The Kadjar is Renault’s stylish but late entrant into the trendy crossover vehicle parade. Launched in 2015, the Renault Kadjar follows closely in the footsteps of its bigger and smaller older siblings, Renault Koleos and Renault Captur.
Kadjar is built on a Nissan Qashqai Common Module Family platform, thanks to the Renault – Nissan cooperation. Kadjar is Renault’s firm proposition for an attractive family crossover car. However, is it good enough to capture the market of other super fuel saving crossovers already in Kampala, such as, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage or BMW X3? Let us find out.
Design and styling body cues
Renault draws inspiration for Kadjar’s exotic stylish name, agility and bold go-anywhere attributes from an adventurous Persian royalty, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, who bought two Renault cars in the late 19th century. Renault Kadjar’s bold adventurous intentions are stated by its ‘biggish’ compact but fluid body.
There is something ‘gaulishly’ bold and sporty about Kadjar’s front bumper, with two level grilles and eagle sharp fog lights. The big statement Renault badge is straddled by the trapezoid LED daytime running head lights and flowing into the well-crafted fluid body and chic rear end.
Renault goes to great lengths to present the Kadjar, not as a clone of the seasoned Nissan Qashqai, but, as a credible practical alternative with multiple trim levels, bigger seating and loading space. Kadjar comes with four trim levels. Expression is the entry level which comes standard with air conditioning, cruise control and 16’’ alloys. The mid-level specs are Dynamique and Dynamique S which are almost as generously kitted as the top of range model, Signature.
These three top Kadjar trims come with a touch screen infotainment system, alloy wheels, a Bose stereo and a higher price tag. The local Renault dealer, Victoria Motors, offers two Trims E2 and E3. E2 comes with a 6 speed manual transmission with turbo diesel engine and features of Expression. E3 comes with a 7 speed automatic gearbox, 7’’ touch screen infotainment, lane change assist, parking assist, voice control with keyless entry and start.
Comfort, safety and practicality
When you step inside the Kadjar, the driver and front passenger are treated to a spacious but practical dashboard which lacks the suave airs of Nissan Qashqai’s swan like curves. However, Kadjar’s easy-to-find knobs, switches and accessory controls are neatly and meticulously arranged. You will notice the utilitarian conservative ‘Renaultism’ in some of the interior design features; the positioning of the cruise control switches at the centre of the lower fascia sharing with the electronic parking brake switch, the easy to clean ‘plasticky’ interior paneling and door trims, almost centre positioned air vents or multiple rotary knob switches on the steering stalks.
Fortunately, you will quickly be distracted by the modern electronic driver aids and convenience toys.
This five-seater offers comfortable wide fabric seats with ample leg and head room. The Kadjer safety rating is good and boasts a three point inertia reel seat belt design with electronic pre-tensioning to prevent whiplash.
This works well with the air bags supplementary restraint system to secure all the passengers in an unlikely event. The load space is cavernous with 472 litres of space, 42 litres more than the Qashqai.
Kadjar is a good blend of sporty looks, good quality materials, comfort and good practicality suitable for a Ugandan family transport needs.
1.2:The only petrol option, a sprightly 1.2 litre TCe turbo 4 cylinder is mated well with a 6 speed manual gearbox.
1.6: The 1.6 litre diesel engine gives a better balance between fuel economy (Highway: 22.2KM/L) and engine power (130 bhp).
155m :Price of Kadjar E3 trim with auto transmission at the local Renault dealer. Kadjar E3 with manual transmission costsShs151. The E2 costs Shs143.8 million
Performance and handling
Renault Kadjer comes with three engines. The only petrol option, a sprightly 1.2 litre TCe turbo 4 cylinder is mated well with a 6 speed manual gearbox. This 130 brake horse power (bhp) will accelerate from 0-100 KPH in 10.1 seconds. This petrol engine has good low end power, an impressive but lowest fuel economy result (Highway: 23.2 KM/Litre) and emissions score with 126gm/KM. Whereas the 1.2L TCe is definitely meant for more than tiptoeing around Kampala city, it will feel a little overworked and be less fuel efficient when you attempt to overtake or drive fast to Masaka or Mbarara at high speeds.
The 1.6 litre diesel engine gives a better balance between fuel economy (Highway: 22.2KM/L) and engine power (130 bhp). This stands out when compared to the weakest 1.5 litre dCi diesel which delivers a paltry 109 bhp but the best fuel economy result (Highway: 26.3 KM/L). I would go for the 1.6 litre diesel overall as it promises good torque, a bigger punch and exciting drive on the highway while maintaining excellent fuel economy.
You can only get the 6 speed automatic transmission with Dynamique and Signature trims or locally Victoria Motor’s E3 trim. However, the 1.6 litre dCi works well with All Wheel Drive as it will send 50 per cent of the power to rear wheels for additional power. You can go for the 4WD option which allows for electronic shift on the go, lock the differential for an equal 50:50 split of power. This is handy when driving in the rain or over a slippery murram stretch.
However, do not be tempted to go for serious 4WD off-roading experiences with the Kadjar. Like the other crossover cars it will be limited by its size and ground clearance. Highway and light duty off-road handling is moderate with reasonable road holding and decent steering response. Kadjer may not be engaging enough if you are a gear head, but, it is perfect for a young family road trip.
Maintenance and affordability
The Kadjar can only be maintained at the Renault appointed dealer in Uganda where you will get genuine service and repair parts. The modern common rail diesel engines are sensitive to dirty or adulterated diesel, while both petrol and diesel engines require dedicated maintenance with good quality lubricants and fuels.
When you buy a new Kadjar, you get a two-year free oil and filter service in addition to a three-year or 100,000kms warranty. Routine service after two years will cost you Shs400,000. The E2 Kadjar costs $40,000 (Shs143.8m). The E3 trim, with manual transmission, costs $42,000 (Shs151m) while E3 with auto costs $43,000 (Shs154.6m).