French Accent | Renault Kadjar 1.5 DCI

BY Joel Tam

It's French yet it's not; the new Renault Kadjar is now a compelling choice for SUV buyers because it mixes a good drive with Japanese reliability

Photos by Joel Tam

SUVs have taken over the world! The recent craze over all things ‘high and lifted up’ has seen cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V (Vezel) enjoy success on Singapore roads. Around every street corner is an SUV prowling the tarmac, and the growth in these soft-roaders isn’t stopping. So how do you stand out?

Well, getting a French SUV might be a good option. Enter the Renault Kadjar. It shares some similarities with the Nissan Qashqai thanks to the partnership between the two manufacturers, in fact almost 60% of their parts are common.

But while the Nissan uses a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the Renault uses a more frugal 110 bhp 1.5 turbocharged diesel with 250 Nm of torque. The Kadjar is also arguably sexier looking and will definitely be more exclusive looks wise, considering the numerous Qashqais already on our roads.

The Bose Edition we’re testing comes with 19-inch wheels, actually so does the standard version, but these wheels are a different - and nicer - design. While the big wheels are really sporty, we do wonder if they rob you of the full benefits of the efficient diesel engine. This version also features some really cool LED lights that compliment the modern muscular lines of the French SUV. The big gaping grille from Renault’s new design language is unmistakably flashy and paired with the metallic red paint on our test car, it makes a bold statement in standing out from the crowd.

Inside the Kadjar, the cabin design is more French-flair skewed than rugged SUV. Clean and curvy aluminium trimmings outline the dash and centre console, giving the otherwise dark interior a modern touch. The 7.0-inch touchscreen Renault R-Link 2 multimedia system is feature-packed and has a customisable homepage that allows you to choose your favourite apps for easy access. It also, as the name suggests, comes with a full BOSE sound system that works rather well to drown the diesel clatter coming from the outside.

To be fair though, the 1.5-litre diesel is a lot quieter than I had expected it to be. Driving the Kadjar is rather enjoyable as maximum torque comes from a low 1,750 rpm. It’s by no means fast, but is able to make swift progress if worked hard and the engine is very well suited to the car.

Power delivery is smooth and getting it up to expressway speeds is a cinch, even if fully loaded with passengers. We even used it as a chase car to photograph a Mercedes A45 AMG during the time we had both cars.

The Kadjar’s chassis feels nicely balanced for an SUV, chuck it hard into a corner and you’ll get lots of body roll, but the car remains grounded and pretty much on track with tyres gripping hard. Steering is usefully light and direct enough for you know what’s happening with the car as it connects with the road. On the whole, it handles predictably and doesn’t spring any surprises - owners using the Kadjar will find it easy to manage.

So should you buy one? Don’t expect the it to be a sporty drive or offer a robust German continental experience and you’ll actually find it rather appealing. The question of reliability should not bother potential buyers as Renault has sorted many of their past issues over the recent years. Couple that progress with their partnership with Nissan, and you have a compelling choice Renault’s new Kadjar SUV.