2012 RENAULT KOLEOS REVIEW
What’s Hot: Brilliant standard spec, comfortable ride
What’s Not: Value’s not so hot at the top
X-Factor: Surprising off-road capability, and French design flair
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV wagon
Price: $40,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.5 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.9 l/100km
Three years after its debut on the Australian market, Renault has nipped, tucked and reshaped its compact Koleos SUV to bring it in line with the range’s new corporate face.
It hasn’t set the world on fire here, but has always been a reasonable drive. With the new model, besides the new look, Renault has added more fruit to its quirky family car.
Quality: The interior features are excellent, if mildy driven by the need to be different. The dash, for example, has an organic wave to it, and the glovebox that sits beneath – while deep – could be bigger if not for the design detail.
A minor point, sure, but this is the essence of the French car – it’s style driven foremost; form doesn’t impede too harshly on function with Renault.
Standard leather broken up by carbon-fibre and aluminium trim highlights on the mid-spec Dynamique brings an added air of luxury, while its dark charcoal palette will be appreciated by young parents and active empty nesters: the Koleos’ core demographic.
Comfort: Le French bum must be much smaller than the average Australian’s; the front seats in particular are narrow under the leg and with little under-thigh support.
Combined with the ‘command’ driving position, it makes you feel as though you’re perched, like on a church pew, rather than ‘in’ the seats. In contrast, the shoulder and lateral support is quite wide.
On the plus side, the driver’s seat is electronically adjustable, and the rear seats, which have ample knee and ankle room, also feature seat backs with rake adjustment to allow a recline on long trips.
Equipment: Specification is very high across the Koleos range. Even the base 2WD, manual ‘Expression’ has standard sat-nav with an ergonomic toggle and ‘quick launch’ controls underneath the shift lever.
The mid-spec Dynamique gets 17-inch alloy wheels and a full-size alloy spare as standard, along with leather interior, cruise control, trip-computer, a decent Bose stereo, and in the 4x4, hill-descent control matched to the stability system to climb down loose slopes with ease.
Second row passengers get looked after with inbuilt window blinds, tray tables with a hole for drinks, and the option of a panoramic glass roof to open the space up even further.
Storage: The Koleos features Renault’s funky flat-floor boot/second row system, which flips the second row’s seat cushion into the footwell to allow the rear seat to fold completely flat. Activated from either the boot or the passenger sides, the feature is now standard.
There are deep cubbies under the second-row’s floor to stow valuables, and pockets in the armrests also let you slip things out of sight.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: To call it Dynamique is probably taking things a little too far; the Koleos is still a heavy, pushy car with loads of weight in the nose.
But it is an inoffensive drive, and handles both tarmac and flat dirt roads comfortably. Its hill-descent control, good torque and quite reasonable 4X4 capability, can get you further off the beaten track than with a lot of other light-duty SUVs.
The diesel is strong, offering 110kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm at 2000rpm through an on-demand or selectable 4x4 system. It doesn’t have the sprightly feel though of the VW group’s oilers.
However, the six-speed automatic is strong, the cruise control is excellent, every safety feature is included, and visibility is excellent.
Refinement: The 2.0dCi engine is only Euro VI, so will need an overhaul in the near future, but unlike the German competition (just mentioned), the engine does not make itself known nor felt through the firewall – cabin damping is simply excellent.
Suspension: Renault has revised the MacPherson independent set-up to offer a more even keel with less yaw and pitch.
‘Hoiking’ the car into a corner won’t result in the pig-squealing front push of old but it is still a far cry from the car-like handling of some of its German rivals, and indeed, Ford’s Territory.
It is still a very softly-sprung car, and the Continental tyres are not quite up to the mark. Handling generally though is improved over the boaty first-gen model.
Braking: Brakes, discs all round, are excellent, helped out by every bit of electronic assistance you can think of.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, front active headrests, Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, off-road tuned Electronic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, reverse parking sensors
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years with roadside assistance and unlimited kilometres (up from three years). This now applies to all Renault passenger cars.
Service costs: Check with your Renault dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
VW Tiguan103TDI ($38,490) - It sucks a litre less (per 100km) and is a beautiful drive, but you have to like the dual-clutch (DSG) gearbox, and leather is a very costly $4000 option. (see Tiguan reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The ‘right-sized’ Koleos 4x4 is a good choice for a family looking for some off-road ability, and don’t need to tow anything heavy.
It fits city streets comfortably, is very considerate of both kids and mums, and specification is very high.
However, in this segment of the market, the VW products are very impressive. But if you want something a little different, the Koleos is worth a close look.
With an expanding Renault dealer network and better resale thanks to a five-year warranty, it’s hard to argue against the Koleos’s value and spec equation.