The Renault Kadjar takes the Nissan Qashqai’s talents and wraps them in a more stylish package

The Renault Kadjar is a stylish crossover that's based on the same platform as the Nissan Qashqai. But, while the Qashqai took undisputed class honours when it arrived in early 2014, the game has moved on since. The Renault is feels pretty much the same to drive as the Qashqai yet does do while offering more space at a lower price. However, it but still just loses out to all-rounders like the SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008.

Despite this, the Renault Kadjar’s winning blend of desirability, quality, practicality and low running costs make it a deserved family favourite. We’d go for the lower-powered 1.3 140 TCe petrol in mid-spec Iconic trim, as it feels almost as powerful as the 1.3 160 and comes loaded with standard kit. If you're after a diesel, the entry-level 1.5 dCi TCe makes more sense than the powerful 1.7 - unless you intend to tow a trailer or really need four-wheel drive.

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Renault Kadjar Iconic 140 TCe

The launch of the Renault Kadjar caused a bit of a stir in 2015. While the firm had dabbled in the mid-size crossover class before with the unloved previous-generation Koleos, the Kadjar is a wholly different proposition. In effect, Renault has taken the Nissan Qashqai - Renault and Nissan are joint manufacturing partners - and formed the Kadjar for its own needs.

While the two brands claim that only 60 per cent of parts are shared between the two models, Renault said that 95 per cent of what you see and feel in the Kadjar is completely new. In essence, much of the driving experience is similar - some rivals are more sporty, but both feel rela from behind the wheel - but the Renault is both slightly more practical and a little cheaper than the Qashqai.

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There's a single bodystyle for the Renault Kadjar, and it slots into the Renault range above the Captur and below the larger, all-new Koleos. A range of updates introduced towards the end of 2018 further increased the Kadjar's appeal: the exterior gained mild styling changes, while inside got some greatly simplified climate controls and a slicker, more neatly integrated infotainment system.

Most importantly, the entire Renault Kadjar engine lineup was overhauled, all of the power options gaining emissions-reducing exhaust particulate filters. A pair of new 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engines - offering 138bhp and 158bhp - replaced the old 1.2 and 1.6 units, and each offered improvements in both performance and efficiency. The lesser-powered unit is offered with a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes, while the 158bhp version is manual only.

• Renault Kadjar vs SEAT Ateca

The Kadjar gets a range of powerful yet efficient turbocharged engines, but some rivals are more fun to drive
The most efficient Renault Kadjar emits just 111g/km of CO2
Funky styling outside, though interior design looks a little bland compared to some rivals
Despite being based on the Nissan Qashqai, the Renault Kadjar is actually bigger inside
Sharing a number of parts with the reliable Nissan Qashqai should stand the Renault Kadjar in good stead

The 1.5 dCi diesel gained a series of upgrades for 2018, which introduced small improvements in power, efficiency and refinement. The top of the diesel range saw the old 1.6 replaced by a 1.7-litre option. Based on the outgoing unit, the new model brought a significant power increase. The 1.7 comes with a six-speed manual, and is the only Kadjar that is offered with four-wheel drive. However, if you want an auto you still have to make do with the less-than desirable X-Tronic CVT box.

The Kadjar is offered in a choice of four trim levels. The range kicks off with the Play, which gets 17-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors as standard. The next step up, the Iconic, is the pick of the range, adding sat nav and 19-inch wheels; and above that are the S-Edition and the top spec GT Line.

The Kadjar stands as one of a range of cars deserving of serious consideration in the crossover sector. As well as the mechanically similar Qashqai, its chief rivals are the SEAT Ateca Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and our current class favourite, the Peugeot 3008. But that's not all, as the Kadjar also has competition in the form of the Skoda KaroqMINI CountrymanFord KugaMazda CX-5Skoda YetiVW TiguanHonda CR-VToyota RAV4, and many others.

Last updated: 
18 Feb, 2019