Renault Kadjar Review: Hands-on
Kadjar believe it?
The Nissan-Renault connection continues with the Qashqai-based Kadjar. The French brand's newest introduction into the Australian market sits between the Captur and Koleos, which we reviewed in late 2019.
With a starting price of $32,990, the Zen model you see in the pictures below represents the middle of the Kadjar line-up. It also presents an interesting proposition for consumers.
It is a design that we can tell straight away will be polarising. Some camps will like it, some will loathe it, but there is no denying it is distinctly Renault.
The Kadjar flaunts the C-shaped light signature from various other Renaults, as well as the daytime running lights.
A wide grill sits front and centre on the bumper with chrome accents around it.
It also boasts a surprisingly useful 200mm of ground clearance, which will prevent scuffing the front bumper on higher-than-normal gutters. It also makes the odd recreational trip possible.
What is it like inside?
Inside the cabin of the Kadjar, you can see that the French brand has looked to differentiate it from the Qashqai on which it shares its architecture.
While there are hard plastics employed throughout the cabin, Renault has rather tastefully added chrome accents around certain areas, giving the vehicle a distinctly European feel. Everything is laid out in a logical way, apart from the omission of a volume dial for the car's sound system.
There are more foibles too, as the 7.0 touchscreen infotainment unit continues to run the old R-Link system, which leaves a little to be desired in terms of graphics and interaction. You do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though, which are welcome inclusions.
A digital cluster sits behind the steering wheel, making it easy to access trip and multimedia information, among other things.
Quilted seats come as standard when you opt for the Kadjar Zen over the Life variant, which are accented by vegan leather. The seats are quite comfortable and easy to set up. Despite not being quilted with stitching, they do feel premium.
Overall, the interior is trimmed and laid out well but there are small elements that do come across a little cheap – the gear shifter for instance, which can be rattled side-to-side quite easily.
One of the biggest strengths that the Kadjar has going for it in the Australian market is how spacious the interior is. Not only does it feel like there is plenty of room in the front, but there is ample room in the back. I had a comfortable gap between my knees and the front seat when it was set in my driving position, and headroom was good too.
Sitting in the back, you also get directional air vents and two USB ports.
How does it drive?
Around town, the Kadjar has a lot of positive attributes. Steering is light, the engine is spirited and thanks to front, rear and side parking sensors (as well as a reversing camera), it is a cinch to park.
The Renault Kadjar engine
The 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces a healthy 117kW of power and 260Nm of torque. It is actually surprisingly zippy, whisking you away from the lights briskly enough. The block is manufactured and supplied by Mercedes-Benz and compliments the vehicle quite well.
Supporting the engine is a new seven-speed wet-dual-clutch automatic. The transmission plays its role of getting you up to speed adeptly. We didn't notice any indecision when cycling through the gears and found it to be decently smooth when sending power to the front wheels.
While we couldn't fault the vehicle around town, it is when you get a bit more speed behind you that things unravel. For example, the steering remains light and as you start to go through corners you will find that it feels slightly vague, which results in you backing off to give yourself confidence going through corners.
Is it practical?
There is plenty of space inside and with two ISOFIX mounting points on the outboard rear seats, you can comfortably and confidently put child seats back there.
You can store 408 litres of cargo in the boot; with the seats folded down this expands to 1,478 litres, meaning it has decent numbers for this category. For comparison:
- The Nissan Quashqai (running on the same platform) has 430 litres with the rear seats up, but does expand to a more roomy 1,598 litres with the seats down.
- The Honda HR-V has 437 litres available with the rear seats up and 1,462 litres with them folded down.
- The Hyundai Kona comes in at 361 litres with the rear seats up and 1,143 litres with them down.
You get four cup holders throughout the vehicle – two in the front, two in the fold-down middle seat armrest. There are also cubbyholes throughout, to keep the cabin clean and tidy, as well as being able to accept drink bottles.
Renault offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the Kadjar, with servicing intervals set at 30,000km or 12 months – depending on which comes first. When a scheduled service is carried out by a Renault dealer on-time, you will be eligible for another year of roadside assistance.
Scheduled servicing pricing
How safe is the Renault Kadjar?
If you opt for the Kadjar Zen model, you get additional safety inclusions as standard. On the Zen we tested there was:
- Advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) – Interurban
- Electronic stability control (ESC)
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
- Emergency brake assist (EBA)
- Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
- Hill start assist (HSA)
- Electric parking brake
- Blind spot warning
- Lane departure warning
If you decide to upgrade to the top-of-the-line Intens, you will also get automatic park assist.
The Renault Kadjar is a keen-priced, well-equipped and spacious compact SUV. As a city car, it ticks a lot of boxes like being easy to drive and park, but for me, there are a few question marks over steering at higher speeds and minor quibbles over the quality of some cabin components.
You may not have considered a Renault in your vehicle search, but you should. If you are in the market for a compact SUV, get down to a Renault dealer and take it for a spin. We'd be keen to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.