YOU don’t have to speak a word of French to appreciate the language. Lyrical and sensuous, no other tongue can beat it on sound alone. So I have to admit to some slight dismay over the name of Renault’s stylish, new, mid-size SUV (sports utility vehicle) crossover, the Kadjar.

Apparently it’s a made-up word, with Kad- from the word ‘quad’ (as in four wheels), and -jar referencing the French word ‘jaillir’, to be agile.

Does it work? Well, not for me. But there was very little else to be disappointed about – just the opposite in fact – in the French company’s latest offering in this fast-growing genre, as I found out on a week-long road test.

The Kadjar is based on the same platform as the Nissan Qashqai. With bold exterior lines and a high-quality interior it takes on the likes of that highly-popular model, the Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Yeti. The Kadjar is the big brother of the Captur crossover, based on the Clio, and boasts a well-equipped range from the entry-level Expression+ to the equipment-fest that is the Signature Nav.

Our test car, a Dynamique S Nav dCi 110, sported lots of splendid kit, including automatic dual zone climate control, automatic function for headlights, and windscreen wipers, cornering lights electrically adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, multi-media system with touchscreen and satnav, cruise control, speed limiter, tyre pressure monitoring system, front centre armrest.

On the practicality front, features include a one-touch folding system for the 60/40-split rear seat-back, giving a flat boot floor. Fold all the seats down and total load volume is 1,478 litres.

Both inside and outside, the Kadjar feels well-built and looks impressive, with a bold front end treatment, crowned by a big Renault diamond logo and striking swept-back headlights, while 19in diamond-cut alloy wheels also help the car stand out.

The experience of being on the road is rewarding.

I enjoyed the commanding view from the driver’s seat, while the four-cylinder turbo-charged 1.5-litre diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, provided smooth power. Manufacturer’s figures are 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds and a top speed of 113mph, while returning 72.4mpg on the combined cycle. Robust, well put together, comfortable and comprehensively equipped, the Kadjar offers a winning mix of quality, desirability and practicality. Price: £23,015.

First published February 12, 2016