Final straits often come far too soon, but with winter’s back broken, I anticipated a Kadjar crescendo full of optimism. To mark the moment, I set off on a spring morning for a foreign country (Wales), heading vaguely towards the road network they call the Evo Triangle, where professional road testers, just one point from being sectioned for the good of society, spend their working days.
It’s a beautiful backdrop, I told my long-time photographer colleague Matthew Bigwood, who’d agreed to embellish this report with some pictorial magic. Now my favourite motorway, if it’s okay to get excited about motorways, happens to be the M48, which was the M4 from Chepstow to Cardiff, but was demoted by the arrival of the Severn Bridge version two. Since most traffic uses the new bridge, this is as good a place as any to have a blowout.
Not that I planned one. The Kadjar knew about it well before I did. Puncture! flashed up on a red screen, slap bang in the middle of the binnacle. I limped to the shelter of a bridge and we proceeded to the other side of the barrier in an orderly fashion. As the car rocked from the brutal passage of pantechnicons, I confess I decided it wiser to ask those fine guardians of safety at the AA to come and help. They agreed it was too dangerous to repair there, so we soon found ourselves in a much larger cabin, the Kadjar strapped down behind us.
To cut a miserable story short, we didn’t need the get-you-home, as a mobile local repair technician fixed the issue at Magor Gwasanaethau. Happy days then – except it was raining so much by then that the plans for the mountains were scuppered, hence these final shots were done locally the next day. Not that we were as blue as the Kadjar: perhaps because this model comes with a panoramic glass sunroof. You can always retract the blind to bathe in sunlight, or cloudlight, as we might start calling it.
The final miles have reinforced my impressions of what’s best about this family factotum. The Kadjar isn’t cavernous, but it will cope with a week away for a family of four. Add camping to that equation and you’re going to need a roofbox. Since piloting cars is now more about interfacing with technology than going sideways on the Evo Triangle, I score Renault’s effort here a sound eight out of ten. Smartphone connectivity is quick and seamless; activating the radio can be slow and reverse camera imagery can sometimes glitch, which could be bad news for lazy cats. Audio is big and bouncy though, which brings us to the subject of ride and handling.
The best part of 10,000 miles helming this SUV carry no footnotes of nausea-inducing motion. If anything, the urban ride could be smoothed a little, but I like the Kadjar’s honest steering feedback; it’s tuned to tell you about every imperfection in the camber – without shouting about it. And if you did go in for triangulation, this is no idle pudding, provided you work those gears and have hyperactive ankles. My own eye has been more on the needle for fuel than revs. I’ve lengthily extolled this huge uptick for the Kadjar – if you’re getting less than 50mpg overall, either reset the handbrake or your personality.
Ultimately, the killer question has to be whether the Kadjar earns the headline price. Renault sent us the penultimate specification version, Play, Iconic, S Edition and GT Line being the ascending sequence. Opting for this 114bhp engine, you can therefore drive away from just over £23,000 to just shy of £30k. So, with a price tag now of £26,595 (excluding metallic paint), the version enjoyed here has been far more business class than other options. Against rivals, I suspected this would be a convincing deal for the money. Ten months down the road, I know it is.
Date arrived 10th June 2019
Fuel economy 55.4-60.1mpg (WLTP combined) 53.1mpg (on test)
Money. It’s been the cheapest long-termer to run since I don’t know when.
Automatic headlight dipping is great, but full-beam brightness lacks strength of many rivals.