First impressions of the Qashqai tended to revolve around how brilliantly refined Nissan had made it on the road; first impressions of the Kadjar tend to strain in the opposite direction. The diesel engine’s discordant voice seems prominent at virtually every stage, corrupting almost immediately the notion that the Renault might live up to its sibling’s high standard of isolation.
Beneath the noise, the 1.5-litre engine is a somewhat inconsistent performer, its shortcomings further highlighted by the subsequent evolution of a superior generation of small oil-burners – not least that found in the Honda HR-V we tested.
The Kadjar’s worst failing, exacerbated by its gearing, is a reluctance to rev below the point at which the turbo spins into life to yield the engine’s modest 192lb ft. At low speeds, in any gear above first, it hacks and grumbles discontentedly below 2000rpm. That’s not unheard of in a diesel, but it’s bewildering nevertheless when merely being asked to accelerate from 30-50mph in fifth – an odyssey that took almost six seconds longer here than it did in the Honda.
That stuttering low-rev intransigence can be frustrating – but in truth it’s easily avoided. Drive with even a hint of purpose and the Kadjar progresses more keenly, its clamorous, short-lived, 850rpm-wide band of peak tug usually sufficient to see you smartly up the road. Exploit this thin seam of enthusiasm and the car is responsive enough, probably to the fulfilment of most buyers’ expectations.