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1 roadtest, 4 opinions: We drive Renault's flagship Kadjar SUV

2016-09-21 08:29

RED MACHINE: The Wheels24 team shares their views on the Renault Kadjar 1.2 TCe. Image: Tania Pehl

Sergio Davids, Janine van der Post, Sean Parker & Charlen Raymond

Cape Town - The Renault Kadjar is one of the most stylish SUVs currently on the South African market.

Design-wise it looks enticing and refreshing. You can tell that Renault made an effort with its styling and it has paid off in a big way for the French automaker.

The Kadjar replaces the discontinued Renault Koleos and now reigns as the automaker's flagship model. It leads Renault's SUV-charge from the Duster and Captur.

New flagship SUV

The Kadjar is available with two engine options (a 1.2T and the 1.6 dCi) and two trim options (Expression and Dynamique). Both engines are mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

But now the French firm launched its Kadjar in 1.2T TCe Dynamique trim with a six-speed automatic gearbox. It's 1.2-litre turbo engine is capable of 96kW/205Nm and has a claimed fuel consumption of 5.7 litres /100km and CO2 emissions of 127g/km.

The Wheels24 team experienced the latest variant of the Kadjar for a week and share their opinions:

Sergio Davids - The Kadjar is Renault's flagship SUV and as such benefits from all the technology, features and design elements the French automaker can muster. As befits its status as flagship the Kadjar is big, bold and possibly one of the best-looking SUVs in its segment.

What's it to like to drive? While it's not exactly suited to sprint from robot-to-robot (and honestly it's a waste of fuel) - the Kadjar is well-suited for road trips. Steering is precise, body-roll is minimal through corners and though turbo-lag is present, overall the engine delivers adequate performance for a vehicle this size. Its suspension is capable of soaking up bumps and undulations, and the Kadjar delivers a comfortable ride well suited for road trips.

Gallery: Renault Kadjar TCe Dynamique auto

Inside, the Kadjar is backed by Renault's full host of technologies which includes a slick touch-screen, auto aircon and a self-park system. The self-park system is easy to operate and finding a bay (parallel or alley-docking) is a breeze; the system handles steering manveuores while the driver controls the throttle and gear shifts.

The Kadjar is a worthy contender in the SUV segment. You might also consider Renault's Duster if you're looking for a 4x4 or the Captur if your budget can't quite stretch to accommodate the Kadjar's relatively steep price. 

A photo posted by Wheels24 (@wheels24_sa) on

Janine van der Post - The Kadjar's gears are smooth-shifting and when your route between work and home clocks 100km a day, an auto gearbox is a boon. When taking a leisurely Sunday cruise with the family, turbo lag is unnoticeable though I was distracted by my toddler's squeals of delights at the sight of an aeroplane above. If you're headed out on the open road the engine feels a tad under-powered. With that said, it's claimed fuel rate of 6.9 litres isn't too far off the mark as I managed to achieve 8.1-litres/100km.

I love the styling of the Kadjar, its silhouette is appealing and it has curvaceous lines in all the right places. I particularly fancy the 'handles' alongside the gear lever and the interior design is quite practical. It has loads of storage compartments for baby bottles and cups. The seats are comfortable and the doors open wide enough so you're not left battling to squeeze a car seat into the Isofix fittings, or for that matter, a baby into the seat. 

The boot is a decent size and can hold enough luggage for a weekend trip with all necessary toys in tow.

I've driven the manual 1.6-litre Dynamique six-speed version and sadly I have to say it's a much more enjoyable drive than the 1.2 Tce. I know it's hardly fair to compare the two, and perhaps the 1.5-lite EDC (electric dual clutch) version will change my opinion and be more enjoyable to drive.

Charlen Raymond - The Kadjar’s roomy cabin creates a sense of freedom, which can be attributed to the huge (optional) panoramic roof. The cabin and quality materials give it a premium look and the seats are well designed and comfortable. A sense of quality is emitted when viewing the dashboard and overall, the interior is a great space to be.

On the open road the Kadjar offers a solid drive. Having driven it over various routes in the Cape Winelands, the SUV provides enough comfort on extended drives, while at the same time keeping its driver interested with plenty of steering feedback. On back roads the suspension rarely feels unsettled but a bit more power would have minimised the need for the engine to over-rev along mountain passes.

The 19" wheels fit snugly in their arches and thanks to good insulation, road noises are unobtrusive.

Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids

Sean Parker - The thought of a 1.2-litre turbo engine powering an SUV with a gross vehicle weight of 1853kg seems absurd right? Yet the tiny engine produces 96kW and 202Nm, which when driving around town is perfectly adequate for urban commuters. 

The force-fed engine suffers from turbo lag and the throttle needs to be handled quite carefully as a prod on the accelerator causes an surge forward that could leave the driver unsettled. 

Yes, when driving on a highway or national road with luggage and occupants you'll run out of puff, but the dual-clutch gearbox is all to happy to knock down a gear.  

Point is, we live in a world where small-capacity turbocharged engines are as popular as trees. And buyers need to made aware that in fact these aren't bad engines. 


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