Renault Kadjar TCe 165 2018 review

Renault's new 163bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine has been fitted to the brand's Kadjar crossover, but is it a perfect match?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Find your Renault Kadjar
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?

While the Renault Kadjar is no longer our top pick in a competitive crossover class, it’s still a fantastic family car. It’s practical, comfortable and refined; it drives well and offers loads of standard equipment. For most, though, the more economical diesels or the cheaper TCe 130 turbo will be a better bet – offering almost all the performance and superior value for money.

Two years ago, the Renault Kadjar was our favourite mid-size SUV. Since then, however, it’s been surpassed by a host of rivals including the SEAT Ateca and Peugeot 3008. That’s not to say the French crossover isn’t still a fine family car – it’s just that the segment has stepped up a notch.

To broaden the Kadjar’s appeal and bring it back to the forefront, Renault has added a new 163bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine to the range. It’s available on all models apart from the entry-level Expression+ and is the exact same unit found in the updated Nissan Qashqai.

Best crossovers on sale right now

On paper, it offers competitive numbers – both in terms of performance and running costs. It’ll do 0-62mph in a respectable 9.2 seconds, return 45.6mpg and emit only 139g/km of CO2. In top-spec Singnature S Nav trim, it undercuts the automatic-only but identically-powered 3008 GT Line by almost £3,000.

On the road, however, it’s a different story. If you’re used to driving a diesel SUV, you’ll miss the punchy torque delivery and low-end shove. The Kadjar TCe needs to be worked hard to extract all that performance, and in-gear acceleration feels inferior to the less-powerful dCi 130, too. 

Having to work it so much harder means you’ll spend more time in the upper reaches of the rev band as well. It isn’t the most tuneful engine, either, so you’ll find yourself doing all you can to drive more sedately.

It’s a shame, really, because the Kadjar is still a smart-handling SUV. It’ll hold its own in the bends, and while it isn’t as sharp as an Ateca, the softer ride means it’s far more comfortable on longer motorway journeys. At a cruise, the petrol engine is suitably hushed, though that cushioned ride was hampered slightly by our test car’s 19-inch wheels. 

Speaking of which, you can’t argue with the Kadjar’s kit list. Most will find the cheaper Dynamique Nav model offers all the equipment you’d either want or need, but if a swish SUV is top of your wish list, this car’s parking camera, leather upholstery and panoramic roof should tick all the right boxes.

Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the our team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

Most Popular

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates
Renault 5 EV concept at 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates

Renault’s reborn Renault 5 will start from €25,000 in Europe, suggesting a circa-£30k price in the UK. It's due on sale in the summer of 2024. Here's …
1 Dec 2023
‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’
Opinion - Fiat Scudo

‘Forget leasing a car, a cut-price van should be your next everyday vehicle’

With some huge savings to be had, Mike Rutherford thinks a van could be the perfect vehicle
3 Dec 2023
New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash
BMW Neue Klasse SUV exclusive image - front

New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash

BMW’s first Neue Klasse electric SUV could carry the iX3 nameplate and our exclusive images preview how it might look
30 Nov 2023