Sweltering in a plastic bubble in the middle of the Bardenas Desert I listen to the Renault Kadjar press conference, sitting here mesmerised by the outstanding beauty of the Aire de Bardenas, our hospitality for the next couple of days.
Approximately many many kilometres from the sea I question what I am doing to be in the middle of nowhere. It is the Renault Kadjar that in fact has the vocabulary of being Outward Bound and along with an athletic attitude of the design, and the significantly newly planned running LED lights, allows me to understand the synergy of the rough terrain I am sat within.
The Kadjar roof has a large glass ceiling perfect for night time star gazing and provides a flood lit cockpit during the day time. I am also sitting here in a plastic pod with an equally clear ceiling, under the glorious sunshine. Once again I am reminded the reasons for the Renault Kadjar to be in the Bardenas desert.
Even my hotel room is one of these bubbles with that clear ceiling, everything involved with this trip is about the open space and letting your dreams venture into it. My pod, the bedroom, here in the desert has some very crafty aspects which made me quite appreciate life's little luxuries, the woodchip toilet for example: a wooden base featuring a toilet bowl, containing wood chippings, behind - in a normal position is the flushing cistern, only this contains more wood chippings with a shovel. Feeling less like a cat but more of a goddess of the wild, I enjoyed the simplicity of the portable hygiene (depending upon what I ate for dinner that evening of course).
However this wooden toilet seat was not the only clever aspect of my bubble hotel room. Getting into the bedroom one must first walk into the porch area through opening the exterior zip, once inside, the zip must be closed before walking further into the bedroom, as the chambers are air vacuumed. A clever aspect, then once you go into the bedroom you realise the air conditioning actually works. You feel like you are physically sleeping in the desert with the transparent roof which brings me back to the Kadjar (with both hotel bubble and car, there is an opaque roof cover when required).
Ingenuity doesn't end there, the Pod is well equipped with Wi-Fi, electric and water all decorated so simply along with ecologically organic toiletries - not surprising really when there is, in the middle of a desert, a wind farm surrounding us. This cross-over Kadjar too has some creative technical specifics such as the retractable tow bar, new braking system, allowing a safe distance of stop along with a speed limiter system and a camera spotting those road signs and repeaters. In conjunction with the speed limiter, self-parking is another new aspect of this car, with reverse parking, something being introduced to many a car at the moment, the Kadjar does it splendidly.
A significant aspect when looking at this well implemented four-wheel-drive is that is has four valuable storage compartments with three variable solutions holding 30 litres of personal storage, bringing this vehicle significantly into the all-encompassing family vehicle for both holiday and long haul business trips. Equally one can certainly swing a cat in these pods.
Driving the Kadjar off road through the Bardenas Desert, full of natural beauty (where spaghetti westerns have been filmed), I got to feel the secure handling of the TCe 130 16 valve direct injection turbocharged unit first introduced in the Megane, delivering an instantaneous response. With Co2 emissions from 126g/km and delivering 40mpg in urban use with a 6 speed manual gearbox. The dCi 110 engine (6 speed manual and EDC gearboxes) develops 110hp at 4000rpm and has a gearbox fuel economy of 74mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Driving both allowed me to see the full capabilities of the Kadjar.
The Bardenas desert is the largest desert in Europe bordering mediaeval long lost kingdoms where working shepherds and smugglers needed refuge amongst the craggy mounds. It is a place where the moon visits every 29 days and holds a wonderful light (especially for my lens). Low rainfall makes the arid landscape dramatic, as it is whilst the wind comes from the north east and breathes on the hotel every day, all contributing to the name Hotel Aire De Bardenas. When Renault approached the hotel to implement a further 20 rooms on to the cubic shelters already there, they decided on the unique transparent pods to be facing out to the distant wind farms and the desert.
The delicious sun setting amongst the sky clear of clouds with the light slowly turning from blue to pink to orange, allowing the gentle nod of the visiting moon that appeared on the horizon in between those windfarms, rising above the mountain with a full face permanently fixed on me with a smile, a moment I will savour amongst many. The sun rose again in the morning evoking a memory for some time indeed amongst that dry land, desolate and cinematic. The Renault Kadjar drive amongst the desert-scape, was a far cry from my arrival the previous day, (hot and depleted). I left refreshed and ready to take on the world in the Kadjar.
Thank you Natalie at the Hotel Aire De Bardenas for creating the tranquillity that put me in good stead for at least a week. When can I return please?
(Photos by Lara Platman)