In sizing up our recently arrived crossover, it has sprung some surprises on us

More than a few people are trading up/across from conventional hatchbacks into crossovers like — or even such as — the Kadjar.

As you may recall, before the Kadjar I spent a year in a Ford Focus, so I feel well qualified to make some comparisons, especially given that the Focus is about as conventional a hatchback as you’re going to find.

There’s much I like about the Kadjar, but compared with the Focus it feels quite big.

I was going to write that the Kadjar is about as big a car as I’d be happy to use every day, for school runs, town trips, awkward car parks and the like, but I was reasonably surprised to discover that the Renault and the Ford are remarkably similar in size.

Amazingly (well, I was amazed), the Kadjar’s wheelbase, at 2646mm, is 2mm shorter than the Focus’s, and its front overhang (from the centre of the front wheel to the limit of the bumper), at 897mm, is 1mm less than that of the Ford.

The Kadjar is 13mm wider, at 1836mm to the Ford’s 1823mm, and overall it is 89mm longer (4449mm versus 4360mm), but all of that is aft of the rear wheels. The boot, basically.

And yet the Kadjar feels both roomier inside and less wieldy in town and when parking, and it’s not the extra length to the rear that’s the issue.

Much of the increased sense of size comes from the raised ride height and driving position.

The Kadjar is 144mm taller than the Focus, with all of the extra height added low down, if that makes sense.

There’s actually 20mm less head room in the Renault, but despite sitting higher up, the view immediately in front of the bonnet is nowhere near as good as it was in the Focus and it’s much harder to judge where the nose and front wheels are.

The raised bonnet and almost wave-like styling flourishes on top of each wing don’t help when it comes to placing the car accurately, either.

As it is, I’m really relying on the parking sensors.

I was convinced they weren’t properly calibrated at first and was sure I was going to hit something, but their red alert ‘collision imminent’ warning actually comes on with at least 30cm to spare.

Still, I’m getting used to it.

Certainly, the rear cabin is more spacious than the Focus’s, presumably because the back seats are sited a little way farther rearwards thanks to the space behind them.

According to our road test tape measure, typical rear leg room in the Renault is 720mm and it’s 660mm in the Focus.

The boot is a decent size, too, with 472 litres with the rear seats up and 1478 with them down (to the Focus’s 316/1107 litres).

I’ve yet to come close to filling it and, for now, the adjustable floor has stayed in its raised position, which minimises the loading lip.

In the meantime, and excitingly for the sake of something to write about, there might be something wrong with the car: the alarm has been going off, seemingly at random, which has hardly endeared the Kadjar to my neighbours.

I’ll look into it and report back.

Read our first report

Renault Kadjar dCi 110 Dynamique S Nav Auto EDC

Mileage 1730 Price £23,595 Price as tested £24,220 Options Metallic paint £625 Economy 56.5mpg Faults Alarm Expenses None

Our Verdict

Renault Kadjar

Renault's Qashqai-based crossover aims to do the same job as its sibling but for less money. So we find out if the Kadjar represents good value

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Comments
10

9 May 2016
I traded from an i10 to a 4x4 Duster 18 months ago and initially I loved the chunky size and potential ability of the car. 18 months later I am beginning to feel I have taken a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The Duster is a terrific car for what it is but I am starting to crave sharper handling and less bulk in my car. SUV`s a short lived craze? very possibly.

9 May 2016
Try driving something from as recently as the 90s even (let alone earlier) to remind oneself how bloated, difficult to see out of, and nightmarish to park modern cars are. It really is time the industry began to address this issue, as its products are out of step with their surroundings. Yes, safety is important, but a very good basis for safer motoring is to be able to see out of the damned thing in the first place!

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

9 May 2016
Herald, I couldn't agree more. Cars are a great deal wider and also harder to see out of and the latter point is harming safety. My father has just bought a new Honda Jazz, which has sensibly managed to stay compact, but the visibility through the side windows is startlingly poor. I wouldn't want to be on a motorbike when a Jazz pulled out of a junction..
The other bugbear is width. I live in semi-rural Herts where the Land Rover Discovery is king. A Discovery is only 100mm longer than my old Subaru Outback, but when you park at the local station you can't open the doors if people are parked alongside. Btw the cost of a parking season ticket at the station is over £1,000, so this would be quite an annoying thing to find out after buying a Discovery.
I am sure that people are aware that cars have got longer, but very few will realise how large the % width gain is...no wonder we all need reverse bleepers.

9 May 2016
Totally agree, though there are some exceptions in the market. I think VW with their MQB platform have pretty good forward visibility and the wrap around glasshouse and upright pillars of modern Minis also give excellent all round visibility. In fact any car with a more upright front windscreen will likely be easier to see out of.

9 May 2016
Will86 wrote:

I think VW with their MQB platform have pretty good forward visibility...

I agree. I have looked at the Qasquai a couple of times, and within seconds of getting into the driving seat have got back out again due to (for me) what I consider is poor visibility and that mass of bonnet that sticks out. VWs may be criticised for various things, plain styling being one, but they (Golf in my case) do work for me for day to day usability and long term satisfaction. Good visibility is an important component of driving enjoyment for me, and on narrow twisting roads in particular, I don't like to have to peer round bits of the car just to see where I am going.

9 May 2016
Stop buying SUVs!

9 May 2016
I live in rural California and can drive around in a giant pickup and it's easy because the roads and parking spaces are big. When I visit the UK I wonder how I ever managed to live in London with a full size saloon. Car parks at supermarkets are so toy town that I tend to hire the smallest car I can get away with. Visiting this month and I have asked for a Cactus - want those air bumps! I am so fed up with incredible shrinking windows that look OK from the outside because they have adjacent black panels but when you are on the inside you realise they are so small. I have seen third side windows with about 10 square inches of actual see-through. Can't someone start lowering waist lines, keeping higher roofs and maybe looking at saving money on bloody sensors and radars etc and spending it on new materials that can slim down pillars while still complying with safety regs?

9 May 2016
So the alarm is going off at random? We had the same problem with out Captur purchased in 2014. Renault spent 6 months trying to solve the problem with the aid of Cobra, the alarm manufacturer. In the end we rejected the car under the Sale of Goods act, got our money back. Not for nothing do French cars have a reputation for dodgy electrics......

9 May 2016
I was one of many who thought that sitting higher up would bring great benefits to visibility and a sense of control. This is definitely the case with upright crossovers/SUVs such as Yeti, Forester, Rav 4, XC60 but so many now have ridiculously squashed rooflines and mock coupe styling and the trend is getting worse by the month. As such, many so called crossovers feel cramped, dark and awkward to drive. There are exceptions but they are reducing to the extent that if you want a tall driving position with a properly commanding view of the road you are often better off with some of the remaining MPVs around.

12 May 2016
... I agree with Tim. We have a Kadjar, which is brilliant, but it does feel a bit big. There is plenty of space inside, but it is hard to judge it's size and position from the drivers seat. I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly why this is, but I too realised that it's not actually that big when I saw it parked along side a Focus at the supermarket. First time I've conceded parking sensors are a must. A reversing camera would have been a nice standard option on Signature spec too, Renault!

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