Renault Kadjar sets out to bash the Qashqai

Crossover is a strong and stylish contender in a busy crossover market

Renault Kadjar
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Year: 2015
Fuel: Diesel

Renault has never been easy on the Irish tongue. We emphasise the final "t", much to the chagrin of the sensitive French ear. To them the "ult" ending is pronounced as we would say a word ending in "w". That makes no sense in Irish diction so we don't let that final "t" sneak under the radar. Besides, it can be fun to watch the French wince.

It’s hardly surprising then that the introduction of its new family-sized crossover is likely to twist a few Irish tongues. The Kadjar (officially pronounced “ka-jaar” and not “codger” or “cat-jar”) sounds like the battle cry of a French aristocrat on horseback as he canters across the polo field, mallet in hand. But it’s not going to hurt sales. What’s another silly moniker in the motoring world after all.

The French can be confident this crossover will still sell strongly to Irish car buyers. For a start it's entering one of the hottest segments of the market. It's also effectively a French reworking of the best-selling car in this class, the equally silly named Nissan Qashqai.

Nissan and Renault are now siblings and that means sharing and caring for each other when it comes to new models. So what we have here is a take on the Qashqai that hopes to lure buyers with some competitive pricing and the added assistance of Renault’s in-house banking arm for financing deals.


The Nissan may be an established model on the Irish market, but the Kadjar offers all the same family-friendly characteristics at a better price.

Alongside matching the same functionality with a sharper price, Renault hopes to play its current trump card – styling. The French brand hired designer Laurens Van den Acker in 2009 to add some panache to the brand's eclectic mix of models.

Van den Acker previously mapped out a design language for Mazda and while he can't claim credit for the likes of the great looking Mazda6, he can attest to the difference design can make to the sales of a car brand. Speaking at the test event for Kadjar, he referenced the success of Mazda as an example of how strong styling can deliver to a car firm's bottom line.

Van den Acker created a “family face” for Renault with the Clio in 2012 and plans to roll this out across the range as it rapidly expands, with at least six new models coming in the next 18 months. The Dutch designer heads up a design department numbering close to 500 employees.

So what’s the Kadjar like? Well, it’s certainly got suggestions of being a larger version of the recently launched Captur, the smaller Renault crossover that’s doing particularly well among Irish buyers.


Styling is important to the brand and the Kadjar is eye-catching, thanks in large part to the creases and curves that feature heavily across the bodywork.

Inside the format is pretty much standard crossover fare, with Renault’s R-Link infotainment pack a feature on higher grades. This is yet another effort by a car firm to keep up with the smartphone age, but its app offerings are pretty paltry and there is no Apple CarPlay or Android equivalent available as yet. The digital dash is more impressive, though still some way behind German equivalents.

There’s impressive legroom front and rear, while the bootspace is well able to cope with anything the average Irish family can throw at it, with a minimum of 472 litres of space on offer and a further 55 litres in underfloor stowage. Pop down all except the driver’s seat and you get 1,478 litres and nearly 2.6m in length. Ikea need never cause a Kadjar owner a moment’s concern.

Three engines are on offer, with a choice of performance options. The 1.2-litre 130bhp petrol is perhaps not an engine choice many Irish buyers would make but it’s worth considering, particularly for suburban families. It’s a smooth, surprisingly peppy engine that may not pack a performance kick but delivers everything a family wagon needs. This is the entry-level version, available at €24,990. That’s €255 less than the Qashqai powered by the same engine. However, this engine is only offered in entry grade on the Irish market.

Next up is the 1.5-litre diesel, a well-established performer in both Renaults and Nissans over the years, putting out 110bhp. Prices start at €26,790, compared to €27,145 for the same-engine Qashqai. This is arguably the mainstay of the Kadjar range in Ireland.

Finally, there is the newer 1.6-litre diesel with 130bhp, with prices starting at €29,490. Here Nissan has the pricing edge, with an entry-level version at €28,645 compared to Renault’s mid-spec version at €29,490. This engine is also offered with the Kadjar’s four-wheel-drive version.

On the road the ride is comfortable, if a little soft, and it’s a similar story with the steering. If this is the French take on the Qashqai platform then certainly it has been tweaked for comfort as its defining characteristic.

One unknown element of the Kadjar tale is the likely residuals. That's where Nissan perhaps has an edge, given its established presence and popularity amongst Irish buyers. Yet Renault's operations manager Patrick Magee says the feedback in the UK from assessors suggests that Kadjar resale values will be as strong as the Qashqai.

And where the Kadjar will win is with the impressive finance packages the firm can offer through its in-house banking arm.

The Qashqai proved to be an unexpected hit when it launched in 2007 and it dominates one of the largest segments in the Irish and European markets. Renault has been missing out on this for too long and the Kadjar is a worthy entrant, likely to steal some of Nissan’s thunder.

The lowdown: Renault Kadjar
1.2-litre 130bhp petrol; 1.5-litre 110bhp diesel; 1.6-litre 130bhp diesel
Format: Two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive with the 1.6-litre diesel
Prices: Starting at €24,990 for petrol; €26,790 for 1.5-litre diesel; €29,490 for 1.6-litre diesel
Arriving in Ireland: Showrooms in July with customer deliveries from the start of September

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times