The Renault Kadjar SUV has only recently arrived in Australia but the company recently announced it would be replaced by the South Korean-built Arkan in the middle of next year.
That’s a shame, because there’s not much wrong with the Kadjar.
Renault has cut the price of the Kadjar across the range, and the top-of-the-tree Intens model now costs $36,990 drive-away, a discount of more than $4000. If you want a colour other than white, that will cost $750. The Intens is well equipped for the price. There are leather, heated front seats, built-in satnav, sunroof and an above average Bose audio unit. The Kadjar will also park itself semiautomatically, while Apple CarPlay and Android auto are standard. Ambient lighting, a digital dash display and electric park brake let you know you’re in the most expensive model. The centre touch screen is on the small side and not the simplest to navigate, while the voice-activated controls will quickly drive you mad. It’s best to use the wheel-mounted buttons for the audio and phone. Servicing for five years is expensive at $2385 but the intervals are longer at 30,000km so if you do a lot of driving it could pay off. You get up to five years’ roadside if you service through the dealer.
The heavily-bolstered leather seats in the Intens are comfortable and supportive, while the heating function is great for winter mornings or getting some heat on a sore back when driving longer distances. The Kadjar has more room inside than most of its rivals and the rear seats fold at the touch of a button, which is handy if you’re juggling kids and groceries. The Kadjar does a pretty good job of soaking up lumps and bumps, although the low-profile 19-inch tyres on the Intens can jiggle you a little bit on pockmarked surfaces. Unlike some rivals, the back seat passengers aren’t forgotten. They get separate air vents, a centre armrest with cupholders, two USB outlets and a 12-volt for charging devices. For the spatially challenged, the auto parking feature can reduce stress in city traffic.
The Kadjar hasn’t yet been rated by our independent crash test authority ANCAP, but it has six airbags and received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP back in 2015, despite a marginal rating for front-seat whiplash protection and rear passenger chest protection. It has auto emergency braking, blind-spot detection and lane keeping assistance, but there’s no rear cross-traffic alert or active cruise control, which puts it behind key competitors.
ON THE ROAD
For a company that makes razor-sharp hot hatches, Renault’s approach to its standard models is perplexing. They seem to be built for comfort rather than speed. The steering feels a little lazy and disconnected, while it will lean and pitch when cornering and stopping. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for a family SUV – and the ride is comfy as a result – but you’d think some sportiness could flow down from crackerjack cars such as the Megane RS. The Kadjar’s cabin is quiet and refined at highway speeds and predictable through the corners. The turbo engine is a highlight. Relatively small at 1.3 litres, it punches above its weight, providing ample acceleration off the mark and good performance when overtaking at highway speeds. The seven-speed dual-clutch auto can be a little jerky and hesitant in stop-start traffic, but keeps the engine in its sweet spot when cruising. Claimed fuel consumption is impressive at 6.3L/100km.
The Kadjar makes a strong case for consideration at the current discounted price.
Kia Seltos Sport Plus, from $37,490 drive-away.
Spacious for the class with a more powerful turbo four-cylinder and more comprehensive safety equipment. Misses out on full leather.
Mazda CX-30 G20 Touring, from $35,834 drive-away.
Cheaper, with better active safety, but smaller dimensions and less powerful engine. Also gets cloth trim.
Nissan Qashqai N-Sport, from $36,290 drive-away.
Slightly cheaper and well equipped for the price, with more driver aids, but lacks the grunt and poise of rivals.
RENAULT KADJAR VITALS
Price: About $36,990 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: Five years, unl’td km, $2385 over five years
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo petrol, 117kW/260Nm
Safety: Not rated, six airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning
L uggage: 408L