Renault Kadjar SUV review
“The Renault Kadjar is a good family SUV, thanks to its attractive design, practical interior and affordable running costs”
- Plenty of space
- Stylish design
- Cheap to run
- So-so reliability
- Pricey at the top of the range
- Entry-level model poorly equipped
The Renault Kadjar is a family-size SUV that sits between the award-winning Renault Captur and the bigger Renault Koleos. Originally a late entrant to the sector, it certainly made an impression when it arrived, quickly establishing itself as something of an attention-grabber. It was updated for 2019 to keep it competitive in the ever-growing SUV segment.
Competition between medium-size SUVs is fiercer than ever before. The field now includes the SEAT Ateca, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq, as well as other familiar names like the Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage. Meanwhile the Nissan Qashqai that started it all is still a popular choice, and one which shares much of its mechanicals with the Kadjar thanks to Renault and Nissan’s corporate links.
While the Qashqai relies on edgy aggression to get noticed, the Kadjar looks rather more approachable, with softer lines that embody Renault's latest design language. The headlamps are sleek and incorporate LED daytime running lights, while chrome is used subtly to add interest. Outside, there's a sense of substance and adventure thanks to chunky alloy wheels and curvaceous haunches, but the interior underwhelms on first glance due to its swathes of uninspiring black plastic. However, you soon come to appreciate its stylish touches, including a hi-tech digital dashboard.
Although there's no seven-seat option, families are likely to find the Kadjar a practical car. There's space for three to sit in the rear without clashing shoulders and a useful array of cubbyholes for items needed en route. And what won't fit inside will certainly go in the boot – at 472 litres, it's larger than that of the Qashqai and it'll expand to 1,478 litres if you fold the seats down.
The Kadjar’s engine line-up is also shared with the Qashqai, so fuel economy is respectable. As of October 2020, the Kadjar is now only available with a 1.3-litre, 138bhp petrol engine. It manages up to 44.1mpg and 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds. A slightly more powerful TCe 160 brought 158bhp and a half-second 0-62mph reduction with identical economy figures. You can have the 138bhp engine with a six-speed manual gearbox or, optionally, a seven-speed automatic, which posts very similar fuel economy and performance figures.
There were two diesel engines, both of which came with AdBlue filters to reduce emissions. The options were a 113bhp 1.5-litre that boasted up to 56.5mpg, or a 148bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine. Losing the 1.7-litre diesel means the Kadjar is no longer available with four-wheel drive but most buyers picked a front-wheel-drive model anyway.
While entry-level Renault trims can sometimes be rather spartan, the whole Kadjar range is relatively well equipped, with DAB radio, LED daytime running lights, air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a stereo compatible with MP3 and USB storage. Our pick of the range is the Iconic, which is now the entry-level trim after Play was discontinued. It introduces sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, lane departure warning, a rear parking camera and 19-inch alloy wheels. S Edition adds all-round LED lights, a fixed panoramic sunroof and USB sockets in the rear. The range-topping GT Line is fairly luxurious with its heated leather seats and adds clever features such as blind-spot monitoring, autonomous parking and emergency braking – but it's a little pricey.
Our biggest reservation is the Kadjar's undistinguished reliability record. It placed 55th overall out of 100 cars in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. While many were pleased by its fuel consumption and running costs, there were doubts over build quality, with 15.7% of owners reporting at least one fault in the first year of ownership. Of less concern are the Kadjar's safety credentials, which include a five-star rating from independent crash-test experts Euro NCAP.