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