Renault is back. Let me be honest here, unlike most car brands here, Renault doesn't have a very strong history in Kenya. Most other brands you can mention just one model and see folks eyes light up, a long story that has been told hundreds of times at their lips.
Say three little words, “Five, Oh, Four” in front of just about any Kenyan and you'll see what I mean. The word “Datsun”, related to their sister company Nissan, will probably do the same. Of the main French car brands, alongside Peugeot and Citroen, Renault doesn't quite hit the spot. During the briefing that came after our short test drive, the Marketing Manager could only point to a few appearances in the Safari Rally as their claim to fame in our market.
It would appear then that the brand has an uphill task in winning the hearts and minds of Kenyans. However, they do have an ace up their sleeve, their cars are pretty good. Safari Rally aside they do have a very strong racing pedigree. They made a good showing at the Dakar rally and they have been part of Formula 1 since the 70's (with a short break somewhere between then and now), racking up over 160 World Championship Grand Prix wins by engine manufacturer, placing then third after Ferrari and Ford.
They were, most notably, the manufacturer that introduced Turbocharging to F1, which brings us back to the cars we had a look at that day, the Renault Kadjar and the new Renault Duster.
Let's start with the Duster. I didn't get a chance to test drive it, so I'll just dive in based on the conversations I had that day. The front of the new 2016 Duster gets a facelift with a new grille and headlamp clusters along with brand new “Firefly” fog lamps. The new Duster also gets new “Kayak” roof rails, new LED tail lamps, smaller rear view mirrors with integrated turn indicators and a rather good looking set of 16″ “Black Diamond” alloy rims. It will be available in six colours, with “Orange Cayenne” set to be the most popular choice.
The big news on the mechanical front is that Duster is now available with four wheel drive on demand and a diesel engine. The previous model offered a petrol driven front wheel drive only. Under the hood of the new model now lies a brand new 1.5L TurboDiesel engine mated to a 6 Speed manual with a claimed 5.2L/100Km consumption (combined). They plan to offer an Automatic gearbox before the end of 2017.
The new diesel engine puts out a decent 110HP and a beefy 245 Nm of torque which is a great improvement over the quite frankly underpowered 1.6 L petrol model. The 4WD Duster has a rotary dial that allows you to shift to 4WD at speeds up to 50Km/h on the fly as well as enabling you to lock the center diff when the going gets tough.
On the inside, the Duster retains the rugged spartan look of the outgoing model with loads of cup holders and storage spaces but throws in a new instrument cluster, steering mounted audio controls and a new center console with a bigger 7” touch screen. The new Duster has a whole raft of new electronic driver aids with parking sensors, cruise control with a speed limiter and a reverse camera with guide lines now available. The new 7″ multimedia system powers 4 speakers (the previous model only had 2 front speakers) and has Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, USB and Aux in ports. They also managed to throw in an anti-pinch system for the auto windows and auto Air con, which is a lot for the price Renault is selling the car at.
On the safety side the new Duster sports ABS, EBD with Brake Assist, Dual Airbags, ESP & Hill start assist as well as front driver and passenger airbags. The new Duster is available for roughly Shs. 3.2 Million. Renault like many other local dealers prices its cars in Euros in Kenya which is nonsense I will not entertain by repeating that number Hapa Kenya 🙂 Financing is available via a list of banks Renault has a relationship with which is available on request.
The Duster is Renault's best selling model globally and should do pretty well here as well.
On to the Kadjar, which is bigger than the Qashqai (I still insist on kicking a fuss). More luggage room to be specific.
First things first. It is a really beautiful car. The one I had the pleasure of experiencing was finished in a stunning Flame Red metallic paint and had a full length panoramic sunroof.
Lakini this car looks good. #RenaultEcoChallenge #Kadjar #StartLiving pic.twitter.com/lKgPbh4SfD
— igiriwM@ 🇰🇪 (@Mwirigi) February 9, 2017
Renault's marketing material speaks of “C Shaped LED lights, fluid lines, a distinctive grille and an athletic shape”. All I can say is yenyewe, it looks good. The only other crossover that looks anywhere near as good as this would be the Mazda CX-3. The Kadjar is a very welcome shift from the sea of bland boxes roaming the streets.
Let's start with the name, “Kadjar”, according to Cécile Mandonnet-Dupic, who's in charge of Renault's vehicle naming strategy.
“Like the vehicle itself, the name Kadjar expresses the Renault personality, with the promise of a rewarding, motivational, energetic, outgoing lifestyle. The name is pleasing to the ear; it sounds solid and reassuring, consistent with the crossover's emphasis on robustness.”
One thing I have to give Renault is they pay attention to detail. Even before you get in to the car, you have they “key” in hand, in your bag or pocket, with you everywhere you go.
The key for the @RenaultKenya Kadjar #RenaultEcoChallenge #StartLiving pic.twitter.com/bUR88P03dP
— igiriwM@ 🇰🇪 (@Mwirigi) February 9, 2017
The Kadjar comes with a remote keycard, that in addition to unlocking and starting the car, can switch on the lights to help you find your car in a large parking lot at night or illuminate the path to the door of your house after you have left the car. On the inside the Kadjar sports the great 7″ touch screen R-LINK 2 Live multimedia system including satellite navigation that works in Kenya. Other tech includes the Visio System with Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and automatic high/low beam.
SatNav that works!!! #RenaultEcoChallenge #Kadjar #StartLiving pic.twitter.com/XWuJeEOPbM
— igiriwM@ 🇰🇪 (@Mwirigi) February 9, 2017
One of the more interesting features the Kadjar has is hand free parking
Hands Free Parking in the Renault Kadjar pic.twitter.com/1ya5eIY0kW
— igiriwM@ 🇰🇪 (@Mwirigi) February 10, 2017
The Kadjar is available in four wheel drive and is powered by a 1.6L Turbo Diesel that puts out a decent 130HP and 320 Nm of torque. It is pretty frugal too, with a claimed 27Km/l (65.7mpg). It is available with Renault's Efficient Dual Clutch automatic transmission or s a 6 speed manual.
The Kadjar will retail at around Ksh. 4.8 million.
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