but it cruises along pretty comfortably at 70mph and returns around 55mpg in normal driving conditions.
If you find yourself regularly stuck in heavy traffic, you might want to consider the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. It’s available in 140hp petrol and 115hp diesel Kadjars and helps make stop-start traffic much more bearable. It changes gear smoothly at speed but can be slightly jerky when you’re parking.
The Renault Kadjar’s raised driving position gives you a good view of the road ahead and there aren’t any particularly awkward blind spots to worry about.
The light steering makes manoeuvring through tight city streets fairly easy but only Iconic models and above come front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard. Top-spec GT Line models come with a self-parking system that’ll steer you into bay and parallel space automatically.
Once you’ve left the car park, you’ll find the Renault Kadjar is reasonably comfortable, especially if you avoid the larger 19-inch alloy wheels. You’ll feel bumps a little more than in a Nissan Qashqai – most noticeably at slow speeds – but it’s still more relaxing to drive than a Kia Sportage.
On the motorway, the Renault Kadjar stays reasonably composed, but cars with larger alloy wheels produce quite a lot of unpleasant tyre noise at speed. You’ll also hear a fair bit of wind noise – a result of the Renault Kadjar’s bluff shape and large wing mirrors.
This is less noticeable on twisty country roads, where the Renault Kadjar does a decent job of stopping its tall body leaning. It doesn’t feel quite as nimble as a SEAT Ateca, but it irons out bumps more smoothly without your passengers having any reason to feel car sick.
All models come with automatic emergency braking – a feature that’ll apply the brakes to help prevent avoidable collisions – while top-spec cars come with blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning (to stop you wandering out of your lane on the motorway).
There’s enough space in the back for your six-foot tall friends to get fairly comfortable but the Renault Kadjar’s interior is far from exciting – even with its standard digital driver’s display.
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