It beckons from the car park as your favourite armchair might after a hard day in the office. If voluptuous SUV styling is your bag (and judging by the trends, you don’t need to be shy), this is your mothership. A full-bodied effort from the French maker (certainly even more so after a return to the wardrobe department for a half-time froofing up), the latest Kadjar promises more technology, more luxury and, from the look of it, more Renault.
Back in 2015, when I attended the original UK debut, I admit I wasn’t totally engaged, being distracted by concocting limericks that, given the heft of this beast, rhymed ‘Kadjar’ (successfully or not) with ‘badger’. Kadjar 1.0 must have been good though, as there are no lingering memories of anything as bad as my poetry.
Launches, however, as all consumer hacks will agree, only take you so far down the road to true insight. So it’s a nice second chance, four years on, to get more firmly to grips with Renault’s resequencing of its Qashqai cousin. Kadjar, incidentally, can be dissected into kad as a corruption of quad, and jar, as an echo of the French verb jaillir, which literally means to shoot. Like Koleos, it’s a name to chew over. And next to that car, it’s a squidge less voluminous – 183mm shorter, 5mm narrower and 65mm less lofty.
Let’s keep the tape measure aside for a while though. First, we have to address the not-so-small matter of the key fob, a piece of Gallic chicness which, I suspect, like the Allegro’s quartic steering wheel or Chrysler’s 1956 in-dash record player, may well end up in motoring’s hall of fame under answers to questions nobody asked. It’s a prehensile treat, lodging in the palm like something expensive from the Apple store. But that’s where my enthusiasm falters. A lozenge is cool, sure, but it has no hook, so to the key rack in my hall it’s a fish meets bicycle thing. Nor does it want any relationship with my Tesco club card and any other of those mini cards you usually attach. Nope, unless you buy a pouch on eBay, it’s a loner. So where do I keep it? I’ll tell you where: some pocket, some kitchen corner… some annoying place where I can’t find it.
When you get in and out, the speakers surround you with a soft whooshing electro-vocal that reminds me of the Danone yoghurt jingle. It’s actually pleasant and far more calming than the boom-boom heartbeat you can specify in an Audi. I haven’t managed to access more of this music yet, but if I want to listen to ambient trance at the end of a long journey (the first of which, by the way, have gone very nicely), I could always flip the rear seats forward and impersonate a starfish in the extended load area. It’s huge, it’s easy to turn into a makeshift bed big enough for two, it has a sensible, flat loading aspect (already tested with a full-size dishwasher) and – fantastic news for those of us who know tidy-up spells hidey-up – features a clutter-consuming cavity beneath the first two floor panels.
Blimey, I’ve run out of space, with so much still to say. So far though, the crucial point is this: Kadjar is a cuddly beast of an SUV that feels bigger, in a reassuring and cosseting sense, than its true dimensions suggest. The badger analogies can wait.
Date arrived 10th June 2019
Fuel economy 55.4-60.1mpg (WLTP combined) 47.3mpg (on test)
Stashing items from prying eyes is easy thanks to this generous hidden storage area.
Fobbed off takes on a new meaning when it comes to this. Some sort of pouch should make it more practical?