Now, normally I wouldnít really be interested in this kind of car. Family-orientated soft-UVs are normally a massive turn-off for me, being a young(ish) single man, preferring something altogether sportier. So, perhaps you can forgive me a little for being underwhelmed with the prospect of the long-term Renault Kadjar turning up. The editor thought it would be a perfect test for the Kadjar, if it could win over someone that was less than enthusiastic about the idea of running it.
Donít be too hard on me, I havenít yet reached the stage in my life where a Kadjar is necessary, and my love of a good hatchback or saloon has always led me to doubt the need for such a car. Hey, thatís fashion though, I change my haircut to go with the times, so maybe I can change my opinions too. Itís good looking for a start, and that always helps. The view from the cockpit makes you feel like youíre driving something a bit saucier, because the bonnet is shapely and that instantly makes you smile a bit. These styling details are clever, because in reality, youíre driving what is essentially a big, shiny red box.
After the first few days of pettiness, where I tried to find every flaw possible so that I couldnít possibly like the Kadjar, I actually found that I started enjoying driving it. Holy cow! But the driving position isnít ideal for a guy that is six feet two, as my knees have been hitting the lower dashboard, and I perhaps need to continue to fine tune the driving position. Other highs are the smooth and adequately powered engine, the quick-shifting gearbox, and the ride that is nicely cushioned and soaks up all of the potholes and ruts of the decaying rural Devon road network.
Anyone that knows me will tell you that I have a strong dislike of touchscreen infotainment systems. I canít contain my annoyance at pressing the wrong button or key, simply because Iíve driven over a small bump. I donít consider them practical at all in a car, however, the Renaultís system is actually rather good. The menus have been made to be quite simple, meaning that navigating around it is easier than on rival firmís efforts, and as a result Iím rather less grumpy when driving my Kadjar.
The other surprise package is the steering. It isnít exactly brimming over with feel, but it isnít particularly lacking either, and the well-judged weighting reminds me of a large premium saloon, rather than an SUV. It feels substantial and a reminder of what little touches like this can do for the overall feel of a car.
But most importantly, the Kadjarís arrival this month has opened my mind to what a good companion this kind of vehicle can be. Our family has had a tough few weeks after the loss of a loved one, and the Renault has been pressed into action ferrying my relatives over longer distances, hauling lots of bags and suitcases, and it quite simply hasnít missed a beat. It has been relied upon, leaned on, and has provided its own level of support in a silent, efficient kind of way. Life isnít always easy, and sometimes, a little support ñ even from our oily, inanimate friends ñ can prove a huge amount of help.
Date arrived: 15th July 2016
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg (combined) 51.4mpg (on test)
The touchscreen infotainment system is really good.
There isn’t enough knee room for really tall drivers like me.