HEADS TURNED WHEN THE COVERS CAME OFF RENAULT’S ALL-NEW KOLEOS MID-SIZE SUV AT THE BEIJING MOTOR SHOW EARLIER THIS YEAR.
That's because the smart newcomer was such a dramatic and stylish contrast with the car it was to replace, the previous generation Koleos.
To be fair, it was hardly a laggard on the sales front and more than 9000 have been sold in Australia since launch late in 2008.
But Renault says the all-new Koleos is not only good-looking, it’s now one of the longest mid-size SUVs with a wheelbase of 2705mm and overall length of 4672mm (also a major advance over the outgoing model which was one of the shortest).
The new Koleos sits on the Renault Nissan Alliance Common Module Family (CMF) chassis architecture which is shared with the stylish Espace, Talisman, and Kadjar overseas, as well as Nissan’s X-Trail and Qashqai.
Vehicle Style: Mid-size SUV
Price: $29,990 - $43,990
Engine/trans: 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.1 l/100kms (FWD), 8.3 l/100kms (AWD) | Tested: 10.0 l/100kms (Zen FWD), 8.2 l/100kms (Intens AWD)
Australia is the first market outside France to launch the all-new Koleos - Renault Australia says this highlights our importance in the global scheme of things.
Australian Renault dealers probably couldn’t give a stale baguette for "the global scheme", but they will surely know that sales of mid-size SUVs are booming right here in this market. And they'll be looking for a larger slice of the action.
This all-new contender, with muscular looks, spacious interior, extra luggage capacity, on-the-mark infotainment, plenty of technology and a simplified model range looks primed to draw plenty of showroom traffic.
In fact, Renault Australia chief Justin Hocevar says the all-new Koleos is certain to become the company’s best-selling model with expectations of retailing 200 Koleos’ per month (that’s around twice the monthly number of the outgoing model).
While the superseded Renault Koleos range included a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, for the all-new line-up that engine has been benched (it will be back in-play when available - next year and automatic transmission only).
So, for now, propulsion comes exclusively from an improved version of the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 126kW of power at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 226Nm at 4,400rpm.
Possibly only Renault fanatics will pick those figures are actually identical to the outgoing Koleos petrol model. But that’s not the end of the story and, in fact, for the updated 2.5-litre powerplant - with a higher compression ratio, reduced weight of components, and other changes - exhaust emissions and fuel consumption are down by around 10 percent.
On the outside, compared to its predecessor, the all-new Renault Koleos is 152mm longer overall and the wheelbase is 15mm longer, but height is down by 27mm.
Renault Australia has also simplified the nomenclature – adopting the international standards of an entry-level grade of ‘Life’ available exclusively as a front-wheel-drive (FWD), the mid-spec is called ‘Zen’ and it’s either FWD or all-wheel-drive (AWD) and the exclusively AWD range-topper carries the ‘Intens’ moniker.
- Life: Cloth seat trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cornering function fog lights, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Zen: (in addition to Life) artificial leather seat trim, heated front seats (electronic adjustment for driver including lumbar support), remote central locking with smart key card, rear privacy glass, 18-inch ‘Taranis’ alloy wheels
- Intens: (in addition to Zen) a choice of three colours for the leather seat trim (fronts heated/ventilated), ambient interior lighting, panoramic sunroof (electric), wood grain trim, rear USB charging ports, hands-free power tailgate, 18-inch ‘Argonaut’ two-tone alloy wheels, remote engine start,
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen, R-Link 2 multimedia system, voice control, customisable home screens, 8-speaker Arkamys audio, 2x USB ports, Aux-In (Life), satellite navigation (Zen, Intens), 8.7-inch capacitive screen and 12-speaker Bose audio with digital amplifier (Intens)
- Cargo Volume: 458-litres minimum, 1690-litres maximum
Renault’s exterior styling changes provide the Koleos with a markedly different look to the Nissan X-trail and it’s the same story inside.
The style and feel is distinctly up-market and, with 298mm of rear seat knee-room, Renault claims the Koleos matches its Nissan X-trail cousin for ‘best-in-class’ in that department. The all-new Koleos is also particularly generous in terms of head room, shoulder room and elbow room.
