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New Renault Kadjar and the five crossovers it needs to beat

01_CrossoversThe crossover conundrum

Not to be confused with cross dressers, crossovers combine the affordable running costs of a hatchback with the pumped-up, steroidal styling of an SUV. The phenomenon was kick-started by the original Nissan Qashqai in 2006 and has proved irresistible to buyers. Crossovers now account for nearly a third of medium-sized car sales in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, other car manufacturers have been quick to follow Nissan’s lead, meaning an ever-growing degree of choice. There really is something for everyone here. We start our round-up with the latest contender for the crossover crown, the new Renault Kadjar. Then we look at five key rivals it needs to beat – including, of course, the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai.

02_CrossoversRenault Kadjar

Best for: latest crossover on the block

The Qashqai proved that having an odd name is no barrier to sales sucess. That bodes well for the Kadjar, which is apparently named after the French terms for ‘quad’ and ‘agility’. So now you know. Renault’s new crossover shares its platform and engines with the Nissan, so it’s an oddly familiar package – albeit one wrapped in distinctive and rather handsome styling.

Inside, the Kadjar is spacious and very practical, with a larger boot than its Japanese cousin. The efficient 110hp 1.5 diesel engine is likely to be the bestseller. It emits just 99g/km of CO2 (low enough for free car tax), even if you opt for the automatic gearbox. There’s also a 130hp 1.6 diesel – available with four-wheel drive – and a 130hp 1.2 turbo petrol. The latter is much cheaper to buy than the diesels, and probably the best option unless you cover a high annual mileage. The Kadjar goes on sale in July, priced from £17,995.

03_CrossoversNissan Qashqai

Best for: all-round crossover competence

On paper, the concept of a crossover doesn’t make much sense. They’re heavier, slower, less efficient and probably don’t handle as well as a hatchback with the same engine. Yet spend a few hours – or indeed a few years – with the sector-defining Qashqai and it’s easy to see its appeal. For starters, it looks great, with just enough SUV attitude to get your neighbours talking. That boxy body also means plenty of interior space, plus the high seating position provides a better view of the road.

The Qashqai is easy to drive and very refined. Its engines are almost inaudible when cruising and the suspension smoothes out potholes and speed humps. The 115hp 1.2 petrol is competent and good value, but the gutsier 110hp 1.5 diesel is the best all-rounder. It returns a claimed 74.3mpg and tax-dodging CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Nissan no longer sells a seven-seat Qashqai+2. You’ll have to trade up to the larger X-Trail if you have more than three children.

04_CrossoversSkoda Yeti

Best for: driver appeal

It isn’t just the Top Gear boys who rave about the Skoda Yeti. This rugged crossover always scores well for owner satisfaction in the Which? Car Survey, and has finished first in the Auto Express Driver Power survey on two occassions. That’s partly because the Yeti is great to drive, with nimble handling that’s definitely more ‘car’ than ‘SUV’. It’s also due to the Skoda’s superb practicality; despite being smaller than many rivals, its slab-sided lines mean a useful, box-shaped boot. You can even remove the rear seats altogether.

We’re big fans of the 110hp 1.2 TSI petrol engine, which revs eagerly and is cheaper to buy than the 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. Fuel economy is a respectable 51.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km – and those figures are identical if you choose Skoda’s excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox. Like its mythical namesake, four-wheel-drive versions of the Yeti are surprisingly capable off-road. Outdoor versions look the part, too, thanks to skid plates and chunkier bumpers.

05_CrossoversSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Best for: value for money

Suzuki is a small player in the UK market and its cars can be hit or miss. The SX4 S-Cross, though, is definitely the former – especially when you take price into account. It starts from a whisker under £14,000, which buys you a 120hp 1.6 petrol in entry-level SZ3 spec. A well-equipped 120hp 1.6 diesel SZ5 is much pricier – at nearly £23,000 – but that’s still at least £3,000 less than a similar-spec Qashqai. Allgrip four-wheel drive is a £1,800 option.

If you want a crossover to stand out from the crowd, the Suzuki probably isn’t for you.  It’s blander than the other cars here, with fewer SUV styling cues. The interior won’t win any design awards either, but it is roomy and practical. The S-Cross also drives pretty well, with direct steering and a lively diesel engine.

06_CrossoversCitroen C4 Cactus

Best for: head-turning style

Whether you find its space-age style beguiling or bemusing, there’s no denying the Citroen C4 Cactus looks like nothing else on the road. Its most distinctive feature is the Airbumps on the doors, which protect from parking dings and come in a range of contrasting colours. The Cactus is just a radical inside, with a minimalist dashboard and optional sofa-style seats. It is on the small side for a family car, though, and it has obviously been built to a budget (the rear seat only folds in one piece, for example).

