I have to admit to an ocean-going level of numptiness this month. I didn’t do what my mother-in-law did with her diesel – brim it with petrol and then pay £250 to have it drained straight back out. No, mine was more of a paperwork error. Spotting a news mention in DieselCar and EcoCar, I somewhere lodged in my brain that Renault was announcing model specification and engine changes for the Kadjar. That’s odd, I thought: this one only landed last Christmas.
The blind spot in my research continued. Renault, I discovered with increasing levels of bewilderment, looked set to replace the engine of the car I am currently testing with a more powerful 1.7-litre alternative. For reasons we can explore below, that didn’t seem entirely crazy, but the announcement simply didn’t add up… until I realised, a massive advert for Specsavers that I am, the story is all about the larger Koleos SUV. Not, er, the Kadjar.
Now I know policemen are ridiculously young and the average age of the road test team is making me look slightly more mature, but I do level some of the blame at Renault themselves. Whoever dreamed up these clunky K words anyway? What further semantic challenges await to confuse myopic speedreaders chasing ever tighter deadlines?
Anyhow, hooray for the Kadjar dCi 115 and may its 114bhp heart go on beating without management interference for a good while yet. As regular readers will know, it’s proving to be a good long-legged interloper that, at just over £60 for a tank, does deliver truly impressive economy. Whether all those miles set my face into the kind of smug smile you see from middle-aged dads in crossover adverts is, however, another question entirely.
I like the gearbox, you see, I like the engine note and the three horsemen of noise, vibration and harshness, all said, are no story here at all. But my Kadjar lacks oomph. You’ll rarely witness me desiring this oomph or writing about it; we live in a new era where yearning for speed and power is up there with flytipping nuclear waste, but that underlying faiblesse from the throttle, that feeling that it is calibrated not to squander the tiniest squirt, makes the 114bhp engine a little ghostly at low speed. Hence my previous mention of the ease with which you can stall, along with a mid-range intolerance of hills (unless you drop down for more power). If you buy diesel because you love all that easy torque, you will, I now see, not be blown away by this model’s reticence.
All of which has me eyeing, like a kid outside a closed cake shop, the 148bhp Kadjar dCi 150. I don’t fixate that the latter is 1.7 seconds faster to 62mph and I note it emits more CO2 while looking likely to axe about 4mpg from your housekeeping, but with that extra 34bhp on board, I suspect it offers a resting pulse that is just that tad more capable. Or more focused. And I could definitely do with some of that.
Date arrived 10th June 2019
Fuel economy 55.4-60.1mpg (WLTP combined) 53.5mpg (on test)
My wife likes the central console grab handle. Does that say something about my driving?
Engine power at low speed can feel like it’s gone AWOL.