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Too sensible to be French, Renault Kadjar XP

You can thank our stronger currency for the Renault Kadjar XP with its R40 000 worth of extras glued to the same R364 900 that in the past would have handed you the keys to an entry-level Expression. For now Renault has safely committed to building 100 Kadjar XP models and should they succeed and the Rand continues to gain power, that number could swell.

In fact, Kadjar XP could potentially find itself in a position to replace that model but if not, it’s back to the conservative Expression model sans the weekend-gear scribbled on the XP. It’s a decision that isn’t easily reversible.

If anything Renault Kadjar XP proves that R40 000 doesn’t go a very long way in vehicle upgrades. The 17-inch wheels dissolve a lot of that, but this is 2017 and an SUV with anything smaller causes serious harm to a car’s macho image. They can stay. Yet the decals are inoffensive, the roof racks can spend most of their time cluttering your garage and the tow bar folds away from view. Updated fog lights with cornering control respond to the indicators rather than steering input. Didn’t know that 200mm ground clearance qualified it for side steps either.

The 1.2 turbo is hooked to a light six-speed manual gearbox to shepherd all 96kW and 205Nm. Even though Renault has fitted the Kadjar XP with a tow bar, we got the impression the rest of the package would prefer not to be used in this way. In a realistic routine, Kadjar fulfils its family remit without any fuss or fatigue.

If the engine lacks mid-range punch, it counters with creamy smoothness from a squishy soft throttle pedal that over 4000rpm translates into speed. There’s a bit of body roll dialled in for ride comfort which shows surprising amounts of common sense in a segment saturated with compromised SUVs.

The Kadjar XP misses out on the touchscreen but in this rare instance we’re not disappointed because the dashboard appears neater now that it doesn’t have to rearrange itself to accommodate one. Buttons rejoice in the simpler layout while outright functionality certainly didn’t handle smartphones or media with inferior connectivity.

The problem with limited edition models is they can weaken the core brand by overdelivering. Whether you use all the XP’s accessories or not, a model that excludes them at the same price suddenly exposes serious inconsistencies in value. Kadjar XP needs to be a replacement, rather than a limited edition.

SPECIFICATION

1197cc, 4-cyl, turbopetrol, FWD, 96kW, 205Nm,6M

5.7l/100km, 127g/km

0-100km/h in 10.4 seconds, 189km/h

1335kg

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