On the road, the Cactus is set up for ride comfort rather than sporty handling. This isn’t a car that likes to be rushed. Fuel economy is impressive – the BlueHDi diesel promises a remarkable 91.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 82g/km. And it’s hard to argue with the Citroen’s starting price of just £12,990.

07_CrossoversHonda CR-V

Best for: space and reliability

When does a crossover become an SUV? We’re not sure, but Honda’s ‘Compact Recreational Vehicle’ is certainly one of the larger cars in its class. That brings great benefits in terms of interior space and versatility – the boot is simply huge – but CR-V isn’t cheap to buy (prices start at £22,345). It is reliable, though. The petrol-engined CR-V was rated the most reliable 4×4 in the latest Which? Car Survey.

That said, we’d opt for the excellent 1.6-litre diesel, which comes in 120hp and 160hp outputs. Fuel economy for the 110hp version with two-wheel drive is 64.2mpg, with 115g/km CO2. The CR-V isn’t sporty to drive and its light steering offers little feedback. However, it’s comfortable, stable and safe. All versions come with city emergency braking, which can prevent low-speed shunts by slamming on the brakes if it detects a collision is imminent.

 

Renault Kadjar review: 2015 first drive

01_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Overview

You may have heard that the Scrabble dictionary was updated recently. New words including ‘twerking’, ‘shizzle’ and ‘ridic’ can now earn you points or perhaps even a triple-word score. One word that’s conspicuously absent from the Scrabble lexicon, though, is ‘crossover’. And that’s surprising, because these high-rise hatchbacks are fast becoming the most popular type of new car. Indeed, Renault says that one in five cars sold around the world today is a crossover.

It seems odd, therefore, that Renault has taken so long to bring a C-segment (VW Golf-sized) crossover to market. Especially since its alliance partner, Renault, launched the wildly successful Qashqai back in 2006. As you’d expect, the Kadjar is closely based on the Qashqai, and it follows the same formula: a roomy five-seat interior wrapped in swoopy, SUV styling.

Buyers have a choice of three engines: 130hp 1.2 TCe petrol, 100hp 1.5 dCi diesel and 130hp 1.6 dCi diesel. A dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available with the dCi 110 engine, while four-wheel drive is offered on higher-spec versions of the dCi 130. All other models drive through the front wheels only. The Kadjar will cost from £17,995 when it goes on sale in July 2015.

Oh, and don’t expect to see the word ‘Kadjar’ in any dictionary soon. It’s an abbreviation of the French terms for ‘quad’ and ‘agility’, apparently. Sadly, it will earn you nul points on a Scrabble board.

02_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: On the road

Car manufacturers usually bend over backwards to tell you how ‘sporty’ their new model is, but Renault didn’t use the S-word once during its press conference for the new Kadjar. Instead, the focus was on comfort – surely a higher priority for most crossover buyers than on-the-limit handling.

And yes, the Kadjar is comfortable, although its suspension feels firmer that you might expect. Speed humps and potholes are soaked up smoothly, but the ride feels jittery on uneven road surfaces. The larger 19in alloy wheels of Dynamique S Nav and Signature versions don’t help.

Tackle a twisty road and the Kadjar is competent if hardly, well… sporty. There’s a decent amount of feedback through the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel and the six-speed manual gearbox feels slick. Nonetheless, that lofty ride height means a fair degree of body-roll when you push on. You can’t defeat the laws of physics.

Frustratingly, the 110hp 1.5 diesel engine, which is likely to be the bestseller, was not available at the launch. It’s on-paper performance is good, though, with 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds – or 11.7 seconds with the EDC auto gearbox. We tried the 130hp 1.2 petrol first, which hits 62mph in 10.1 seconds. An audible turbo whistle when accelerating lends it some character, yet it’s also smooth and very refined at speed. The 130hp 1.6 diesel (10.5sec) is noisier, but its extra mid-range punch is welcome on the open road. However, the price premium makes this engine difficult for most buyers to justify (see Verdict for more details).

03_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: On the inside

Inside, the Kadjar has a high driving position that allows you to literally look down on other road users. Unless they’re also driving crossovers, of course. The well-padded seats are very comfortable, although we found the pedals were offset to the right in our (left-hand-drive) test cars.

Its stylish dashboard is dominated by a large digital speedo and – in our car – flashes of tasteful carbonfibre-look trim. The quality of the plastics won’t worry the premium brands, though. Renault’s R-Link 2 touchscreen media system is standard on all but entry-level versions, and is a marked improvement on the original version. You can swipe between screens like an iPad and download a wide range of apps. Unfortunately, its relatively low position means taking your eyes off the road to use it.

