Renault Koleos First Drive
What is it?
A part French, part Japanese and part South Korean all-new mid-sized SUV. Renault's new Koleos wears a French badge, shares parts with its Nissan X-Trail cousin and is assembled in South Korea.
This medium SUV is very important for Renault Australia – so important, that Australia is the first market in the world to launch it.
What are its rivals?
As a mid-sized SUV, the Koleos competes against models such as the Toyota Rav4, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and the Volkswagen Tiguan (an all-new model is due soon).
Nissan and Renault?
Yes, Renault and Nissan have had an alliance for decades and the Koleos shares the X-Trail's common family module (CFM) platform, engine and transmission as well as some sheet metal. The Koleos is, however, longer, wider and taller than the X- Trail. Renault did impress upon us, however, that the Koleos is significantly different from the X-Trail and, based on first impressions, it's not hard to see why. The Koleos is better in almost every respect than the three-year-old Nissan.
What models are there?
Life, Zen and Intens. Yes, you read right – Life, Zen and Intens, without the 'e'. Very strange naming, but let's not forget the all-new Koleos wears a French badge, so quirky is part of the package.
What gear does it get?
Life models are priced from $29,990 plus on-road costs. Standard features include a seven-inch touchscreen, a rear camera and rear sensors, cloth trim, dual-zone climate control, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels and a full sized steel spare.
Zen models start from $33,990 (plus ORCs) and some of the extras to make you feel more "relaxed" include faux leather trim, heated front seats with electric driver's seat adjustment, an electronic parking brake, keyless start, rear privacy glass, sat nav and 18-inch alloy wheels. For an extra $2500 you can add all-wheel-drive, while a sunroof will add $1990 (it does impinge on head space, so check it out before you tick that box) and a safety pack (with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot warning and forward collision warning) costs $1490.
The AWD-only Intens models cost from $43,490 (plus ORCs) further add an 8.7-inch touchscreen – a benchmark system within this class that also includes a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system and USB points front and rear. Other goodies include a self-parking system, side parking sensors, an electric tailgate (hands free), LED headlights, real leather trim with ventilated front seats and the abovementioned safety pack.
It looks French … sort of
On the outside, there are some commonalities with the current Koleos (the door handles and roof rails carry over) but the rest of the design is all-new. From all angles, the new Renault is a good looking SUV. While the design is more mainstream, Renault appears to have struck the right balance between French flair and a more traditional SUV design. There's enough uniqueness to set it apart (although it does look like it belongs in the Volkswagen family from the side) but not too much to polarise buyers like the previous model.
How about inside?
This is where the Koleos shines. Renault says cabin space is class-leading and there is certainly good leg, head and knee room front and rear. The raised middle seat in the rear pew is, however, only good for short journeys, so the Koleos is really a comfortable four-seater.
There are dual rear air vents, dual USB charging ports (Intens) and rear seat nets to keep things off the floor. The rear centre armrest also features cup holders. The boot is 458 litres and features a removable floor. All models have one-touch easy folding rear seat system with handles located inside the boot to enable the 60/40-split rear bench seat to be folded. Space grows up to 1690 litres with the rear seats folded. There are 35 litres of additional storage, including an 11-litre glove box and a five-litre cubby in the centre console.
Perfect for older buyers, as well as families that need to get child seats in and out, are the large opening doors. The doors open to angles of 70 and 77 degrees at the front and rear respectively, which is amongst the best in class.
The powered tailgate (Intens model only) can be opened and closed by waving a foot beneath the bumper, as long as the key is within close proximity. A clever feature is that you can customise the height the tailgate opens too if, for example, you have a low garage roof height.
What tech has it got?
The R-Link 2 system is impressive and so easy to use – you swipe, pinch and tap through key functions just like a smartphone and the level of customisation is a real strong point. You can even change the volume of the indicators! The screen controls the car's heating, navigation and infotainment controls, but oddly there is no option for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It's disappointing though that the Life and Zen models don't get the large touchscreen even as an option. It elevates the interior to a level that benchmarks the class.
The Koleos also features remote engine start that allows the driver to heat and cool the cabin before they get in the car using the key fob. It can even be pre-programmed so it will automatically activate at the same time each day.
What's it like to drive?
Under the bonnet of the new Koleos is Nissan's 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that sips 8.1L/100km on the combined cycle. The engine is noisy, and combined with the drone of the CVT, is quite intrusive into the cabin, especially under harsh acceleration and going up hills. A diesel is on the way, but not till mid next year.
On the winding roads in Coffs Harbour, the Koleos showed its dynamic strengths. The steering is well weighted and the Koleos felt confident and composed on a variety of challenging stretches. There is minimal body roll and we only heard one peep out of the Nexen tyres during spirited driving.
How about off the beaten track?
The dirt section showed how composed the Koleos is on rough terrain. It uses the family AWD system that can be adjusted by pressing a switch on the dash to switch between 4X2 and 4X4 modes. The latter splits torque between the front and rear wheels. There is also a 4WD lock features that, at low speed in low-grip conditions, allows the driver to select permanent all-wheel drive, active up to 40km/h. The 210mm of ground clearance wheel allows reasonable off-road ability.
The dirt sections did highlight that the stability control system is not as sophisticated as that of some rivals. Rather than re-distributing power, it takes it away from under your right foot and, oddly, doesn't show any light on the dash when it does it.
The new Koleos sounds really good … are there negatives?
Well, actually it's sound where the Koleos falls down. Cabin noise. In the Koleos it's intrusive and comes in many forms – drivetrain (engine/transmission), wind (windscreen and mirrors) and road (tyre and suspension noise) all affect passenger comfort. It's a shame, as this detracts from the otherwise premium feel of the cabin when on the move. The dirt section also produced rattles – one around the A-pillar on the passenger side, the glovebox lid, and another around the B-pillar on the driver's side.
Should I consider one?
The all-new Koleos is a massive leap forward from the previous model and, in most areas, scores at the upper end of the class. If you can live with the noise intrusion (it is a pet hate of this road tester, after all) then the new Koleos is worth taking for a test drive.
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|Pros||Class leading interior space
Good off road manners
Easy to get in and out of
Large touchscreen only on Intens model
Advanced safety only standard on Intens
Diesel not available till mid next year.Noise intrusion
|Country of manufacture||South Korea|
|Priced from||$29,990 (plus on road costs)|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2.5 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||126 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||226 Nm @ 4400 rpm|
|Claimed fuel consumption||8.1 L/100km|
|CO2 Emissions||188 g/km|
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