This month, let’s freeze-frame a moment. Early February. Drizzle. Post-Christmas glummery abounds as we stare down a calendar of school, work and trudgery. But I’m happy. New Order’s True Faith is on the radio (“I feel so extraordinary, something’s got a hold on me, I get this feeling I’m in motion, a sudden sense of liberty”) and you could hardly wish for a more uplifting image of escapism. Some cars could puncture this moment, but the Kadjar is music and machine in harmony. Why?
By rights, this should be no easy thing. I’m the taxi driver for another academic commute down to Exeter. But compared to the holiday rental sun-seeker hell of the summer, a trip down the M5 to coincide with the university timetable is a 100-mile buffet of drive-all-you-can pleasure. The lanes are caravan-free and, judging by the over-packed rear windows of the cars ahead, I’m just another default dad.
But the Kadjar makes a jolly travelling companion. And I think that’s got a lot to do with the small issue of 2,000rpm. It might be the kind of statistic to send a petrolhead to sleep, but this is the Kadjar’s sweet spot, its centre of operations. Cruise at the top permissible motorway speed and, with no need to reach down from sixth, this engine has enough flex to move ahead, away from those middle-lane ditherers, all the while observing a loyalty to that point in the rev cycle. Granted, the power of 114 horses doesn’t mean you’ll be overtaking with lust, but I’m happy to settle for the confidence and vigour I get here.
And that gravitational pull to 2,000rpm as the car’s comfort zone means a 200-mile return trip, where I hardly dithered, returns a 0.1mpg increase in the car’s running data. And I’ve tested more than enough SUVs to know that fuel consumption that rises over long, higher-speed, journeys is never a given. So the Kadjar’s 53.7mpg average for this month might suggest a certain monomaniac focus if you prefer to read updates on rear leg space, boot capacity and wiper-blade durability (they’re all fine, by the way), but I suspect the mpg data speaks to a broader existential issue we face as we motor into 2020.
SUV, you see, has become a dirty acronym. If you fancy anti-SUV merchandise, there’s a whole wardrobe out there, much of it bearing slogans I couldn’t possibly retype, although “SUVs suck”, “Stupid Unsafe Vehicles” and “SUV-negative” offer a flavour. In this context, I suspect this SUV is delivering real-world consumption that challenges easy stereotypes.
The RAC Foundation report for 2018 found the average UK diesel car consumption was 57.9mpg; prolonged driving of the car here places it certainly in the right zone for modern expectations – and the fact that is does so as an SUV, when so many rivals fall well short of such ambition, brings me back to that snapshot of optimism. The outline says SUV, but the results are ahead of the pack.
Date arrived 10th June 2019
Fuel economy 55.4-60.1mpg (WLTP combined) 53.7mpg (on test)
It’s not on stilts, but Kadjar’s elevated geometry makes it great for sightseeing.
Multi-layered technology can be tedious #Bringbackbuttons, please.