“Who on earth is this car supposed to appeal to?” grumbles Jeremy as he eases himself into the passenger seat of Renault’s mid-market, mid-sized crossover.
Jeremy, 52, is happily married with two teenage daughters. He’s a fan of good design, but he’s also a realist – he’ll always favour function over form.
But his fatal flaw is that he doesn’t realise that. I don’t answer his question, but after a moment or two, Jeremy looks at me and laughs: “Ah, I see, this car is supposed to appeal to me! I am its target audience.”
As usual, Jeremy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He has no reason to be snitty about this latest model from Renault. It packs quite a punch.
Its combination of low-key looks, economy, practicality, comfort and usable space means it will be a loyal servant to every family that decides to take it into their service.
The Kadjar sits midway up Renault’s size pyramid: it’s bigger than the Captur and smaller than the Koleos. The first car I ever owned was a Renault.
Cute and colourful, it sprouted rust and moss with exuberance. It cost £15 and a cup of coffee and lasted for six months before it collapsed outside a breaker’s yard.
They bought it from me for £15 – so I had six months motoring for the price of a cappuccino.
Anyway, the point of this little diversion is that it was a Renault 5. A simple and classy name compared with the fridge magnet roulette Renault’s branding team use now to create their model names.
The name Kadjar, which sounds like cadger, but in fact comes from the word “kad”, was apparently inspired by the French word for four-wheeled and “jar”, derived from the French for agile.
Renault believes it has everything it needs to become one of the brand’s biggest sellers.
However, the massively overcrowded shark pool it finds itself swimming in is dominated by Nissan’s Qashqai.
And if that isn’t intimidating enough, it will also have to go mano a mano with the likes of Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008, Honda HR-V and Skoda Karoq.
It’s a clever move, therefore, that the Kadjar has taken its lead from the alpha car of the group.
Behind its eyecatching grille and swooping body panels, this Renault is, in fact, a Qashqai. Renault has an alliance with Nissan.
It is also in cahoots (which sounds like a good name for Renault’s next model) with Mercedes.
The alliance includes sharing engine technology with Daimler. Pop open the bonnet of a Kadjar, Qashqai and A-Class and you’d find they’re all powered by the same 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo, with either 138bhp or 158bhp.
As Oscar Wilde said: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…” It’s also available with a 1.5-litre diesel.
The Kadjar is resolutely a family car. When Jeremy asks me what it’s like to drive, I say: “Like a family car.”
And I don’t mean that as any kind of put-down. It’s comfortable, with soft steering and a steady throttle. It’s perfectly pleasant.
It’s not a sports car. And any vehicle that offers a more involved “driver’s” drive would lose the battle to keep its consumption down.
The 158bhp version delivers up to 65.7mpg. I found the real-world figure was closer to 40 miles to the gallon, which is still very impressive in a car like this.
The interior is roomy, practical and well-made. Leather trim on the dash breaks up the usual sweep of hard plastics that often features on a car like this. It’s a five-seater with lots of headroom and a large boot.
The Kadjar doesn’t excel in any one particular area, but it’s a great all-rounder.
It looks fine, drives well and won’t let you down… a little like Jeremy himself.