There isn’t a bad engine in the Kadjar range; even the 1.2 petrol is strong enough, providing you work it quite hard. However, it does feel a little strained in faster-flowing traffic, so, unless you mainly drive in town and your mileage is low, we’d recommend going for one of the diesels.
Our favourite engine is the 109bhp 1.5-litre diesel. It isn’t particularly quick, but it delivers its power smoothly and is gutsy enough from low revs, meaning you rarely have to rev it hard. However, the 129bhp 1.6 diesel engine is stronger, so is worth considering if you regularly haul around three passengers and a bootful of luggage.
All engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, although the 1.2 petrol and 1.5 diesel are also available as automatics.
Renault Kadjar ride comfort
The Renault Kadjar doesn't ride quite as smoothly as the Nissan Qashqai with which it shares a platform. It's a little choppier along typical urban backstreets, for example, and doesn't settle quite as readily on the motorway.
As long as you avoid versions with 19in alloys, however, the Kadjar is actually pretty comfortable by small SUV standards. It's certainly more supple than a Kia Sportage or a Skoda Yeti.
Renault Kadjar handling
The Kadjar handles well enough by small SUV standards. There's plenty of grip through corners and not too much body lean, although, being a relatively high-sided car, the Kadjar doesn't change direction with quite the verve of a conventional hatchback.
In fact, it doesn't handle quite as well as the rival Nissan Qashqai, either. The Kadjar's steering is noticeably lighter, which is great when you're parking, but it doesn't inspire much confidence at faster speeds, as you don't get much feedback through the wheel.
Renault Kadjar refinement
The entry-level 1.2 petrol is quiet at low revs and doesn't even get vocal when you work it hard, which you’ll need to do regularly to get anywhere in a hurry. Meanwhile, the 1.5 diesel isn't too anti-social, either, even though it isn't quite as smooth or hushed as the equivalent engine in the Nissan Qashqai.
The 1.6 diesel is the least agreeable companion; this engine sounds gutteral when you accelerate, and you feel more vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals than with the other engines. It still isn't overly intrusive, though. There's some wind noise at 70mph and the 19in wheels kick up a fair a bit of road noise, so we'd recommend sticking with smaller alloys.
It can also be hard to slow your progress smoothly because the brake are grabby, while the six-speed manual gearshift is a bit vague and imprecise. We've yet to try the optional EDC automatic 'box.
This entry-level petrol engine is fairly quiet but you have to work it quite hard if you want to get anywhere in a hurry. Worth a look if you're buying privately and your mileage is fairly low. Comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard but also available as an automatic.
Our pick 1.5 dCi 110
This diesel is our pick of the engine range. It’s gutsy enough from low revs so, while it never provides quick acceleration, you can make relaxed progress without having to work it too hard. It’s also smooth and quiet, and CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km (on some trims) make it an appealing company car choice. Comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard but also available as an automatic.
1.6 dCi 130
You have to go for this engine if you want four-wheel drive, although you can have front-wheel drive if you'd prefer. In fact, we reckon the latter is the better choice given its usefully cheaper price and running costs. The engine is little flat at very low revs and fairly noisy, but it is at least punchier than the cheaper 1.5 diesel. This engine isn't available with an automatic gearbox.