After eight years on the market, Renault has finally retired its first-generation Renault Koleos and replaced it with an all-new model. Based on the Nissan X-Trail’s underpinnings (Nissan and Renault share much of their technology through their corporate alliance), the new Koleos is bigger both inside and out, not to mention specced higher than its predecessor.
Prices start at $29,990 for the base model front-drive-only Koleos Life, rising to $33,990 for the mid-spec Koleos Zen FWD and $36,490 for the Koleos Zen AWD, then topping out at $43,490 for the top-grade Koleos Intens AWD.
A naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol inline four powers the full range with a CVT automatic being the only transmission option. With 126kW and 226Nm it makes the same amount of power and torque as the outgoing Koleos petrol, but if that’s not enough for you then wait until mid-2017, when a turbo diesel engine will be added to the range.
- French flair: While its Nissan X-Trail cousin is saddled with drab styling, the Koleos possesses significantly more visual panache thanks to distinctive headlamp and tail lamp treatments and an interior design that boasts a pronounced European flavour. Features like a roller shutter to hide the cupholders and a high-resolution colour TFT instrument panel are nice touches.
- Surefooted handling, both on and off paved roads: the Koleos shrugs off potholes and big lumps with ease, and handles its weight well in corners. Its Nexen tyres aren’t the grippiest around, but they work well in regular driving conditions. The ride can feel a touch fidgety on smaller bumps and corrugations, but otherwise the Koleos has a comfortable and capable suspension tune.
- Roomy interior: Even six-footer adults will find enough space in the second row, with plenty of leg, head and knee room available.
- Sizable luggage area: Boot space has grown slightly with the new-generation Koleos, with 458 litres of seats-up luggage capacity (an increase of eight litres) and a total of 1690 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down and cargo stacked to the roofliner (310 litres more than before).
- Sharp pricing: Even when lined up against the Nissan X-Trail that it’s based upon, the new Koleos is a cracking deal. Ignore the $27,990 X-Trail ST base model – the true rival for the most affordable Koleos variant (the $29,990 Koleos Life) is the $30,490 X-Trail ST 2.5 litre automatic, and the Koleos has more standard equipment. At the top end, the $43,490 Koleos Intens costs thousands less than similarly-specced rivals like the Mazda CX-5 Akera, Honda CR-V VTi-L ADAS and Hyundai Tucson Highlander.
- Top-end features: The flagship Koleos Intens packs plenty of gear for the money, with a panoramic glass sunroof, 8.7-inch tablet-style touchscreen infotainment display, heated and cooled seats, a Bose premium audio system, AEB, park assist and a power tailgate all standard equipment.
- Quality is improved, but still could be better. There are plenty of hard, scratchy plastics even on the range-topping Intens grade (most of them on the lower dash and centre console). Our test drive also revealed some rattly plastics in the boot area that spoiled the ambience.
- No smartphone mirroring: this won’t be a deal-breaker for most people given satellite navigation is standard on all models, but tech-heads who like to integrate their smartphone’s interface and features with their car may wish the Koleos had that capability – especially as it’s fast becoming standard equipment in many mainstream cars.
- Weak powertrain/drivetrain combination: The Koleos’ 2.5-litre engine isn’t the most muscular engine in its segment, and it’s weakened further by the CVT automatic that’s the sole transmission available. On steep and winding roads it tends to hunt around a lot as it searches for the right ratio, with the engine making plenty of noise in the process.
- Unsupportive front seats: the front seat bases may be adjustable, but there’s not enough variability in tilt angle to give decent under-thigh support.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Plenty. The medium SUV segment is hugely competitive and heavily populated, with current segment leaders including the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4. There’s also the Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and Nissan X-Trail to consider as well, and all are worthy of consideration.