Car review: Renault Kadjar is an impressive option for families

Renault is trying to improve quality and move upmarket with its new 'crossover' car, says Dr Tony Rimmer

Do you remember clinical practice before routine CT and MRI scans became mainstays of the medical investigative armamentarium?  Like other modern investigations, we take them for granted and if we just stop to think, we wonder how we managed without them.

Advances in design and technology influence every aspect of our lives and the types of cars we buy are no different. Not long ago, the only choice of family car we had was between a saloon, hatchback or an estate. Now we have SUVs, 4x4s and most recently, crossovers.

What is a crossover car?

A crossover is something between a hatchback and an estate with some SUV pretentions. Clear?

Well, SUVs are designed with some off-road ability and crossovers are not. However, some crossovers are available with four-wheel drive and some SUVs are available with two-wheel drive only. If, like me, you find this rather confusing then the car buying public have obviously ignored the perplexity as the crossover market has blossomed over the last couple of years.

The UK’s best selling crossover is the Nissan Qashqui but other contenders include the Honda HR-V, Maxda CX-5, the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tuscon.

The most recent addition to the fold is the new Renault Kadjar and it arrives with impeccable credentials. Capitalising on the sixteen years of Renault-Nissan Alliance, the Kadjar is built on the underpinnings of the class-leading Nissan Qashqui but has its own body, trim and character.

Broad engine range

A broad engine range includes the 50.4mpg 128bhp petrol 1.2TCe, the 73.4mpg 108bhp diesel 1.5dCi and the 62.8mpg 128bhp diesel 1.6dCi.

An automatic gearbox is a £1,200 option on the diesel 1.5dCi only and a £1,500 4x4 option is available only on the top 1.6dCi model.

Various trim packages are available and my test car was the £24,795 1.6dCi Signature Nav model which is top of the range. It comes with full LED headlights, panoramic sun-roof, cloth/leather upholstery and a BOSE sound system as standard. Sat-Nav, keyless entry and all round parking sensors with rear camera complete the package.

One neat feature, and new to me, is automatic headlight dipping. The very bright LED headlights detect an approaching car and dip when necessary. This works better than I anticipated and is a good aid to safety.

These standard accessories help raise the feel of this mainstream Renault towards the level of the more expensive premium brands like Mercedes and BMW and I can guarantee that these extras would hike their price significantly.

Family friendly

Crossovers are all about great packaging, ease of use and family friendliness. They seem to be the ideal solution for everyday use and the Kadjar is no exception. You sit higher than you would in a hatchback and this gives a greater feeling of security. The dashboard is modern and well laid out and there is plenty of room for four adults or two adults with three teenagers in the back.

Although the plastics feel a little cheap, the Kadjar is massively advanced from a quality point of view when compared with Renaults of old.

The controls are all light and easy to use and the steering is direct and pleasantly weighted. The gearchange is so easy that you would only need the automatic model if you live and practice in a city.

Capable handling

Handling is capable and predictable and only a keen driver would miss the sharper responses of a Golf or Ford Focus. The diesel engine’s noise is subdued and performance perfectly adequate. There is a little wind noise at speed but the overall refinement is impressive. On the bigger rimmed 19 inch alloy wheels, the ride is a bit firm but never uncomfortable. I would recommend the 17 or 18 inch options for comfort.

So how does it rate against its class-leading cousin, the Qashqui? Well, as one would expect, the driving experience is almost identical but the Kadjar has more space and is slightly cheaper when comparing like with like. Renault is trying to improve quality and move upmarket and this new car clearly demonstrates this.

If you are a GP with growing children, the new Renault Kadjar clearly shows that you don’t need to spend a lot of hard earned income to get everything you need in a family car. It may not have a Land Rover, BMW or Audi badge but it delivers at least 90% in all comparative areas. 

The gap between mainstream and premium brand cars has never been so narrow. Despite its awkward name, the Kadjar deserves your consideration if you are in the market for great value family transportation.

  •  Dr Rimmer is a GP in Surrey and tweets @frankaboutcars
Renault Kadjar dCi 130 Signature Nav 

Body Five door hatchback  
Engine 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power 128bhp
Torque 350 Nm
Top speed 115 mph
Acceleration 0-60mph in 10.8 secs
Claimed economy Up to 62.8 mpg
On the road price £24,795

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