The Nissan Qashqai has enjoyed a long spell as crossover class leader, but now Renault has released a rival that is vying to take this crown.
The Renault Kadjar shares some similarities with the Qashqai thanks to the partnership between the two manufacturers. The engines from the Qashqai have been put into the Kadjar, and the Renault shares around 60% of its parts with its Japanese counterpart.
However, the trump card that the Kadjar has over the Qashqai is its price: it undercuts the Nissan throughout the range and opting for a mid-spec Renault instead of an equivalent Nissan will save you around £2000.
Four trims are available for the Kadjar – Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, and Signature Nav – and we’ve already driven the 1.2-litre petrol and the faster 1.6-litre diesel variants, but this is our first test of the 1.5-litre diesel on UK roads.
What’s the 2015 Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110 like to drive?
The 1.5-litre diesel is more frugal than it is fast, but it still manages to make swift progress if worked hard and is very well suited to the car.
It’s a flexible engine that offers great fuel efficiency and adequate power around town or on faster stretches of road. It delivers its power smoothly and won’t have a problem getting the car up to motorway speeds, even if fully loaded with passengers and luggage.
The Kadjar offers a comfortable ride, even on our rougher UK roads, and while it's not a sporty car the steering is light and accurate, and through corners the body is well controlled.
The 1.6-litre diesel Kadjar proved to be marginally less refined than the equivalent Qashqai, and we’ll need to drive this 1.5-litre back-to-back with the Qashqai to settle the score definitively. Regardless of how it compares to the Nissan, however, the Kadjar does a good job of keeping road and wind noise out of the cabin. Under heavy acceleration, though, engine noise from the 1.5-litre diesel does become intrusive in the cabin.
If you go for Dynamique S Nav trim be aware that 19in wheels come as standard and you’ll need to specify if you want the smaller 17in wheels. Opting for the bigger wheels will mean CO2 emissions rising from 99g/km to 103g/km, and fuel economy figures dropping from 74.3mpg to 72.4mpg. On that basis, it’s worth going for the 17in wheels to get the full benefit of this efficient engine.
What’s the 2015 Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110 like inside?
The spacious cabin offers plenty of head- and legroom for passengers in all bar the middle rear seat, and the good driving position has been maintained in the switch from left-hand drive to right-hand drive configuration. The fairly high driving position offers good visibility of the road ahead, and there’s plenty of adjustment to get comfortable, too. The Kadjar's practicality doesn't stop there: it offers an impressive 472-litre boot, which beats the Qashqai's by 42 litres with the rear seats in place.
The Kadjar also comes with some impressive safety kit. <="background-color: #f5f6f5;">Dynamique Nav trim and above brings lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition while emergency brake assist is included on all models as standard. It has also been awarded the full five stars for safety by Euro NCAP.
Of the four trims available, mid-range Dynamique Nav (£21,595) and Dynamique S Nav (£22,395) have the best blend of kit and price. Entry-level Expression+ (£19,895) is still quite well specced however range-topping Signature Nav (£24,795) is a little too pricey to recommend.
The Qashqai does edge the Kadjar in terms of quality in the cabin, which is to be expected with the difference in price, but the Renault is not lagging behind by much. A responsive and slick 7.0in touchscreen comes as standard in all models, but it looks a little too small in the cabin and there’s no option for a larger screen. Other standard kit includes LED daytime running lights, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB.
Should I buy one?
The Kadjar offers the fantastic appeal of the Qashqai but delivers it at a cheaper price. Company car buyers will be tempted by this engine for its low emissions while private buyers will be drawn by its competitive price and class-leading residuals.
Renault’s crossover is now the Qashqai’s closest rival, but we’ll need to drive them back-to-back in a group test before we can make a ruling over which one is the class leader.
What Car? says...
Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from £22,395
Torque 192lb ft
0-62mph 11.9 seconds
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg