By Wayne Gorrett
Thanks to the Renault/Nissan Alliance, the Renault Kadjar shares much with the Nissan Qashqai, one of the best-selling cars of its type. That attribute alone makes the Kadjar a very good all-rounder.
What’s more, it’s comfortable and controlled on the road, practical for the family and reasonably well-equipped – while also adding a dose of individual Gallic style.
It doesn’t have the interior quality of some rivals (the Qashqai included) and the safety roster could be more generous, but nevertheless, it’s still well worth your consideration.
The Kadjar arrived on UK shores in 2015 and last year it was given a mild facelift to keep it competitive in what is a veritable bull pit of SUV rivals.
Last week, I spent an all-too-brief sojourn in the Renault Kadjar S Edition, fitted with the 140hp TCi turbocharged petrol engine, paired with a six speed manual gearbox and presented in Cosmos Blue metallic paint. Here’s what I thought…
For its 2019 model year, the Kadjar comes with redesigned grille, new front and rear bumpers and a healthy dose of exterior chrome.
A new range of alloy wheels are offered on the updated Kadjar, in sizes of 17-, 18- and 19-inch. At the front, the familiar C-shape light clusters now have LED turn indicators integrated into the LED daytime running light strip – a trick of the eye that gives the car a premium look.
The inside story
More important changes are found inside where the slightly larger touchscreen is now easier to use thanks to a design that’s now flush with the centre console with some touch-sensitive controls to the side, as well as more upmarket-looking air-con controls, bigger door bins and illuminated window switches. There are also some new seat trims and an extendable seat base to boost comfort.
The 2019 Kadjar is just as practical as the pre-facelift model. That means a generous amount of space front and back, the option of a large panoramic roof and a generous load area with modular boot floor to adjust the boot height or divide the load space in two. Renault’s also made the door bins a bit bigger than before, while the rear seats can be folded by flicking a switch in the boot rather than walking around and doing it from the side door.
Little changes that make enough of a difference every day to make the Kadjar stand out a little more.
At 527 litres, the boot is an impressive size and there’s a false boot floor that lets you open up more capacity or level out the steps in the load area, depending on your needs. What’s more, the rear 60:40 split seats fold perfectly flat to reveal a useful 1,478 litres of space, which will help enormously for those more bulky loads.
‘S Edition’ equipment
The car’s trim grade hierarchy has also been simplified to make more sense to buyers. There’s the range-entry ‘Play’, followed by Iconic, S Edition (as tested) and the top-spec GT Line.
Standard equipment is much improved with this 2019 model year Kadjar and includes auto lights and wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, front fog lamps with cornering function, hill start assist, rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitor, rear privacy glass, dual zone auto climate control, seven-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration and Bluetooth connectivity, FM/AM/DAB tuner, 4 x20W speakers, audio streaming and USB and AUX sockets.
The S Edition offers an array of extra goodies such as LED high & low beam headlights with LED turn indicators, 19-inch Diamond Cut ‘Zeus’ alloy wheels, fixed glass panoramic sunroof, front and rear skid plates, R-LINK2 multimedia system comprising a seven-inch touchscreen, TomTom LIVE services.
Engines and transmissions
The biggest news lies under the bonnet of the new Kadjar as here you’ll find a new 1.3-litre turbo petrol also deployed in the Qashqai and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It is offered in a choice of 140 or 160hp states of tune and both are available with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed EDC dual-clutch gearboxes.
If diesel best suits your high-mileage work-life balance, there are two four-cylinder turbodiesel engines dubbed Blue dCi 115 and Blue dCi 150. The former comes with a choice of transmissions like the petrols, while the more powerful unit is available in 2WD or 4WD forms.
On the road
I drove the TCe 140 manual – which is one of the big sellers in the new Kadjar range (around 70% of buyers go for a petrol currently) – and it significantly impressed.
Its 140hp is delivered smoothly and quietly and, thanks to a healthy 240Nm of torque, it’s more than capable of completing overtaking manoeuvres without too much careful planning or second-guessing.
On twisty roads though, you’ll need to make good use of the six-speed manual gearbox. Essentially, the gearbox is fine but can feel a little loose and vague switching enthusiastically between ratios and the gear lever itself has a rather cheap feel to it.
Rev the TCe 140 to its upper reaches and it becomes a tad too vocal. But then, a practical, family-oriented SUV isn’t really the kind of car to be doing that in. Of greater value to Kadjar buyers is the fact that it’s easy to drive – a smooth performer that’s refined both at speed and around town.
It rides better than before – trust me, I have a pre-facelift 17-plate Kadjar on my driveway – even on larger 19-inch wheels of higher-spec models. A brief off-road jaunt did little to upset the car’s behaviour and over broken road surfaces and speed bumps it remained pleasantly composed.
The same may confidently be said of its cornering ability, remaining confidently composed with impressive grip levels and well-contained body roll.
All Kadjar models, including the range-entry Play model, come with standard safety kit which includes six airbags, two Isofix child seat mounting points and electronic stability control. From then on, the amount of safety kit you get depends on which version you pick.
Iconic trim adds lane departure warning for some extra assistance and, while S-Edition cars don’t add anything else to the safety roster, GT-Line trim adds automatic emergency braking and a blind spot warning system.
Those two important safety features are fitted to many rivals as standard equipment, which is disappointing from Renault. It may also harm the 2019 Kadjar’s chances of matching its predecessor’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, were it to be retested.
The Kadjar isn’t the most exciting car in its class, but the changes made for its 2019 mid-life update warrant a longer look and ensure it’s still a practical family offering among the abundance of SUV competition.
There’s also the added bonus of genuine kerb appeal thanks to its sharp looks, a quality feel inside and a range of new engines that are refined and very well-suited to the car. The noisy and ill-refined petrol engines previously spoiled things for the Kadjar, but are now the pick of the range.
Browse our latest top leasing deals on the updated Renault Kadjar in S Edition specification.