Renault has already sold 450,000 Kadjars globally
First launched in 2015, Renault has already sold 450,000 Kadjars globally and its family look linking it to the Megane hatchback and smaller Captur SUV is obvious. But is that enough to differentiate this second-generation variant from its many rivals who also promote the virtues of family-friendly lifestyles? Certainly the mid-size Kadjar’s organic, flowing lines contrast with the more upright and brash stance of some rivals.
Its primary focus on style and comfort has clearly resonated with customers and it’s a policy that continues with this updated model.
Tweaks to the exterior include changes to the car’s nose, lights and bumpers plus a wider colour palette.
Mechanically, the biggest changes are under the bonnet, with the new engine line-up – two turbo-petrol, two turbodiesel – focusing on improved performance and emissions.
The 1.3-litre petrol pair can be had with 140 or 160bhp and, frankly, the less-power car is more than good enough.
It’ll zip along on motorways with ease and also copes well with twisty country roads with a 0 to 60mph time of 9.6 seconds and 126mph top speed and 134g/km emissions.
Thankfully the manual gearshift is precise and slick, proving to be anything but a chore to use.
The auto option is equally competent, although the lack of steering wheel paddles to change gear won’t please everyone and the manual override is a little clunky. Left to its own devices it’s fine for the majority of the time.
Mated to the same 1.3-litre unit in 160bhp guise, the extra slug of power is welcome and the overall experience is equally quiet and capable, with an almost diesel-like ability to chug along at low speeds in a high gear.
The Kadjar’s primary focus is style and comfort
If you still want a diesel Kadjar it’s good to know that it’s also a capable choice.
A 1.5-litre unit is available with 115bhp and a 1.7 in 150bhp trim, with the former engine capable of 67.2mpg average fuel economy and the latter also powering the flagship all-wheel drive model.
And in this guise, with a fancy switchable drive mode feature, it’ll happily trundle over modest obstacles and shrug off the perils of muddy fields and rutted tracks. If you plan on towing anything, this is the one to have.
Both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes are available depending on the specific model.
A dedicated all-wheel drive variant sits atop the majority front-wheel drive range, with the former enabling the driver to switch between more frugal front-drive running, an auto mode or a “lock” mode to permanently engage all-wheel drive at low speeds for genuine off-roading tasks.
Renault has also engineered the Kadjar with seven-and-a-half inches of ground clearance which should do much to challenge its “soft-roader” tag.
On the road the Kadjar is clearly set up for comfort but pleasingly body roll is minimal. The ride comfort itself is good which is impressive considering Renault hasn’t resorted to any Citroen-style suspension trickery.
The car’s redesigned front seats make a valuable contribution though. Overall, the Kadjar is a pleasingly rounded package that’s devoid of any serious quirks.
Inside, the lightly remodelled cabin boasts an updated infotainment touchscreen, higher quality materials and a revised choice of trim.
The basic layout has remained familiar but there’s a noticeable uplift in quality and subtle design changes have improved cabin ergonomics.
Storage space remains good and high-spec models boast twin USB sockets fore and aft and the refreshed infotainment screen is a welcome improvement.
Crucially, cabin space is more than ample; there’s no complaint when up front and there’s a decent spread of leg and head room in the rear even for adults.
On the road the Kadjar is ‘clearly set up for comfort’
Flip the rear seats forward and the almost flat-load bay and low tailgate lip makes loading straightforward. With them up, day-to-day load capacity is a useful 527 litres.
The Kadjar’s a great family wagon that, in the right specification, would happily tow a caravan or trailer without complaint.
While not offering stand-out performance in any one particular area, cumulatively all the various upgrades have resulted in a driving and ownership experience that’s slick, thoughtful and rewarding.
Trying to stand out in a market groaning under the weight of new models is hard, yet the Kadjar rises to the top thanks to its easy-on-the-eye looks, keen pricing and relaxed driving experience. Full marks to Renault for staying true to what many owners in the real world actually want from their cars.
Price range: £20,595- £29,995
Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 1.3, 1.3-litre 160bhp; Turbo-diesel – 1.5, 1.7-litre
Power: 0 to 60mph in 9.9 seconds, 130mph top speed (1.3-litre 160bhp)
Average fuel economy: 67.2mpg (1.5TD) CO2 emissions range: 111-134g/km
Rivals: Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan