Final report - Renault Kadjar long-term test
11 April 2017
Author: David Motton
|P11D price £24,790 |
|As tested £27,010|
|Official consumption 72.4mpg|
|Our average consumption 50.6mpg|
|Mileage 6,878 |
Nissan set the template for everyone else to follow with the Qashqai, and in terms of sales it's still the crossover to beat. As Nissan's partner brand, Renault has borrowed heavily from the Qashqai with the Kadjar. That's a double-edged sword for Renault's crossover.
If you're going to share underpinnings, engines and other components with a competitor you might as well borrow from the market leader. On the other hand, it means the Kadjar has to overcome the impression that it's simply a Qashqai in different clothes.
After a year living with a Kadjar dCi 110 Signature Nav, the similarities to the Qashqai are clear. But there are many points of difference, too.
The different styling is easy to spot. Although the two cars share the same proportions, I prefer the Renault's curvy looks, especially in the Flame Red metallic paint of our test car. But there are worthwhile practical differences, too.
The Kadjar's boot space is better, for one thing. Over the past 12 months, it has carried wardrobes, garden rubbish and plenty more. There's 472 litres of space with the back seats upright, a worthwhile 42-litre improvement over the Qashqai. Folding the seats down is quick and easy, thanks to levers either side of the tailgate.
That leaves an almost flat floor and enough space for all the furniture and hedge-trimmings I ever needed to lug around. It's worth noting that some recent rivals like the Peugeot 3008 (591 litres) and Seat Ateca (510 litres) have more room, but I've never felt short-changed by the Kadjar's luggage capacity.
The Renault is roomy enough inside the cabin, too. An Ateca has more rear legroom, but my children had enough space to travel in comfort, even sat behind their six-foot three-inch dad. Up front, the dashboard design is clear and uncluttered, but there are a few ergonomic quirks to get used to. Why, for instance, is the cruise control switch by the electronic parking brake?
I also found the R-Link 2 infotainment system took some getting used to, with lots of screen pressing to get from one menu to another. Some more short-cut buttons would speed things up no end. I find the latest-generation R-Link 2 in the Megane easier to use, with its larger portrait-oriented screen.
As well as the sat-nav, stereo and other systems you'd expect to find in an infotainment system, the R-Link 2 has a whole section devoted to economy, emissions, and rating the driver's contribution to fuel efficiency. Some long motorway runs towards the end of the car's time on the fleet saw my eco-driving score climb to 75 out of 100.
My gentle right foot failed to coax anything like the official combined economy figure out of the Kadjar, however. Few drivers expect to match the official combined figure in daily driving, but our 50.6mpg average is a long way from the official 72.4mpg. Each tank returned just over or just under 50mpg, with the most frugal tankfuls being on motorway journeys.
Motorways suit the Kadjar well. The ride smooths out at speed, and the 1.5-litre diesel engine is quiet. Less road noise over coarse surfaces would be welcome, but otherwise the Renault is well-suited to long journeys.
Around town the Renault ride can be a bit choppy - more so on cars like mine with 19-inch alloys than lower-spec models with smaller wheels. Head out on country roads and the steering feels a bit numb, but the Kadjar handles tidily.
I've enjoyed my year with the car. The keen price and low emissions make it a cost-effective business choice. And whatever mechanical parts it might share, it's more than just a Qashqai clone.