As the year flies by, itís now more than nine months since the Renault Kadjar arrived on the Diesel Car long-term test fleet. Simon Thompson, photographer extraordinaire, was the first custodian, and he racked up a huge mileage in a very short space of time. He loved it for its spaciousness, the beautiful red colour and even managed to take it green laning. But he struggled with the gearbox and the way that some of the pieces of equipment operated ñ like the radio when changing stations ñ frustrated him.
Iíve come to the Kadjar fresh, and Iíve found a few flaws, too, but itís not all been negative though, and the Kadjar certainly has a long list of qualities and strengths. Under the bonnet is a really excellent 1.5-litre diesel engine that powers the medium SUV along at a decent rate. Iíve had 65mpg from it on a run, and thatís fantastic as far as Iím concerned. Some might hesitate choosing the smaller capacity engine and lower power output, but on the evidence of the last few months, I can say with confidence that itís unlikely to disappoint.
Then thereís the space, thereís plenty of it and the handy adjustable boot floor was a big hit. The Kadjar carted around everything I could throw at it, from entire loads of old furniture to recycling being taken to the tip. Itís suited my family well, too, and has undertaken trips to the other side of the country without fuss, and with decent fuel economy figures that Iíve come to respect.
Thatís the word ñ respect. I respect the Kadjar for its qualities and what it can do, Iíve just never grown to love it. The automatic gearbox lets the excellent engine down by being indecisive and a bit sloppy when it comes to making quick calculations, and Iím sure it has also got something to do with why the Kadjar is so hit-and-miss when it comes to the hill start assist system when pulling away on any sort of incline. Once underway, it rarely missed a beat, but in trickier, tight and hilly terrain, like where I live, it can often be caught out.
The ride quality at least makes up for the lack of confidence from the gearbox, and long journeys are pleasurable. The suspension is really well set up and deals with irregularities in the road surface rather well. You certainly donít feel uncomfortable over bumps, though there is a tendency to get a little bouncy in some situations.
My biggest gripe is with the interior design and some materials. Sure, at first glance thereís some praiseworthy materials and everything feels like it is nicely screwed together, but delve a little deeper and youíll begin to notice that some of the surfaces arenít quite so plush and some of the positioning odd. Shallow cupholders result in spilt coffee, while the steering column and audio controls interfere with knee room, as well as feeling cheap and nasty. The cruise control system is switched on using a button between the seats, located by the cupholders, as well as having to utilise buttons on the steering wheel. Yes, they are small annoyances, but on a car that costs over £23,000 without any options, I expect better.
Iíve never really jelled with this car, and I wonder whether the fashion for trendy SUVs will really stand the test of time. Yes they are popular now, but is it just a passing fad. If we bought our car now, it would cost £24,425 in a standard colour and without any options. Thatís a lot of money, and for a similar cost, I could get myself a Skoda Superb SE 1.6 TDI that delivers even more space than the Kadjar can deliver. I know what route my family would go down given half a chance. And thatís the dilemma, does the family follow current trends, or opt for something a little more accomplished?
Date arrived 15th July 2016
Fuel Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 74.3/74.3/74.3mpg (on test) 60.3mpg
The 1.5-litre engine is spot on – exactly what we need in a car like this.
The gearbox lets the
superb engine down.