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Conceived as a global car, the Renault Kadjar is one of the more recent entries into the busy C-segment crossover market. With low emissions and latest-generation dCi engines, Richard Gooding examines if it is destined for fleet success.
It’s surprising that the Renault Kadjar only arrived in 2015: based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s ‘Common Module Family’ (CMF) vehicle architecture which also underpins the Nissan Qashqai, it’s an eminently sensible move by the French company to enter the booming crossover market with a car which shares many unseen components with one of its Japanese bedfellow’s most popular models. And that’s not to do the Kadjar a disservice – the Qashqai is a very capable and very popular car, so if the Kadjar has inherited some of its cousin’s DNA, then all for the good.
Building on the looks of the smaller and staggeringly popular Captur mini-SUV (GreenFleet issue 84), the Kadjar embraces Renault’s current design language with a prominently striking front end, flowing haunches and a Clio-like rear. Available in both two and four-wheel drive versions with both manual and automatic transmissions, and with emissions starting at 99g/km thanks to the company’s proven 110bhp dCi engine, the Kadjar is now an established C-segment crossover player. Other obvious rivals the Kadjar can count in its sights include the Ford Kuga, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Renault claims that the range of petrol and diesel engines fitted to the Kadjar are “advanced, reliable and low on consumption”. Latest-generation injection, regenerative braking, and stop/start systems, as well as downsizing and friction reduction technologies certainly seem to bear this out. The 108bhp Euro 6 four‑cylinder dCi 110 engine will be familiar to Renault and Nissan drivers past, and with 191lb ft/260Nm of torque available at 1,750rpm, the 1,380kg Kadjar Dynamique S Nav feels relatively swift, reaching 62mph from rest in 11.9 seconds. At speed the familiar diesel unit is refined enough – cruising at motorway legal limits the engine is spinning at only 2,000rpm – with only marginal levels of noise entering the cabin.
That cabin is cushioned from the outside world by a suspension set-up which delivers a comfortable ride, and with a lolloping – but not unengaging – nature, the Kadjar is a relaxed motorway companion. Bumps and other road imperfections are barely transmitted into the car, and very minimal road noise can be heard. Should it be taken off straight roads, though, the Kadjar acquits itself extremely well. It grips on gamely through corners and exhibits little body roll, feeling composed and easily placeable on the road thanks to nicely-weighted steering.
The interior reflects the comfortable ride, and is an equally relaxed place to be. The plastics and quality are a step up on the Captur, with fewer cheap-looking surfaces on show, but while there are links to other smaller Renaults in its design DNA, the overall style is a little blander than its relatives. There’s no denying the Kadjar’s spaciousness, though: there’s plenty of room for a family, and at 472 litres with the rear seats in place, the boot is on the larger side when compared to its rivals.
The seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre of the dashboard has a landscape rather than a portrait orientation as with current thinking from the French manufacturer, but it responds well, and comes with satellite navigation as standard. It also displays all sorts of eco information, such as the driver’s acceleration, anticipation, and gear change ‘scores’, to help improve fuel consumption. There is an overall eco ‘score evolution’, too, so the environmentally‑friendliness of any particular trip can be compared against values from a number of previous journeys.
Renault quotes an official combined cycle fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg for Kadjars with 17-inch wheels, and 72.4mpg for models with 19-inch rims. Our test car was fitted with the smaller wheels in keeping with its greener demeanour, and over our 549-mile test, achieved a real-world average fuel return of 58.7mpg. For comparison, last year we spent 375 miles in the Nissan Qashqai n-tec+ with the same engine (GreenFleet issue 84), and returned an average of 51.1mpg. Overall, there’s very little in it, then – both manufacturers quote the same official fuel economy figure, too – with the pair of French and Japanese-badged cars recording credible economy figures for their size.
The Kadjar Dynamique S Nav also features an ‘Eco’ mode to further improve efficiency while cruising. A feature which optimises fuel consumption, it limits the power consuming sources such as the heating and air conditioning and is easily switched on or off depending on the drivers’ need.
The Kadjar range spans five trim levels – Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav and Signature S Nav – with prices starting at £19,145 OTR for the petrol-engined Expression+ TCe 130 with 126g/km of CO2. The Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 sits in the middle of the big Renault’s range at £23,645, while the range tops out with the Signature S Nav dCi 130 4WD at £28,845. The roughly comparable Nissan Qashqai N-Connecta dCi 110 starts at £24,210.
Kit count is good on the Dynamique S Nav. Standard equipment includes automatic dual zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, front fog lights, lane departure and traffic sign recognition safety systems, LED daytime running lights, roof rails, seven‑inch R-Link 2 infotainment system with satellite navigation and TomTom Live real-time traffic and data services/Bluetooth/DAB/USB, Arkamys ‘3D’ 4x35W sound system, and seven-inch TFT digital dashboard display.
Optional equipment on our test car included Cosmos Blue metallic paint at £545, an emergency spare wheel at £100 and the no‑cost option of ‘Athena’ 17‑inch wheels for improved economy. The standard wheels fitted on Dynamique S Nav cars are ‘Apollo’ diamond‑cut rims, which look fantastic. The downside is that CO2 emissions rise to 103g/km, which pops this version of the Kadjar into VED Band B, one group higher than the smaller-rimmed car.
With CO2 emissions of 99g/km, the Kadjar Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 slips into Band A, the cheapest rate of vehicle excise duty. Therefore, this version of the Kadjar currently costs £0 first year and the same annually thereafter as VED bands are currently divided. Benefit in Kind values for the Kadjar range from 19 to 25 per cent, with the Dynamique S Nav dCi 110’s 20 per cent sitting around the lower end of that scale.
The Renault Kadjar is a good value and handsomely-proportioned addition to the C-segment crossover market. In Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 trim it is good to drive, offers more than reasonable economy and has plenty of equipment. Specify the smaller wheels, though, to benefit from the sub-100g/km of CO2 emissions and corresponding low rates of tax, which further strengthen the Kadjar’s case for both fleets and families, and should ensure Renault’s continued crossover success.