Family sport utility
The Kadjar, Renault’s new mid-range proposal in the Sport Utility segment, borrows a number of modern solutions from its Japanese cousin, Nissan’s Qashqai.
Similarly to what happened with station wagons back in the 80s (and to a smaller extent with minivans at the end of the millennium), today, scores of motorists choose a sport utility vehicle both for its image and load capacity, not to mention its technological contents which, unfortunately, do not always go hand-in-hand with four-wheel drive technology, and in which, to a limited extent, tires represent the only difference between on-road and off-road mobility.
MORE THAN A RENAULT
Following the Koleos, now a bit outdated, Renault added to its SUV catalogue the Kadjar, occupying the market segment just above the little Captur. Not to be considered a downsizing of the previous model, but rather a different interpretation of the CMF modular platform (Common Module Family), used in other cars of the group, such as the Espace minivan or its Japanese cousins Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai, from where large parts of the mechanical layout, including front or 4-wheel drive systems (combined here with the most powerful engines) are drawn.
Its 4.45 metres length place the Kadjar in an intermediate position within the C segment, with enough room for five passengers and 527 litres of cargo space, expandable to 1,478 litres when the rear seats are fully reclined, but are reduced to 472 with a standard spare wheel in place of the now ubiquitous repair kit. Not a die-hard off-road vehicle, that’s for sure; yet its multi-terrain attitude is underlined by characteristic elements, such as the lower running boards, the side protections, an aerodynamic and completely flat under-body as well as a slender design emphasized by the 20 cm ground clearance, with favourable wheel angles, guaranteed by very low overhangs, with an approach angle of 18 ° and a departure angle of 28°, just enough to underline its keenness on tackling a wide variety of terrains.
Of course, 4WD transmission should not be considered a must here, so much so that the 4x4 versions are limited to the 130 hp dCi 1.6 cc engine. Setting aside any 4X4 ambitions, all versions are characterized by a coupé-like design, in line with other models found in the French car maker’s portfolio, highlighted by stylish LED headlights, maximum height of just 1.60 m, giving it a sufficiently sporty appearance, and a wide range of futuristic looking alloy wheels ranging from a 17 to a rather generous 19 inch size.
Get on board and find anything you would expect. And even more. Sophisticated R-Link 2 infotainment system with a 7" touch-screen from which it is possible to manage all on board functions, from navigation to connectivity, with a riot of car management applications ready to be downloaded (free or for a fee); rear view camera and intelligent parking assist systems, will facilitate parking manoeuvres even without the driver's direct intervention.
The TFT screen, displays four configurations of the digital speedometer and a rev counter, in different graphics and size as well as five possible background colours. In the end, how could we fail to mention all those now essential drive assist devices such as adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assist, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and so on. More than enough to guarantee safe and comfortable journeys.
MORE DIESEL THAN PETROL
Despite its 1,300 kg (1,500 kg on 4x4 Diesel versions), the Kadjar doesn’t feel particularly bulky, and the engines adequately meet the power requirement to move, even quickly, the vehicle’s considerable mass.
The choice as far as petrol driven engines is limited to just two units, the Energy TDe 130 and TCe 165, both four-cylinder twin-valve engines, a 130hp 1.2-liter turbocharged the first and a 163hp 1.6 litres the second, which happens to be the most powerful engine available, with only a six-speed manual transmission and front wheel drive. Maximum speeds are in the order of 190 and 205 km/h respectively with acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 10.1 seconds for the first and 9.2 for the second, guaranteeing high performance with low fuel consumption, 17.2 and 16.1 km/litre on average depending on the engine.
Two are the diesel options as well. The entry level Energy dCi 110, followed by the top of the range Energy dCi 130. As far as the dCi 110, two transmissions are available, a normal manual transmission and the EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission, particularly useful in reducing harmful emissions (just 99 g / km of CO2), very useful in the city where gear changes are rather frequent. In this case the 110 HP available and the over 26 kgm torque are sufficient to push the Kadjar to a top speed of 181 km/h, with acceleration from 0-100 in 11.7 seconds, and the lowest average fuel consumption in the range, declared to be in the region of 26.3 km/litre according to NEDC specs (New European Driving Cycle). The second engine, capable with its 130 hp and just under 33 kgm of torque immediately available at 1750 rpm to reach a top speed of 190 km/h, with a declared acceleration from 0 to100 km/h in 9.9 seconds (besides boasting the highest towing capacity, fixed at a maximum of 750 kg for un-braked trailers), can additionally rely on an All-Mode 4x4 drive, the same found also on all Nissan SUVs, which is both simple and intuitive, manageable through a selector on the central tunnel, making it possible to chose, at the touch of a finger a 2WD setup in normal conditions, or the Auto 4WD option as soon as the car is called upon to tackle a dirt road or face a snow-clad mountain pass, or selecting Lock to set the power distribution equally between the two axles up to 50 km/h, if a muddy patch is in the way.
Although not a flagship, the electronic management systems do not neglect even the slightest detail. Drive assistance package includes sophisticated functions such as uphill start assist, traction and stability control as well as emergency braking.
Suspensions are rather traditional with independent struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. From here the kinematic chain ends at the wheels, with OEM tires designed for use on normal roads - in case of an unlikely prevalent off-road use they would have to be replaced with off-road tires – with a rather extensive range, according to the versions, including sizes going from the versatile 215/65 R16 (on steel rims) to the ultra-low profile 225/45 R19, designed to enhance the dynamic qualities of the French SUV.