As the compact crossover segment continues to balloon with these ever-popular vehicles, Renault saw fit to introduce another – the new Renault Kajar. Aiming for the active, lifestyle angle in their marketing, the sporty red Kajars that were lined up for us to drive seemed to fit this category nicely.
The interior styling is fresh and modern and for those who like a bit of variety, there are various colour settings for the digital dashboard display. Despite having leather seats on the vehicles that we drove, the car interior seems to declare trendy comfort rather than ultimate luxury. But that’s okay. This is not a luxury SUV – it’s a sporty crossover with space. A small SUV that handles like a car. Exactly what Renault is looking to deliver.
According to the manufacturer, the company wanted to produce a ‘capable SUV, dynamic hatch and versatile sportswagon’ – a car as versatile as they come. They have achieved this goal quite remarkably.
I got to drive the flagship turbo diesel-powered Renault Kadjar Dynamique 1.6 dCi 4×4 on the Atlantis dunes. In Lock (4×4) mode, with tyres deflated and the traction control off, I got to see what this 1.6-litre engine (with an output of 96kW and 320Nm of torque) could do. Happily this torquey little beast proved more than capable in climbing and descending the sands of Atlantis.
Driving on tar from the airport to the dunes I piloted the 1.2-litre turbo petrol-powered Dynamique with an output of 96kW and 205Nm. It handled admirably on the road. Cornering was comfortable and although it’s not powerful, the crossover is more than adequate and overtaking a couple of trucks on a hill was a breeze.
I didn’t get a look-in at the entry-level Expression 96kW variant, but it has the same safety features that you find in the Dynamic range and all three models come standard with 6-speed manual transmissions.
The Kadjar has an economy drive indicator that rates your driving out of a possible score of 100. There is also a quirky feature on the dashboard, a tree that grows leaves as your fuel economy improves, or looses leave when you ‘put foot’. Unfortunately after some very sedate driving, my score plummeted from 85 to 64 after my little overtaking manoeuvre.
The other note worthy feature on the Kajar is the optional self-parking system. It really is quite something. Twelve ultrasound sensors estimate the space available in which to park. You select the type of parking you’d like the car to perform (for example parallel parking) and then take your hands off the wheel and follow the instructions displayed on the centre console screen. You may be instructed to ‘go forward’ or ‘put car into reverse’ but no estimation of available space is necessary, the Kajar does it all.
The price of the entry level Kadjar Expression Turbo is R 359 900, while the petrol powered Dynamique retails at R 384 900 and the diesel Dynamique dCi 4×4 at R 449 900. With all the bells and whistles including a panoramic sunroof, 19 inch alloys and the self-parking system you could spend up to an extra R38 000.