When Nissan paired the humble family hatch with a small 4×4 back in the early naughties, the Qashqai was born and with it came a whole new segment, the crossover. Since then it’s proved such a hit that many other manufacturers have followed suit, with varying degrees of success. So it only made sense that brand partner Renault shared the Qashqai platform to create its own mid-sized family crossover, and like the Nissan, it has a pretty unpronounceable name in the Kadjar. But does it do enough to compete with the ever-growing demand and competition?
On the face of it, the Kadjar is quite a stylish mid-sized car. It features a face that has a lot in common with its smaller crossover sibling, the Captur, and then working backwards it’s very much in the same camp as the Qashqai.
In the cabin
While the cabin is a nice place to be, the ergonomics are a little all over the place. For example, the buttons for the adaptive cruise control and speed limiter are below, while the controls for the cruise control are on the steering wheel, then we have the automatic stop-start and the park assist. Behind the steering wheel is the rather awkwardly placed controls for the radio, and hidden away under the central armrest is the heater controls for the seats. It’s all just a bit messy.
There are a few storage bins but it’s worth noting that the cup holders are pretty shallow and you can’t get a bottle into the door pockets.
The seats are comfortable and supportive and fully adjustable on all but entry-level model, and the steering wheel moves in and out as well as up and down. The cabin material does feel pretty durable albeit a little cheap in areas.
All models bar the entry-level version get a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is home to everything including sat nav, dab radio, mp3 player and Bluetooth connectivity.
You shouldn’t be grumbling for space either, up front the driver and passenger have more than enough head and legroom, but be warned, top spec models have a panoramic sunroof which will restrict headroom ever so slightly. It’s the same story in the back, three can sit side by side comfortably, although a raised floor will mean anyone sitting in the middle will have to share foot space.
The boot is one of the biggest in its class, marginally bigger than the Qashqai, and it does all the usual party pieces when it comes to split folding rear seats. They fold down 60:40 to extend the boot space from 472 litres to 1478 litres. It’s just a shame the rear seats don’t slide back and forth like they do in some rivals.
On the road
There isn’t what we’d consider a weak engine in the lineup, even the 1.2 litre petrol will cope with most of what’s asked of it. Our pick of the range is the 1.5-litre dCi, which may not set pulses alight, but its got plenty of low-range pull so you rarely have to thrash the engine. Drive it carefully and it’ll return a very respectably official claimed average fuel economy of 74.3 miles per gallon and emissions of 99 g/km of CO2. If you find yourself carrying lots of passengers then the more powerful 1.6-litre diesel might be a better fit, that’ll return an economy in the mid 60s and emissions of around 113-129 g/km of C02, depending which model you go for. This version is available with two or four-wheel drive.
We recently tested the Koleos, the Kadjars bigger brother and found that the ride was slightly choppier than the Nissan X-Trail of which it’s based. It’s the same story here, it’s not as intrusive as the Kia Sportage or Skoda Yeti, but you will feel bumps in the road more than you would in a Qashqai. Suffice to say, we’d definitely avoid versions with the larger alloy wheels.
It does handle nicely in most real-world conditions, the steering is well weighted and accurate, and body lean is nicely controlled, it doesn’t switch direction with the same gusto as a family hatch or even the Qashqai, but it’s better than some rivals.
Shopping around for a crossover has never been more complicated, with so many more brands vying for your custom. The Kadjar has had a good platform to start with, sharing much of the lessons learnt from Nissan and the Qashqai. There’s a lot to like about it, it’s certainly one of the more stylish offerings, its got a spacious cabin and it’s relatively cheap to run. The interior quality and usability are a bit lacking, especially alongside other rivals, and the ride is a bit firmer on versions with the larger alloys.
December 7, 2018