Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Call it what you want, it’s excellent

CARMAKERS have in the past come up with some real tongue twisters when naming new models.

CARMAKERS have in the past come up with some real tongue twisters when naming new models.

And yet ironically a few new models with tricky names have become big hits in the UK market.

Now Renault has given us the Kadjar — which sounds like something you might find in a deliciously atmospheric market deep in the Kasbah.

Sometimes it’s better if there is no explanation as an air of mystery surrounding any strange name only adds to its allure.

According to Renault, Kadjar is based on two words. The “kad” part is inspired by “quad” — representing a go-anywhere four-wheeled vehicle.

“Jar”, says the carmaker, mirrors French words for agility and “suddenly emerging from somewhere”. See what I mean about retaining a little mystique about a name not being a bad thing?

Anyway, whatever the etymology of Kadjar, on the evidence of this week’s drive, the Renault Kadjar Signature Nav dCi 130 is a very good car indeed. It follows in the successful footsteps of the Renault Captur — although I think the Kadjar will have more appeal and ultimately more longevity in sales.

This appeal is apparent to me because of the size of the Kadjar. The debate about the validity of big 4x4s has been going on for years now.

Most people believe the really big ones — the gas-guzzlers, the extreme so-called “Chelsea Tractors” — to be cars that have been in serious need of an update.

And, indeed, many large 4x4s have been getting the full-on “green” makeover. Now the plug-in hybrids have come on stream in the big SUV (sports utility vehicle) sector, the multi-litre, fuel-sucking petrol and diesel power units could be on their way to the museum in a few short years.

The Kadjar is a different proposition entirely. Everything about the Kadjar says that this is a car that is up for all that is involved in 21st century living — from the technology to the tactile. It actually feels like a car that knows where it’s going in 2016. But more importantly, and simply put, the Kadjar drives really well.

That is not something that all the new technology in the world is going to deliver. The driveability of a car — and the Kadjar has it in spades — is something that comes from basic design. There is, let’s say, a correlation between the Kadjar and other models in the Renault group, which is big and beefy in the European car market.

There are similarities in other cars because it is essential for today’s carmakers, despite the accusation that modern cars are bland, to have “signature” details.

I do not have a problem with this business of identity. As I was saying last week, it is important that the consumer is not confused about what he or she is getting when they buy a car. So the Kadjar I drove had a commanding driving position, good clear dials and dashboard detail inside and bright, concise graphics on its seven-inch touchscreen.

The ignition key most of us have known for most of our driving lives is a thing of the past. This “keyless” generation of cars has some flummoxed but I find it quite straightforward: people who are in the habit of losing keys will always lose keys.

The Kadjar’s ignition “key” (hands free keycard) is more like a mini-mobile phone. It is smart-looking and slips into your pocket. As I say, I have no problem at all with this device: my one reservation on it is that the lock/unlock buttons could be more distinct (especially when arriving home at night).

What Renault calls the car’s “core features” are too numerous to name here but this standard equipment is comprehensive. In addition, I liked the Bose “energy efficient” sound system: seven speakers and a boot-mounted subwoofer plus DAB radio and MP3.

Even with the addition of “option packs”, a car with a total on-the-road price of just over £27,000 has got to be excellent value for money. Most large 4x4s that the Kadjar stands up to in size and ability start off at around the £30,000 mark.

So it boils down to whatever you call a car, and whatever daft meaning you might attach to it, that is something for those in marketing and sales to worry about.

What motorists need is a good car: and to my mind the Kadjar is not just good, it is excellent.

Renault Kadjar facts

Test car: Renault Kadjar Signature Nav dCi 130

Total on-the-road price: £27,470

Engine: 1,598cc direct injection diesel

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Max speed: 118mph

Fuel consumption: 62.8mpg (combined cycle)

CO2 emissions: 117g

Core features include:

ABS with EBD — Electronic Brake Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Anti-Skid Regulation (ASR) and Understeer Logic Control (UCL)

Hill Start Assist (HSA)

Driver, passenger, lateral and curtain airbags

Passenger airbag-deactivation facility

Additional equipment includes:

Automatic dual zone climate control

Automatic headlights

Cornering Lights

Automatic windscreen wipers

Hands-free keycard

Door mirrors: electrically adjustable, heated and folding

Fully flat and multi-position boot

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