The Kadjar is slightly bigger than its sister Qashqai, which translates into enough rear-seat space for three adults (or two adults in comfort) and an additional 42 litres of luggage capacity. Its 472-litre volume compares to 316 litres in a Ford Focus and 416 litres in a Skoda Yeti. Better-equipped versions have handles in the boot for one-touch folding of the 60/40-split rear seat, plus there’s an adjustable-height floor to make loading large objects easier. Elsewhere in the cabin, you’ll find plenty of useful stowage space and a front passenger seat that folds forward into a table.

Trim levels start with Expression+, then Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. All come with six airbags, cruise control, hill-start assist (to stop you rolling backwards), air conditioning, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. The Dynamique Nav adds sat nav, along with R-Link 2 and automatic lights/wipers. Upgrading to Dynamique S Nav gets you 19in alloys, front and rear parking sensors, and heated door mirrors. And the range-topping Signature Nav comes fully loaded with LED headlights, panoramic sunroof and a thumping Bose audio system.

04_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Running costs

Affordable running costs have been key to the Qashqai’s success. In essence it offers SUV-style without the hefty fuel and car tax bills. The same is true of the Kadjar, which boasts fuel-efficiency on par with many medium hatchbacks.

The economy champion is the 110hp 1.5 diesel, with a claimed 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km (low enough for free car tax). Impressively, those figures stay the same with the EDC automatic gearbox, although you’ll pay a £1,200 premium for choosing it in the first place.

The gutsier 130hp 1.6 diesel returns 65.7mpg and 113g/km, which still equates to annual car tax of just £30 at 2015 rates. Choosing four-wheel-drive (a £1,500 option) cuts economy to 58.8mpg and bumps emissions up to 126g/km, so Renault expects just 8% of Kadjar buyers to do so.

As you’d expect, the 130hp 1.2 petrol is the least efficient of the engines on offer; it manages a respectable 50.4mpg and 126g/km CO2. You’ll need to work it harder than the diesels, though – not a chore, but you’ll be lucky to match those figures in real-world driving.

Predicted resale values for the Kadjar are among the best in the class, which helps reduce overall running costs. Pricing expert CAP says the Renault will retain around 42% of its purchase price after three years and 60,000 miles. Compare that to 39% for a Volkswagen Tiguan, 38% for a Qashqai and just 28% for a Peugeot 3008.

05_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Verdict

Renault had a head-start by basing its crossover on the successful and very capable Nissan Qashqai. And there’s no reason to think the Kadjar won’t be a strong seller, too; it’s practical, comfortable, efficient and competitively priced.

In fact, we think the French car looks and drives better than its Japanese cousin, so perhaps Renault has a winner on its hands. A Volkswagen Golf is ultimately a better medium-sized car, but if you want pumped-up 4×4 styling, the Kadjar should definitely be on your shortlist.

A word of warning when it comes to choosing engines, though. Renault says 80% of buyers will opt for a diesel, but the 1.2 petrol may work out cheaper unless you drive a lot of miles. Assuming you cover 10,000 miles a year, for example, the £3,100 premium for the 130hp diesel over the 130hp petrol would take you 14 years to recover via reduced fuel bills. Even paying £1,900 extra for the 110hp diesel will take six years to claw back.

Renault Kadjar 1.2 TCe Dynamique Nav

Price: £19,695

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 130hp

Torque: 151lb ft

0-62mph: 10.1 seconds

Top speed: 119mph

Fuel economy: 50.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 126g/km

 

Renault Kadjar 2015

Renault Kadjar revealed: 2015 Qashqai rival due autumn 2015

Renault Kadjar: the big brother to the Captur is here at last

Read more

Renault is launching a social media campaign to reveal its new C-segment SUV, which will be named the Kadjar. The manufacturer says “Kad” is inspired by “quad,” while “jar” comes from “the French words ‘agile’ and ‘jaillir’ representing agility and suddenly emerging from somewhere.” Apparently the “sound and spelling of the name have an exotic feel” while “the initial letter ‘K’ is indicative of the model’s robustness.” Renault says it’ll ramp up its game on social media as it drip-feeds information on the new crossover, which will set above the Captur in its range. Pictures and more information are expected to be released on 2 February.

Renault to launch Qashqai-rivalling “Kadjar” crossover

Renault is launching a social media campaign to reveal its new C-segment SUV, which will be named the Kadjar.  The manufacturer says “Kad” is inspired by “quad,” while “jar” comes from “the French words ‘agile’ and ‘jaillir’ representing agility and suddenly emerging from somewhere.”  Apparently the “sound and spelling of the name have an exotic feel” while “the initial letter ‘K’ is indicative of the model’s robustness.”  Renault says it’ll ramp up its game on social media as it drip-feeds information on the new crossover, which will set above the Captur in its range.  Pictures and more information are expected to be released on 2 February.

Renault is launching a social media campaign to reveal its new C-segment SUV, which will be named Kadjar.

Read more