Renault Kadjar vs Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai vs Skoda Yeti, quick group test, CAR+ January 2016

Published: 02 December 2015

► New Renault Kadjar takes on its crossover peers
► But can Kadjar topple Qashqai, Tucson and Yeti?
► It's CAR's warts 'n' all quadruple SUV mega-test 

What’s the word about this crossover?

Hyundai Tucson - Now back to being called a Tucson, after sounding like a Cold War weapon for a while, the ix35 replacement is a big crossover in all respects – longer and wider than the competition, and playing the ‘value’ card. Is it more aspirational than just cheap caravan-towing fodder though?

Nissan Qashqai - Officially Invented The Crossover Market, if you ignore the Matra Rancho among others, the Qashqai is the go-to family car for those who find an MPV a step too depressing, or have a Government-funded disability. Second gen is less a hatchback on big tyres, and more an SUV.

Skoda Yeti - Ageing yet faithful Yeti is a car nobody could hate, and retains that workmanlike appeal which says its owner isn’t some fancy-dan crossover merchant on their way up the ladder to premium-brand glory. It’s a car you need, more than a car you desire.

Renault Kadjar - What do you mean it’s about time Renault did a crossover? Koleos, Avantime, Vel Satis – masters of the crossing-over genre. Is Spanish-built Kadjar’s biggest problem that it has none of the virtuso thinking of those cars, and just follows the template of the Qashqai donor car? Umm….

Distinctive? It doesn’t even stand out in  this picture

Beautiful, bland or bleurgh?

Hyundai Tucson - In a bid to give it more presence than the forgettable ix35, Hyundai has given it a grille so aggressive it may have come straight off some industrial abbatoir cow-slicing machine. Elsewhere it’s back to forgettable, and a bit fat-arsed.

Nissan Qashqai - Curvy for a big unit, with a large muscular, manly bonnet that says ‘I only go to the garden centre when I’m not on special forces ops’ and raked C-pillar is dashing too. Drab and plasticky front grille lets it down.

Skoda Yeti - Small box glued to big box, with some Outdoor-spec tin foil stuck on it, and lines straighter than a coke fiend with OCD. All the sophistication of a closing-down sale in Millets, it’s fleece lined motoring wear for middle-aged ramblers. 

Renault Kadjar - You really wouldn’t know it was a Qashqai, with its beakier nose, canted window line and attractively chunky Clio-like rear. Add in those fabulous dialled alloys and the Kadjar is a good-looking SUV that’s elegant, not aggressive.

‘I’ll have 1.2 million please. Yours,  Europe’

A cornucopia of gadgets and widgets?

Hyundai Tucson - It certainly looks like it comes kitted, because there are lots of buttons. Everywhere. One for hill-descent, an odd inclusion on two-wheel drive, but other buttons heat up leather seats, stabilise trailers, keep lanes and control climate. 

Nissan Qashqai - In the spirit of being the only one we could get, high-spec Tekna comes loaded with everything, including Nissan Safety Shield, heated leather and windscreen, cruise and a rear-view camera that’s so blurry you wonder if last night’s booze has entirely worn off. Not 4wd, despite price.

Skoda Yeti - Four-wheel drive – unlike the rest – and useful bits of springy elastic and plastic clips all over the place to hold wordsearch books, binoculars and Thermos flasks full of milky coffee. Privacy glass is a surprisingly cheeky addition – oooh, Margaret!

Renault Kadjar - Confusingly titled Dynamique S Nav has dual-zone climate, part leather, R-Link, Arkamys sound system. And navigation. Comes with a key like a small box of travel mints, and continues Renault’s fine history of easily lost fobs. But it is bloody cheap for what you get. 

The snowman was abominable.  This isn’t

Swallows a family or just spits them out?

Hyundai Tucson - Lots of room in the Tucson, with hard, easy clean surfaces and a big boot with low sill too. For those in need of a crossover which genuinely crosses over between family life and mucking out the nags, this is a tough old nut with a softer side.

Nissan Qashqai - Clever anti-muddy-trouser door seals and usefully large multi-floored boot make the Qashqai the consummate family carrier. Lots of swoopy space inside too, although the materials it is made of don’t feel the highest quality. Proven to last though.

Skoda Yeti - Unsurprisingly the external square box theme results in a cabin of boxy, unencumbered proportions, which despite its smaller overall size frees up lots of space: 200 litres more volume than the Qashqai. So utilitarian, the cabin can probably be tumble-dried.

