Australian families are set to play a key role in the global success of Renault's second-generation Koleos.
The French car maker sees the competitive nature of the compact SUV segment as a barometer for the Koleos' appeal, potentially seeing Australia as it is most popular market.
The good news is the second-generation Koleos - which shares its underpinnings and driveline with the Nissan X-Trail - ticks a lot of the key consumer demands to succeed; it is larger than its predecessor, boasts handsome French styling, a standout interior, and very sharp prices.
So is the Koleos good enough to be shopped against the class-leading Japanese and Korean rivals?
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $33,990 plus on-road charges
Engine/trans: 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.1l/100kms | Tested: 9.1l/100kms
While the previous generation Renault Koleos was one of the smaller medium SUVs, thanks to its alignment with the Nissan X-Trail (available as a seven-seater), the all-new five-seat Renault Koleos is actually one of the largest.
That ensures it delivers impressive space in an interior which is at the top of the popular medium SUV totem pole for style and material quality.
TMR got behind the wheel of the mid-grade Renault Koleos Zen 4x2 ($33,990 plus on-road charges) which Renault beleives will be the best-selling variant.
- Standard Features: Artificial leather seats (fronts heated and electrically-adjustable), remote central locking with smart key card, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera.
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen, R-link 2 multimedia system, voice control, customizable home screen, 8-speaker Aykamys audio, 2 USB ports, satellite navigation.
- Cargo Volume: 458-litres (rear seat in-place), 1690-litres (rear seat folded flat)
No question about it, the Renault Koleos interior presents an upmarket look and feel which leaves some rivals looking stylistically challenged.
And there’s plenty of goodies and technology including Renault’s excellent R-Link 2 multimedia system - with a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen which uses smartphone-like functionality including pinch and swipe operation - and modern graphics for the instruments.
The TMR teenagers particularly liked adjusting the colours of the ambient interior lighting but your correspondent would have preferred, for example, adaptive cruise control... if you can tap the ‘tech’ guys on their shoulders to install varying lighting colours, it shouldn’t be asking too much for adaptive cruise.
And don’t look for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto - also not available.
But there is plenty of family-friendly space - an extra 300mm of rear seat leg-room compared to the superseded model and 458-litres of cargo space (tick the golf bag test!). Individual adjustable air-vents are also well-received by those in the rear.
Both driver and front seat passenger enjoy space and comfy seats (albeit a tad short on side bolstering) and the cockpit is very slick with a customizable seven-inch TFT screen replacing normal analogue gauges. Centre console sees two cupholders.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic, front-wheel-drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: 296mm ventilated front discs, 292mm solid rear discs
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.4m turning circle
Nissan’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, while no GT-R-like tyre-shredder, is a proven performer and is appropriately mated to the transmission which is definitely one of the better-performing CVTs (in fact a car-loving mate in the passenger seat didn’t pick it as a CVT even when going up some steep hills).
The Renault Koleos Zen rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and, as per the X-Trail, the MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension is well-sorted - refinement levels were generally good but we did detect a smidge more road and tyre noise on our ‘home’ test routes than we recall from our drives of a variety of Koleos models at the press launch based in Coffs Harbour, NSW.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Koleos is certainly on the same page as the segment’s best - nice feedback from the steering, precise turn-in (for a mid-size SUV), acceptable levels of pitch and body roll and nice balance in the twisty stuff.
Around town our Renault Koleos delivered sufficient zip to navigate the peak-hour freeway merge, offered good all-round visibility and parking maneuvers presented no challenges.
ANCAP Rating: The Renault Koleos has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Six airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist, reversing camera, stability and traction control. An optional safety pack ass interurban autonomous braking, blind-spot warning and forward collision warning.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometers with roadside assistance
Servicing: 30,000kms/12 months with condition-based servicing. Capped-price servicing is $299 for the first three scheduled services.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Mazda CX-5 dominates sales in this segment for two reasons - it’s good and across the four-model range prices and features are very sharp. But there’s no denying the current CX-5 is coming to the end of its model life and the Koleos has some more up-to-date inclusions.
Ford’s German-created Kuga would definitely be on our list. Ride and handling match the Mazda CX-5 for ‘Best-In-Class’ status, the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine packs a punch and we like the interior look, even if it is not quite as spacious as the Renault Koleos.
Hyundai’s new Tucson shows the influence of designer Peter Schreyer - it’s a good looker. But you’ll need the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine to match the Renault Koleos for output (mind you Hyundai’s seven-speed DSG transmission scores big points) and you’ll need to carefully cross-reference standard and optional equipment against the well-equipped Koleos.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
You can’t overestimate the differences Renault’s styling changes have brought to what is ostensibly the Nissan X-Trail.
It’s like Yves St Laurent versus Uniqlo - you can’t criticize either but the French version is... well, you know... French... joie de vivre and all that.
On the value-for-money front, to use football vernacular, the $33,990 Renault Koleos Zen definitely packs-down for the ‘A-Grade’ side.
Mix-in the high-standard driving dynamics and you must conclude Renault has a legitimate competitor in one of the new car market’s toughest leagues.
MORE: Renault News and Reviews
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