Test Drive: Renault Kadjar dCi 115 EDC : Old World order

Renault introduced the new Austral just a few days after our test took place, making it somewhat instantly outdated.  However… What a pleasure it was to be behind the wheel of a reasonably sized SUV sipping diesel! No weird hybridized power plant here : in most cases the Kadjar just gets you from A to B with real comfort.

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The Kadjar was launched back in 2015 and is the granddaddy of the SUV class. Fortunately, driving it is still a real pleasure. This “Black Edition” version gives it a fresh look, while its overall design  aged quite well. Once inside, perceived quality is quite good even if the infotainment screen let it down. Even more so since the arrival of the electric Megane and its completely different dashboard. It will be used on the Austral SUV that is expected later this year.

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I like it

The thicker 3D effect upholstery improves seating comfort. Despite the more substantial cushions, lateral support remains perfectible but obviously you don’t wring a Kadjar in the corners like you would an Alpine. The back seat is equally welcoming and rear passengers can use two USB sockets. However, its middle part is much firmer and hampered by a hump in the floor. Boot capacity is only average, at 472 litres (the Peugeot 3008 offers 520 litres). Be warned that basic spec cars are denied the folding front passenger seat !

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Quite clever

When you press the Start button, it takes a while before the 1.5 Blue dCi starts and makes itself heard. The start-up is a bit slow and reminds us of Diesel engines from another era that  required three to four times longer warm-up duration. Fortunately, the comparison ends there and the Blue dCi boasts its first strong point: it is remarkably quiet and doesn’t vibrate much. The steering is smooth and easy, the suspension absorbs speed bumps efficiently and  the engine responds with some alacrity when using the lower gears. Once again, this car proves that there is nothing better than diesel power to move a family around without worrying about refuelling.

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I don’t like it

Although this engine lacks low revs flexibility due to its torque value being only 260 Nm, the EDC automatic gearbox somewhat makes up for it, bettering the little 1.5 Diesel lump’s responsiveness.

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Why I buy it

Even if the Kadjar is getting long in the teeth, it is still a great SUV, capable of swallowing up kilometres in genuine comfort and serenity. Its diesel engine is always quiet and its small capacity does not prevent it from tackling hills eagerly. We never noticed its lack of power while its moderate fuel consumption is a real asset. Over our 880 km test, average fuel consumption was just 6.7 l/100 km and we didn’t really try hard to get that. As tested, this top-of-the-range version starts from €36,825. The Kadjar will soon be replaced, negotiating a sizeable rebate shouldn’t be too difficult…

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Why I don’t buy it

As we mentioned it earlier on, this is a final, end of the line version that still can cut it up in many ways. However, age, like the devil, is in some details.  Connectivity is outdated, the screens are small and its general design shows its sell-by date is now over. Interior space and boot capacity are not best in class but they are still OK. Our most discerning readers would notice the steering artificial feeling, but one eventually gets used to it… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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