Add-in two versions of Renault’s ‘R-Link 2’ infotainment system (with either a seven-inch ‘landscape’ or an eight-inch ‘portrait’ screen) and a 12-speaker Bose audio for the top-specification model, and, of the current mid-size SUV field, the new Renault Koleos definitely sits at the sharp end for features and appointments.
There is a contemporary style and upscale feel about things and we particularly liked the combination of digital speedo and round rev-counter in the instrument binnacle.
Renault’s sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel is a definite plus and the infotainment screen (landscape or portrait depending on the model) looks slick and can be readily customised.
Spaciousness in the rear seat is a marked improvement over the outgoing Koleos and, with 35-litres of storage locations inside, there is plenty of carrying capacity for families.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic transmission, front and all-wheel-drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
Renault had no entry-grade Koleos Life models available for the national media launch in Coffs Harbour, so TMR got behind the wheel of both Zen and Intens variants during the extensive on and off-road drive program.
Both impressed with the combination of that 2.5-litre petrol engine and the Nissan Xtronic CVT auto. This is definitely one of the better CVTs (the usual CVT ‘buzz’ only really evident when accelerating up long hills) and is sweetly matched to the powerplant’s handy torque.
It is not at the head of the class for dynamism and performance - the CX-5 and Ford Kuga, for instance, both have a more lively and alert feel underfoot. But there is ample there for a quick burst when slotting into freeway traffic (with a noticeable intrusion of engine noise) or when overtaking.
We worked the Renault Koleos Zen hard over an extensive dirt road section, which accounts for its 10.1-litre fuel consumption, while our time in the AWD Intens included a fair bit of highway and freeway driving hence its impressive 8.2 l/100kms average.
Both are nicely refined with efficient suspension calibration ensuring a good ride and impressive handling. We expected the AWD Intens might have felt a bit firmer than the FWD Zen but differences are certainly not particularly noticeable (the Zen had a bit more immediacy on turn-in).
Part of that refinement story was impressively low levels of road and tyre noise, even on some of the poorer rural back roads we traversed.
Pressing on hard on the bitumen, both Renault Koleos models delivered plenty of grip but with a little body roll to remind you this is a mid-size SUV.
ANCAP Rating: The Renault Koleos has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety Features: All Koleos variants come standard with six airbags, rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control. The Intens adds blind-spot warning, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, interurban autonomous braking and side parking sensors. Zen models can be upgraded with an optional safety pack adding interurban autonomous braking, blind-spot warning and forward collision warning.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five-years/unlimited kilometers with roadside assistance
Servicing: Service intervals have increased to 30,000kms/12 months thanks to ‘condition-based’ servicing. Capped-price servicing is $299 for the first three scheduled services.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Ford Kuga is sharply priced from $27,990 and, thanks to its German pedigree, stamps a claim to being the best drivers’ car in this league. Step-up to the Trend or Titanium models and you score Ford’s 178kW/348Nm 2.0-litre engine.
Mazda CX-5 (from $27,190) sells in massive numbers and, like the Kuga, is a bit sharper in the driving dynamics than the Renault Koleos. Not quite the rear seat space and cargo capacity of the Renault however.
Kia Sportage (from $28,990) and Hyundai Tucson (from $28,590) should also be on your shopping list, as should be the Nissan X-Trail (from $30,490 for the 2.5-litre) which sits not too far under the skin of the new Koleos.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
No doubt about it, Renault has a good one here with the all-new Koleos.
Yes, it’s based on the Nissan X-Trail, but Renault’s stylists have imbued the French version with substantial styling changes inside and out, and differentiation is marked.
We like the interior of both the Zen and Intens versions we drove, but came away with a slight preference for the range-topping Intens with its high-grade leather and ‘portrait’ infotainment screen.
Families will give high marks for the spacious interior and those behind the wheel will enjoy the good dynamics and reasonably responsive 2.5-litre engine/CVT combo.
And, dig a bit deeper at the prices and you’ll discover the comprehensive standard feature list of the Renault Koleos underscores a strong value-for-money picture.
Add in classy looks and a definite 'presence' on road, and we think it's one you'll be very happy to take home.
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VISIT THE SHOWROOM: Renault Koleos - Prices, Features, and Specifications