The lovechild from a sport util­ity me­nage au trois in the Re­nault stable is here

Re­nault now leads the race to make the cutest cross- overs for the world’s ur­ban ad­ven­tur­ers

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - PHOTO: QUICPIC

WHEN the hard­work­ing South African band Boo! broke into the Euro­pean scene with their new sound in 1997, lead singer Chris Chameleon quickly made a name by play their edgy “Monki Punk” sound in 17 coun­tries, all while wear­ing that lit­tle pur­ple dress.

Back home in Joburg, young Afrikan­ers em­braced his cross­dress­ing ap­pear­ance as proof that not all Bo­ertjies had a two- toneshirt-in- a- Hilux mind­set.

Back then, some of them “could even like to drive” the cute lit­tle Suzuki Jimny or Toy­ota Rav4. In the decade that fol­lowed, the num­ber of ve­hi­cles that made like Chameleon with his pur­ple dress to cross the di­vide be­tween butch and sexy have grown ev­ery year. The Re­nault- Nis­san and Peu­geot- Citroën al­liances have been neck and neck in the race to make the cutest cross- over, but in the Kad­jar, Re­nault has now edged ahead.

The Kad­jar is the lovechild of a me­nage a trois be­tween the bulky Mu­rano- Koleos clone, the Duster and the Captur, or as Re­nault puts it, “the Kad­jar is the re­sult of the in­te­gra­tion of three ve­hi­cle cat­e­gories: ca­pa­ble SUV, dy­namic hatch and ver­sa­tile sportswagon ca­pa­ble SUV, dy­namic hatch and ver­sa­tile sportswagon”.

Deal­ers are now sell­ing three mod­els — from R359 900 for the “en­try level” Kad­jar, then R384 900 for the Dy­namique 96kW Turbo while the diesel 4x4 costs R449 900.

Ex­tras in­clude 17- inch al­loys, which cost an ex­tra R6k, while 19 inches cost R8k, nei­ther of which we do rec­om­mend on South Africa’s pot­holed roads. Pick the higher side­wall each chance you get.

Un­der the hood

Our pick is the diesel- pow­ered Dy­namique 96 kW 1.6 dCi 4x4.

It makes 320 Nm and of­fers all wheel drive that will be good for mod­er­ate rock crawl­ing thanks to the Kad­jar’s ground clear­ance of 200 mm. Re­nault also claims 5,4 litres/ 100 km for the lit­tle mill, which we can well be­lieve.

For those who never leave the city we rec­om­mend the 1,2 turbo petrol en­gine, which is fit­ted in both the Kad­jar Dy­namique and Ex­pres­sion vari­ants.

For typ­i­cal Kad­jar buy­ers who don’t want to know any specs other the the colour, a metal­lic fin­ish can be had for an ex­tra R2 500. Those who are into the eye- glaz­ing stats will be re­ally im­presses by the thermo- ef­fi­cien­cies of Re­nault’s lit­tle mills. Max power is 96 kW at 5 500 rpm and peak torque turns the wheels at 205 Nm from only 2 000 rpm. a fig­ure that com­pares favourably with much higher ca­pac­ity nor­mally as­pi­rated en­gines. All en­gines have tem­per­a­ture man­age­ment to run cold, with spe­cial car­bon coat­ing on the pis­ton sleeves to re­duce fric­tion and en­ergy loss.

The bat­ter­ies also col­lect the ki­netic en­ergy from brak­ing and re­cy­cle this as elec­tric power.

And as is the case with all new cars aimed at Euro­pean buy­ers, the petrol Kad­jar has a stop- start sys­tem to pre­vent idling out fuel while stuck at traf­fic lights.

All three mod­els come stan- dard with six- speed man­ual trans­mis­sions that re­ally help to lower the fuel bill. As Re­nault states: “Th­ese new gen­er­a­tion low- in­er­tia turbo en­gines boast ef­fi­cient and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies de­rived from Re­nault’s For­mula 1 ex­per­tise af­ford­ing the New Re­nault Kad­jar sig­nif­i­cantly lower fuel con­sump­tion and CO2 emis­sions.”

Un­der the roof

In­side any new Re­nault you can ex­pect cut­ting- edge touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems, and the top- of- the- range Kad­jar also has sev­eral driv­ing as­sis­tance fea­tures, Self- Park­ing with Blind Spot De­tec­tion and 360° Park Dis­tance Con­trol with rear cam­era. Prac­ti­cal bot­tle, cup and smart­phone hold­ers in the doors, glove box and cen­tral arm­rests of­fer 30 litres of com­bined space. The rear bench folds in a 60/ 40 split. As in an Audi, the dash­board is shown on a seven- inch TFT colour screen. The steer­ing wheel is equipped with user- friendly con­trols for us­ing and con­fig­ur­ing the on- board com­puter, con­trols for the in­for­ma­tion dis­played on the con­sole, con­trols for the hands- free tele­phone as well as cruise con­trol/ speed lim­iter con­trols. A sec­ond seven- inch touch screen present the Mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem that has a con­fig­urable home page to which wid­gets can be added. It of­fers Bird­view ( 2.5 D) type nav­i­ga­tion, has a new dis­play screen for ad­vanced driv­ing as­sis­tance fea­tures, Eco Driv­ing and Air Qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing. In­tu­itive voice recog­ni­tion is used to nav­i­gate, con­trol se­lected au­dio func­tions and make tele­phone calls. The lat­est sys­tem has su­perb au­dio qual­ity and mu­sic play­back in­ter­face and also al­lows the oc­cu­pants to view photos and videos.

While on the go, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity en­ables safe, con­ve­nient and hands- free tele­phony and au­dio stream­ing from ex­ter­nal de­vices. SMSes can be re­ceived au­di­bly and there is a “push to talk” but­ton on the steer­ing wheel for voice- prompted di­alling. Ra­dio con­trols, in­clud­ing source se­lec­tion ( USB & AUX) are ac­cessed via fin­ger­tip con­trols con­ve­niently lo­cated along­side the steer­ing col­umn.

Cute com­peti­tors

The Opel Mokka does not have the dig­i­tal dash­board and rides 69 mm lower, but it is R72k cheaper on the en­try- level 1.4 Turbo En­joy, which costs R310 600.

The Re­nault has a longer war­ranty, ( five years and 150 000 km to the Opel’s 120 000 km) and both have the same ser­vice plan of five years and 90 000 km.

A left- field com­peti­tor for both is the Suzuki Jimny.

This old- school 4x4 is not the big­gest all- ter­rain ve­hi­cle from this Ja­panese stable, but it is the cutest out there, es­pe­cially as it is about a grand cheaper than both the Mokka and the Kad­jar.

It does, how­ever, make up for this price with a much shorter war­ranty ( three years or 100 000 km) and a ser­vice plan of four years or 60 000 km.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

The Kad­jar boasts two re­mark­ably ef­fi­cient en­gines from the Re­nault- Nis­san al­liance on a rel­a­tively high ride for that cross- dressi­est cross- over yet.

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