When Renault first embraced the SUV market in 2008, its Koleos was a sales disaster. So when the company responded five years later with the much smaller Captur, the only way was up.

Sure enough, the Captur proved a hit and for an encore Renault came up with the Kadjar in 2015, using the Nissan Qashqai’s platform and running gear.

At launch we reckoned the Kadjar eclipsed the Qashqai, but in turn the Renault is now beaten by newer rivals such as the SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008. The Kadjar is still a great used buy, but build quality is proving to be an issue for some owners, so make thorough checks before buying.

Models covered

  • •  Renault Kadjar Mk1 (2015-date) – Capable SUV makes a great family car. Just watch for quality glitches.

Renault Kadjar Mk1

History

Renault delivered the first Kadjars to dealerships in September 2015. Petrol fans could opt for a 1.2 TCe engine, while diesel buyers could pick from 1.5 dCi or 1.6 dCi powerplants rated at 109bhp and 128bhp. The smaller diesel was offered with manual or dual-clutch automatic boxes, while the larger engine came with front or four-wheel drive.

Two years after the Kadjar’s launch, Renault tweaked the model range with a new 163bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, available only with a six-speed manual gearbox. At the same time, a continuously variable X-tronic automatic transmission was introduced for the front-wheel-drive dCi 130 diesel. 

Renault Kadjar reviews

Renault Kadjar in-depth review
Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi review
Renault Kadjar 1.6 dCi review
Renault Kadjar 1.2 TCe review
Renault Kadjar 1.6 TCe review
Renault Kadjar long-term review 

Which one should I buy?

The smaller engines (1.2 petrol and 1.5 diesel) are all you need, but only the 1.6 dCi is available with four-wheel drive; the 1.5 dCi EDC auto is slicker than the 1.6 dCi X-tronic.

Entry-level Expression+ spec has cruise control, steel wheels, all-round electric windows, air-con, hill start assist and Bluetooth. Dynamique Nav adds 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, a seven-inch touchscreen and extra driver aids.

Dynamique S Nav features front and rear parking sensors, 19-inch wheels, synthetic leather trim and powered door mirrors, while the Signature Nav brings LED headlights, a panoramic roof and upgraded hi-fi. The top-spec Signature S Nav features a reversing camera, leather trim and blind spot warning. 

Alternatives to the Renault Kadjar

The Nissan Qashqai is related to the Kadjar, so it’s arguably the closest rival, and a very talented one. The Kia Sportage is also very desirable because it’s well equipped and brings a class-leading warranty; its cousin the Hyundai Tucson isn’t far behind, albeit with a five-year guarantee. The Mazda CX-5 strikes a fine balance of excellent build, sharp looks, top value and a great driving experience – attributes which are generally shared by the Ford Kuga, which is widely available.

If your budget is flexible, take a look at the Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s well made and comes with some excellent engines, but prices are higher than for the Renault. 

What to look for 

Tyre kit

All Kadjars have a tyre inflation kit. Space saver spare is available, but not on Bose Edition cars.

Multimedia

R Link multimedia system isn’t user-friendly, with nav and Bluetooth issues common. 

Noise

Excessive wind noise can be due to misaligned doors, a badly fitted screen or a window not fully closing.

Key card

The key card can’t be put on to a key ring, but lanyards are available, which attach via a hole in the card. 

Interior

Generally finished in high-quality materials, the Kadjar’s cabin is conventional yet easy on the eye. It’s comfortable even if you’re tall, and in the back, there’s plenty of head and legroom. The boot serves up plenty of space, too, at 472 litres, or 1,478 litres when the seats are folded. Incidentally, high-spec Kadjars feature an easy-fold rear seat mechanism.

Prices 

Running costs

All Kadjars need a service every 12 months or 18,000 miles. The first check is £105; the next two are £69 and £139. Once a Kadjar reaches its third birthday, services alternate between minor and major, at £169 and £269.

Only the 1.5 dCi has a cambelt; change this every five years or 60,000 miles for £399. Coolant needs replacing at five years (£89), brake fluid after three years then biennially (£40) and the air-con needs servicing every two years at £150. A three-year/30,000-mile plan costs £299. 

Recalls

The Kadjar has been recalled four times so far, the first in January 2016 for possible brake servo failure – but not failure of the brakes altogether. Two campaigns came three months later, for side airbag and seatbelt problems respectively. The most recent recall came in September 2017, again because of side airbag glitches. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

Ranking 52nd in the top 75 of the Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey isn’t disastrous, but we’d hoped for better. Highlights were running costs, fuel economy and practicality, while Kadjar owners criticised the infotainment and safety features, plus the reliability and build quality disappointed.

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