Confident Kadjar ups the ante with new style and technology
Renault has issued a stylish new update for the Kadjar, its mid-range SUV model.
What is it?
Renault is now fully settled into the SUV segment, with a range of offerings to suit pretty much most tastes.
There's the small Captur, and the large Koleos. And nestling in between is the Kadjar, a stylish and roomy rival to the likes of the Peugeot 3008, Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca.
Indeed, the Kadjar shares the underpinnings of the Nissan Qashqai, due to the fact that Nissan and Renault have a joint manufacturing agreement.
Both auto giants are careful to stress, however, that both cars are substantially different.
Whatever Renault is doing works: the Kadjar has notched up around half a million sales to date worldwide since it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015.
By now, with the Koleos ensconced above it in the SUV line-up, Renault is undoubtedly relaxed and competent in the crossover/SUV space, something that wouldn't have been apparent a number of years ago, and this latest update to the Kadjar merely underlines the French manufacturer's growing expertise in this segment.
So, what's new with the latest iteration of the Kadjar? Renault says the new model has a "more attractive, stylish look, with dynamic contemporary lines".
A new emphasis has been placed on comfort, quality and ergonomic design, and the interior has been redesigned for "an even more enjoyable day-to-day driving experience". All of which are true.
What does it look like?
At the front, the new Kadjar carries over the C-Shape light signature from the Renault range, strengthened by integrating LED indicators into daytime running lights.
At the rear, the indicators also gain LEDs, as do the reversing lights and fog lamps, which are now slimmer and built into the bumper for a more elegant finish.
There's also a wider grille with new chrome inserts. The bumpers are more stylish with a larger area of body-coloured paintwork.
For the first time the Kadjar range is now integrated into Renault's EasyLife trim line-up, offering, says the manufacturer, enhanced looks, spec and value.
The model range is made up of four versions, a reduction from five in the previous generation Kadjar.
In addition to the now-familiar Play, Iconic and GT Line trims there is a new model: Kadjar S-Edition.
This style-focused trim sits between Iconic and GT Line and brings features such as striking interior upholstery that's unique to this model, as well as redesigned LED headlights, a rear-view camera and a panoramic sunroof; features shared with the generously equipped flagship New Kadjar GT Line.
I tried out a range-topping GT Line model courtesy of Charles Hurst Renault, with a TCe 160 4-cylinder petrol engine. It's roomy, easy and practical to use, with a sizeable boot and a full Renault infotainment suite.
GT Line is specced to provide maximum comfort, with extras like full leather seats and a leather covered steering wheel. Goodies like heated front seats, 360 degree camera and blind spot warning abound.
What's under the bonnet?
There's now a four-strong engine line-up for the Kadjar, with the latest Renault engines (the two petrol powerplants were developed in co-operation with the Daimler group) and boasting the latest in efficiency and emissions technology.
The car now comes equipped with Renault's newest 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. This is available in 138bhp and 158bhp variants.
The petrol TCe 140 and diesel dCi 115 power units are available with a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed EDC automatic gearbox, while the TCe 160 is available with a manual gearbox.
At a later date, Renault says, the dCi 150 engine will be available, exclusively in manual gearbox configuration, and with a choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The manufacturer is at pains to point out that the diesel powerplants have been modernised to give more power, better drivability and fewer pollutant emissions.
The car is light and satisfying to drive, and has enough power to make B-road driving fun, whilst ensuring a high level of comfort on motorway cruises.
Tech and safety
The cabin, which was already good, gets a modest overhaul, with even better soft-touch materials and leather options.
A key upgrade is to the central part of the dashboard, which gets a new multimedia touch screen with capacitive technology for a brighter display and greater sensitivity.
Measuring seven inches diagonally, the flush-mounted screen displays the R-LINK 2 system, with the controls on either side.
The R-LINK 2 is a connected multimedia system that includes a smartphone mirroring function, compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Drivers can display their favourite driving-compatible apps directly on the cabin screen for greater safety and more ergonomic use.
The new control panel for the automatic air con has a more modern, ergonomic design, with the temperature and ventilation settings displayed in the centre of three thumbwheels - this makes them clearer and easier to use.
The seats have been redesigned to make them more ergonomic, with a new length adjustment feature.
They also include double density foam to enhance comfort and prevent fatigue on long journeys, and firmer side reinforcements provide better support.
Rear passengers will doubtless appreciate that they now have gain two USB sockets to charge phones, tablets, games consoles, etc.
Who would buy one?
The Renault Kadjar is a great all-rounder but perhaps particularly suited to families juggling the demands of space, comfort, safety, tech and who will also appreciate its low running costs.
It's a stylish alternative in a crowded field and the range starts from £25,595 on the road. On sale now.
The Kadjar is available from Charles Hurst Renault (www.charleshurstgroup.co.uk/renault) and other Renault dealers