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Renault Kadjar Review

Renault kadjar review

By Matt Robinson

What Is It?

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This is the Renault Kadjar, the largest crossover-SUV the company makes and a vehicle that shares much with the previous-generation (Mk2) Nissan Qashqai. It’s a 5-seater, high-riding family vehicle that competes in a class alongside the latest Qashqai, as well as a host of talented rivals including the Kia Sportage, the Hyundai Tucson, the Peugeot 3008, the Skoda Karoq and more. So how good is Renault’s biggest SUV?

What’s Good About It?

The Kadjar has a typically appealing Renault appearance. It was facelifted in 2018 to keep it fresh but it has always been a good-looking vehicle, with curvaceous flanks, tidy styling and neat design details. While there are more visually daring crossover-SUVs in this class, there’s little wrong with the way the Kadjar looks, even 8 years after it first went on sale. 

What Could Be Better?

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While time has been kind to the exterior styling, the interior of the Kadjar is starting to show its age – but it’s still a very nice place to be. That said, its digital displays are relatively small and simple by the standards of the very latest crossover SUVs, while the dashboard is mainly an expanse of dark-grey plastic. However, it’s all very well-built inside and the ergonomics are spot on. 

What’s It Like To Drive?

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Renault used to offer the Kadjar with a choice of 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol or 1.5- and 1.6-litre turbo diesel engines, as well as the option of 4-wheel drive on some of the higher-spec versions. It also used to sell the Kadjar with a wider range of trim grades too, such as Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. However, as the Kadjar approaches the end of its life, the choice of models has been simplified to 1 engine (a 1.33-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine), 2 gearboxes (a 6-speed manual or an automatic efficient dual-clutch, or EDC, unit) and 2 specifications (Equilibre and Techno).

The 1.33-litre turbo engine is shared with Nissan and Mercedes, and it’s a fine operator. It delivers 140hp in the Kadjar, with either 260Nm of torque if you choose the manual or a slightly lesser 240Nm in the EDC auto. However, either application is good enough to propel the front-wheel-drive Renault from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds, with the auto slightly quicker at 9.5 seconds to the manual’s 9.8-second sprint. 

While Renault as a company has a reputation for excellent chassis know-how, the Kadjar is not one of the finest-handling crossover-SUVs in this class. It’s not bad, with plenty of grip and light steering, but with such modest power outputs there’s nothing particularly racy about the Renault and there’s a fair amount of body lean to work around if you start hustling the vehicle down a twistier road. 

However, that’s not the Kadjar’s preferred zone of operation – and, indeed, the same could be said for many of the Renault SUV’s direct rivals. So what you will enjoy about the Kadjar is how good its ride comfort is, and how quietly it cruises down the road, and how easy it is to drive in town traffic despite its physical size. With superb visibility out in all directions and a great driving position easily attainable for a wide range of people, controlling the Kadjar is an absolute doddle in a wide variety of road-going scenarios. It’s also a particularly good motorway car, where its high-speed refinement comes to the fore. 

How Practical Is It?

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With one of the bigger boots in the class  (527-1478 litres) and plenty of space in the second row of seats, the Kadjar is a perfectly practical machine. The door pockets are scalloped out to take larger drinks bottles – in order to keep kids hydrated, and therefore happy, on longer journeys – and, with Renault having a long and distinguished reputation in the world of hyper-practical MPVs, the French firm has all the necessary know-how to make an SUV’s interior like the Kadjar’s work best for families. You can also expect good, deep cupholders in the central transmission tunnel and plenty of intelligent storage solutions, with perhaps the only minor black mark being that the rear seats only split-fold 60/40, rather in the more accommodating 40/20/40 configuration that is the norm in the class these days. But, in general, the way the Kadjar’s cabin is laid out means the vehicle is going to slot into your family lifestyle with very little fuss or aggro whatsoever. 

How Much Will It Cost Me?

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The Renault Kadjar can be yours from as little as £315-£355pcm with Vanarama leasing, while the list prices start at a little in excess of £26,000. For a base model Equilibre, items such as cruise control with a speed limiter, parking sensors all round with a reversing camera too, 17-inch alloys, 7-inch R Link 2 infotainment with navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual-zone climate control and a powerful audio system with 3D sound are all part of a lengthy standard kit list, which also features plenty of advanced driver assist safety systems (ADAS). Moving up to Techno adds luxuries such as 19-inch alloy wheels, full-LED headlights, Auto High Beam, synthetic leather upholstery and a few extra ADAS toys to the bill. 

Renault also has one of the better manufacturer warranties in the business, offering 5 years and 100,000 miles of cover on all its models, Kadjar included. And, despite the SUV only coming with a solitary petrol engine, it’s reasonably efficient and clean too, with the manual recording 43.5-44.8mpg with 143-146g/km of CO2 emissions, while the EDC auto switches those numbers to 44.1-44.8mpg and 142-145g/km. It should therefore be cheap to run and easy on the taxation front as well. 

Anything Else I Should Know?

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The name ‘Kadjar’ is formed from taking some French words and then adapting them slightly, before portmanteau-ing them. So the ‘Kad’ part is inspired by ‘quad’, as in it’s a ‘go-anywhere’ 4-wheeled vehicle (even if it’s no longer actually offered with 4WD), while the ‘jar’ bit comes from the French words ‘agile’ and ‘jaillir’. The latter of these means to ‘come from nowhere’, so it’s like a Gallic version of ‘boo!’.

What Alternatives Should I Look At?

Kia Sportage

The latest Sportage is very sharp to look at and has a magnificent interior, plus lots of hybrid options. 

Nissan Qashqai

Much-improved in its heavily electrified Mk3 format, with crisp styling and a high-tech cabin. 

Peugeot 3008

Has been around a while but the daring Peugeot 3008 is still one of the best family SUVs out there.

The Vanarama Verdict: 7/10

"The Renault Kadjar is an easy-going crossover-SUV that should seamlessly slot into your family’s lifestyle, thanks to its excellent refinement, spacious cabin and smooth driving manners."

3 Things To Remember About The Renault Kadjar:

  • Practical cabin

  • Comfortable ride

  • Simple-to-understand model range

For more articles, you can check out our car features and guides section. Or if you're looking for a brand new vehicle, we've got a huge range of cars to lease at unbeatable prices.

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