Riverside Park, Dock Road, Co. Limerick.V94FYY6

Tel. 061 442444

Renault’s last foray into SUV territory was a memorable one – for all the wrong reasons.

It was an epic trip to Fez in north Africa (where Tommy Cooper’s famous hat comes from) for the launch of the Koleos, the French car giant’s answer to the D4 tractor.

Unfortunately, it was July 2008, the new emissions-based VRT system had just kicked in and the recession was in full swing.

Renault Kadjar

It didn’t help that it was hideous to look at, handled like a combine harvester and was far too expensive.

It proved an unmitigated disaster.

But as they say, if at first you don’t succeed, just copy – or in Dublin parlance, cadge.

Ironic then that the all-new SUV from Renault should be called the Kadjar, or as one cheeky wag called it, Cadge-ar.

To the great unwashed, this French fancy is in fact the twin sister of the mighty Nissan Qashqai.

Comprising more than 60pc of the parts bin and the same chassis, one would think it’s just going to be a watered down version of the award-winning game-changer.

On the contrary, design inside and out brings a touch of much-needed class to an almost jaded format.

It’s absolutely stunning to look at, with a striking nose dominated by the massive logo nestled in the grinning grille which is further enhanced by the awesome LED light clusters.

Sweeping lines down the flanks show off every curve of the body, giving this sizeable hulk of metal real grace and elegance.

Thick rubber mouldings running from the foglight housings to the Kim Kardashian-like rear end add a touch of ruggedness, while the 19-inch diamond-cut alloys give the Kadjar real road presence.  

Renault Kadjar

Inside it’s a similar affair, with a state-of-the-art cockpit and wrap-around dash. Build quality is excellent, with soft touch materials and solid switchgear mixed with brushed aluminium inlays and piano black finish around the centre console.

It’s loaded with goodies too.

The entry level Expression + comes with cruise control with speed limiter, LED daytime running lights, foglights, Bluetooth, hill start assist , automatic lights and windscreen wipers, infotainment system controlled through a seven-inch TFT screen, digital speedometer and electric front and rear windows.

There’s oceans of room on board too, with 472 litres of luggage capacity in the boot (42 more than the Qashqai thanks to a longer wheelbase).

With the seats folded flat it expands to 1,478 litres.

Head and legroom in the rear are generous, and overall this is a very comfortable place to be.

The three engines on offer here are the 1.2-litre turbocharged TCe 130bhp direct-injection petrol unit, the 1.5-litre ENERGY dCi 110bhp diesel available in manual and EDC and the 1.6-litre ENERGY dCi 130bhp.

Drive-wise, the Kadjar was an absolute joy thanks to the sublime dual clutch automatic gearbox which really took the pain out of city motoring.

We were also more than pleasantly surprised by the economy and refinement of the oil burner, which is returning an eye-watering 74mpg (3.8l/100km and €200 road tax). We achieved around 55mpg over 1,000km of mainly motorway miles.

Pound for pound we found it hard to fault the Kadjar, and only time will tell if it succumbs to the electrical gremlins that befell the old Megane.

Right now, you’ll be hard pushed to get a better deal on a mid-sized SUV.

It’s cheaper that its twin and comes with three years free servicing and five-year warranty.

Prices start at €24,990.