Cape Town - Renault has launched its latest SUV crossover in South Africa - the new Kadjar.
The automaker aims to increase its market share from 46% to 52% with the launch of its new crossover, a vehicle the automaker says slots in both the "C-and D-segment" SUV market.
The Kadjar adds another model to Renault's growing SUV arsenal in SA. With tough competition and a growing market, Renault believes it's upped the ante with an attractive, feature-packed offering.
Read: Here's how much you'll pay for Renault's new Kadjar in SA
Here’s 10 things you should know about Renault's funky new Kadjar in SA.
1. Its name is derived from several French words
Renault says the word ‘Kad’ is inspired by the word quad or 4-wheeled vehicle while ‘Jar’ is derived from the French word agile (meaning nimble and dexterous) as well as ‘Jaillir’ which means to ‘emerge suddenly’.
2. It's a '3-in-1' SUV crossover
Renault says the Kadjar slots in both the "C-segment and half D-segment". The automaker claims its new model is a '3-in-1' SUV crossover vehicle - the practicality of an SUV, the fun of a hatchback and the performance of a sporty wagon. It measures 4.44m long, 1.83m wide and has a ground clearance of 20cm. It has approach and departure angles of 18- and 28 degrees respectively.
Its roof rails, front and rear skid plates, along with an integrated roof spoiler and 17” alloys – optional 19” wheels attribute to its funky SUV styling.
3. Two engine options, one gearbox
The Kadjar is available with two engine options (a 1.2 T and the 1.6 dCi) and two trim options (Expression and Dynamique). Both engines are mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The 1.2T is only available in Expression trim and forms the entry-level derivative. It’s capable of 96kW/205Nm, has a claimed fuel consumption of 5.7 litres /100km and emissions of 127g/km.
The 1.6 dCi, available in both trim levels, pushes out 96kW/320Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at 5.4 litres/100km with emissions of 143g/km.
4. Smooth on the road, power when you need it
In terms of road manners, it’s as if Renault has analysed its rivals and aimed to deliver a vehicle that's on par or, in some cases, better than the rest. The Kadjar is spacious and comfy. The driver’s seat has a raised driving position, great for us vertically-challenged folk whom are often left peering over big, bulky bonnets. The seats have extra cushioning and leather can be purchased as an optional extra.
The engines are fantastic and enables the Kadjar to live up to its "agile" moniker. Gear-shifts are smooth,and there’s a gear-change indicator to help you achieve optimal shifts. Driving it through Durbanville’s twisties in the Western Cape, the Kadjar performs admirably with adequate road-holding when pushed and it's capable of overtaking with gusto when needed. It accelerates with ease while steering and throttle is responsive.
We drove both Dynamique models on launch, including the 4x4 version along the Atlantis sand dunes. While most would be more at ease taking 'proper' off-road vehicles such as a Toyota Fortuner or Ford Ranger to tackle dunes, the Kadjar in 4x4 guise is more than suffice and a capable off-road despite witnessing a few motoring journalists bogged down in the soft sand.
The Kadjar's All Mode 4x4-i four-wheel drive model has three driving modes which made tackling tough sand dunes a lot easier. In 2WD mode, power is transferred to the front wheels to optimise fuel consumption under normal driving conditions; or when driving in towns and cities, says Renault.
We used the Lock mode for the uneven surfaces of the dunes which allows for a 50/50 distribution between the front and rear wheels though it only works while travelling at speeds less than 40km/h.
Travel faster than 40km/h and the SUV engages Auto mode which controls the transmission and power to each wheel automatically, corrects torque distribution and disengages the anti-spin system. It also explains why some of us were halted in our tracks when having too much fun. Other than that the Kadjar glided over gleaming white dunes.
I thought the dunes was the perfect place to display the model's capabilities, as it showed how well the car responds to tough conditions. If you're taking on sandy conditions you need a vehicle that can provide steady momentum, good traction and power - so well done Renault on delivering an adequate 4x4.
5. It faces stiff competition in SA
Since Renault believes its Kadjar crossover fills two segments, its list of rivals is huge: List by Renault
1 Toyota Rav4
2 Nissan Qashqai
3 Kia Sportage
4 Hyundai Tucson
5 Mazda CX-5
6 Nissan X-Trail
7 Ford Kuga
8 VW Tiguan
9 Honda CR-V
10 Jeep Grand Cherokee
11 Hyundai Santa Fe
12 Mitsubishi ASX
Renault believes its Kadjar's main competitors are the Toyota Rav4, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Tucson.
6. It turns you into an eco-friendly driver
The first part of the launch was designated as an "Eco-Challenge" and this is thanks to the Kadjar's built-in eco-scoring and eco-coaching systems. It measures your driving style and rates your acceleration, gear-shifts and brake-use. The system scores your driving out of 100 points. It also measures the distance you drive without fuel consumption. The better you drive, the more the li'l leaf "grows" on your instrument cluster reflecting a high score.
It also provides tips to improve your driving such as "Try not to accelerate too hard - you will not lose time and you'll save a lot of fuel."
7. It has a 7" touchscreen infotainment screen.
The Kadjar is equipped with a radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB and AUX connections and can play images or videos via a flashdrive. The biggest tech highlight is voice-recognition system for the audio, satnav via TomTom maps and telephone connectivity.
8. You can customise your Kadjar
The Kadjar's multimedia system has, Renault says, a customisable 'homepage'. You can configure widgets and move/activate them with finger swipes akin to applications on a smartphone or tablet. There are six preset profiles and centralised functions for the aircon, driving assistance etc. You can even configure the colour of the console dials (with seven options to choose from).
The central screen also allows for full or partial configurations; you could for example display the navigation on the lower portion while the top half shows your trip report and audio. The outside environment can be measured by the 'Take Care' system which detects how clean the air is outside the car and allows you to deploy the air freshener inside.
9. It has huge boot
Since it's an SUV, you can expect a generous load bay and in this area the Kadjar excels with 370 litres AND a full spare in the trunk.
10. Optional self-park system
Since the vehicle already sports considerable standard kit, there isn't much in terms of optional extras. That being said you can opt for large 19" tyres on the higher-spec models for R8000, a panoramic sun roof (R8000), leather seats (R12 000) and a self-park system (R10 000).