Renault Kadjar - Handily nicking Nissan’s floor/shelf boot storage, but those with expensive trousers who swap out of a Qashqai will notice them getting muddy in here. Also, doors clang shut, handles wobble and seats have the structural integrity of a choux bun. Mackems 1, Spain 0.

Who let elegance in here?

Love handling, or pitiful wallowing?

Hyundai Tucson - Probably the most sorted chassis here, with smooth travel and contained body roll. Against that is an engine which veers between refined and raucous at all sorts of speeds. Find a quiet one, keep lugging the caravan at that.

Nissan Qashqai - Possibly to give a forlorn impression of sportiness, the Qashqai is firmly sprung. Annoyingly so. Thin steering wheel with light feel and an engine that roars its displeasure at revving soon confirm your lot in life.

Skoda Yeti - The 2.0 TDI has had a hike from 140bhp to 150 and is most powerful here. Otherwise drives with usual VW Group traits: noisy engine, snatchy brakes, precise steering and gearshift, faint feeling you’ve been done over…

Renault Kadjar - Maybe the choux pastry seats accentuate it, but the Kadjar rides more softly than the Qasqhai and rolls more too. Better for family travel? 110 engine is smoother, and the dial that colours in as the revs rise is cool.

More buttons than a Cinderella audition

Overpriced or undervalued?

Hyundai Tucson - Hyundais have got pricier over the years, but not due to delusions of grandeur. Price compares with the Kadjar, but with more useful kit for outdoorsy types. Genuine all-round crossover, but for urban buyers not pretty enough.

Nissan Qashqai - Ever been slapped in the face with a wet haddock while waiting at a bus queue? No? Well, this has the same effect: £27,080! Started de-speccing and got to £25k with a 1.5 dCi 110 Tekna. Better value? Look right at the Renault…

Skoda Yeti - A shocking turn of events finds the Yeti costing nearly £25k. While you get more power, leather and 4wd, it seems unjustifiable for a Skoda. Delete 4x4, buy winter tyres, drop 40bhp and it would be three grand less.

Renault Kadjar - Renault must be paying the Spanish two bangers and a whizzer to build this: prices are an absolute steal. Much cheaper than equivalent Qashqai, and even throwing cash about only gets you just above £26k.

Despite Qashqai sales, the new Renault Kadjar takes the CAR crown

Verdict

Hyundai Tucson - An honest grafter, if you need something with a wider range of talents than most, the Tucson is a good choice. And if you want to scare cows too.

Nissan Qashqai - Still doing the job, and a fine car. However, Nissan probably feeling a bit like Dave when Ed sneaked in and nicked his number one spot.

Skoda Yeti - A stalwart, but not an especially inspiring one any more, and even in fancy spec it feels Spartan and austere compared to the others.

Renault Kadjar - Easily the best car here. Looks, price, quality, refinement, pastry seats, easy-to-lose keys – the Kadjar has the lot. Not the new Koleos. Phew.

More buttons than a Cinderella audition

Hyundai Tucson SE Nav 1.7 CRDi

Price: £22,795 
Engine: 1685cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 114bhp @ 4000rpm, 207lb ft @ 1250rpm 
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
Performance: 13.7sec 0-62mph, 109mph, 61.7mpg, 119g/km CO2 
Weight: 1580kg 
On sale: Now
Rating: ***

More leathery than Keith Richards’ mush

Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi Tekna 130

Price: £27,080 
Engine: 1598cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 127bhp @ 4000rpm, 236lb ft @ 1750rpm 
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
Performance: 9.9sec 0-62mph, 118mph, 61.4mpg, 120g/km CO2 
Weight: 1419kg
On sale: Now
Rating: ***

More boxy than a shoeshop storeroom

Skoda Yeti Outdoor SE L 2.0 TDI 150 4x4

Price: £24,620 
Engine: 1968cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 147bhp @ 3500rpm, 251lb ft @ 1750rpm 
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive 
Performance: 9.1sec 0-62mph, 121mph, 55.4mpg, 134g/km CO2  
Weight: 1490kg 
On sale: Now
Rating: ***

More cheap than… hang on, has anyone seen my key fob?

Renault Kadjar Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 (winner)

Price: £22,395 
Engine: 1461cc 8v turbo 4-cyl, 108bhp @ 4000rpm, 255lb ft @ 1750rpm 
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive 
Performance: 11.9sec 0-62mph, 113mph, 72.4mpg, 103g/km CO2 
Weight: 1394kg 
On sale: Now
Rating: ****

By Steve Moody

Contributing editor, adventurer, ideas pitcher, failed grower-upper

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