The Renault brand has been around for 120 years since being founded by three brothers in 1899. In that time, the company has diversified like many European car-makers into everything from tractors to trucks to EVs to world championship-winning Formula 1 engines.
In Australia, the Renault brand was once a production powerhouse with facilities in Melbourne running until 1981. Twenty years later, following investment from Nissan (who like the French Government own 15% of the Renault) the brand returned to our shores with a combination of light trucks and vans, as well as a burgeoning passenger car line-up.
A key element of the Renault passenger car range has been the mid-sized SUV segment – which is very crowded and competitive.
We’ve spent the week with the Renault Kadjar Intens which we think makes a pretty good case to be on your shopping list if you’re looking for a reliable, comfortable family workhorse.
|On The Road
|Comfort, Safety and Luxury
|Families + Sales Reps
Sharing much of it’s underpinnings with the Nissan Qashqai, the Kadjar Intens, fortunately, benefits from a European interior which in the sub-$40K mid-sized SUV market is very impressive.
The front seats are extremely comfortable as well as being all leather and heated. The combination of power adjustment of the driver’s seat and the four-way adjustable steering wheel means finding just the right driving position isn’t very difficult – no matter your height or preference.
The fully digital instrument binnacle is very easy to read, although the shape feels restricted with a large main display accompanied by engine temp and fuel level on each side are a poor use of the space. Any other details such as trip computer data or radio station information are compromised by being very hard to find on the display.
The leather steering wheel is nice and thick and gives good communication with the front wheels especially given that the Kadjar range is front wheel drive.
The centre console uses its space very efficiently although it is very dated with a small 7-inch touch-screen. The RLINK2 system is a big step up from the previous version and despite the screen size, is easy to use.
The first criticism here is that the volume controls on the touch-screen are +/- buttons with no mute function. A volume knob should be a prerequisite for all car designers.
For the driver, the controls for the excellent 7 speaker Bose sound system are contained on a separate stalk below the wiper stalk behind the steering wheel. I’m not sure what Renault was thinking here?
The audio control stalk is quite large due to the need for so many controls to be contained on it. Buttons on the top for audio source and the telephone. Volume controls (including a mute function) on the outer edge and then a mode/OK button on the bottom. Around the back of the audio stalk is a toothed wheel for track/station forward and back buttons. The problem we found with the track selector wheel was that moving one track forwards or backwards was challenging as the wheel is hard to move in a ‘one-click’ increment. A little more time and practice would certainly help. Thank goodness for Apple Car Play and Android Auto – standard across the Kadjar range.
Three large faux metal dials make up the dual-zone climate control functions below which multiple USB and 12V sockets sit for your devices.
The rear seats are very comfortable with the typically compact middle-seat for the smaller members of the family. Another brace of USB ports and another 12V socket will keep everyone happy – as will the centre armrest cup-holders.
Our Kadjar was finished in Flame Red and whilst not a colour that I would ever select, it grew on me over the week.
The common DNA between the Kadjar and the Qashqai is far clearer when you step out of the car. From most angles if you close one eye and block the Renault logo with your thumb, it’s not hard to trick your mind that you’re looking at an equally good looking Nissan.
The top of the range Intens is shod with very attractive 19″ two-tone alloy wheels that are enveloped with Michelin rubber.
The brilliant LED headlights are another reason to consider the Kadjar. At both low and high beam the visibility is extremely good with a wide and deep throw of light – very helpful in rural settings at dusk.
At the rear, the tailgate makes use of the 1.6m height of the Kadjar ensuring easy access for more than adequate boot space for this sized SUV. If anything the boot lip could be a little lower but this is not a deal-breaker.
The transmission across the Kadjar range is a Dual Clutch 7 speed variant that is very efficient and effortless. Matched with the 19″ wheel and tyre package there is a little harshness to the ride, but it’s not something to get too bogged down with. The 17″ wheels on the Zen and Life models will certainly give a better feel on the road.
Road noise is minimal and as we said earlier, the directness of the steering makes every drive feel planted.
The 1.3L petrol engine does struggle when you ask for a big commitment of power. The Kadjar weighs in at 1.9 tonnes and that is a lot of bulk to haul about with such a small engine. The obsession with small engines in these European cars to satisfy emissions targets hurts the most important ingredient that these cars have – the driving experience. In turn, this hurts the owner’s wallet as small engines do tend to be thirsty.
The Kadjar is loaded with driver aids which almost every maker in this segment has in equal measure. I found the Lane Departure Warning a little dim-witted on a couple of occasions where poorly positioned bike lane markings on the road caused all sorts of noises to bark at me.
Thankfully the creature comforts more than makeup for one or two blind-spots on the Kadjar. It is certainly worth more than a passing glance if you’re considering a mid-sized SUV and have about $40,000 to spend.
The Renault Kadjar Intens should appeal to lots of people. It’s a super comfortable, well built, safe, and pretty luxurious sub $40,000 mid-sized SUV. It lacks complexity where none is needed and it’s sophisticated in areas where some of its competitors lag.
Families of course will love this car. Any sales-rep who does loads of miles (when restrictions lift) will love this car.
Cheap to buy, cheap(ish) to run, cheap to service – the automotive Holy Trinity that is only improved with the 5 Year Unlimited Kilometre Warranty, 5x Capped Price Renault Services, and Up to 5 Years 24/7 Roadside Assistance.
Renault Kadjar Intens in Flame Red is now available from $39,490 drive away.
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