Renault’s re-skinned Nissan X-Trail continues to trundle along as a safe bet for families, but its naturally aspirated petrol engine is lack lustre in a room full of SUV rivals with sporty aspirations.
The French brand’s second-generation Koleos brings more interior space and practicality than it did before - particularly noticeable in its mid-size SUV segment – and the addition of a turbo diesel with better pulling power might just boost sales and let families make the most of its good load-carrying ability.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $46,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 130kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo 4cyl diesel | CVT
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.1 l/100km | Tested: 7.3 l/100km
The Koleos on test is powered by the model’s newly-introduced 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. But rather than develop a new engine Renault borrowed one from the X-Trail, which is a logical choice given both manufactures are tied up in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
The new motor comes to the table with 130kW and 380Nm that sees an increase of 4kW of power and 156Nm of torque over the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol, which is a bit of a slouch. Fuel consumption is also better, down from 8.3L/100km to 6.1L/100km.
However, the oiler is only available in one model grade – the top-spec Intens with all-wheel drive – and it costs an additional $2500 over the petrol powerplant.
But the Intens is loaded with a fair amount of good kit, including most safety assists expected at this point, and offers comparably good value.
Standard inclusions are 18-inch alloys, leather trim, Bose sound system, heated and ventilated electric seats, panoramic sunroof, 8.4-inch infotainment screen with navigation, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and parking assist. It misses out on radar cruise, however, which is standard on most rivals at this price point.
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, dual-zone air conditioning, third-row ventilation, wood-look trim, lane keeping assist, five seats, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.4-inch portrait-oriented colour touchscreen, 12-speaker Bose sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Aux and USB input, satellite navigation
- Cargo Volume: 458 litres to rear seats, 1690 litres to first row
Inside is a spacious cabin that makes the most of its size and around back the 458 litre boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, offers a deep loading bay that’s perfect for young families with plenty of gear to haul. With all the seats down, the space grows to very capacious 1690 litres.
The second row seats are also surrounded by a comfortable amount of leg and head space and it is in terms of interior space that the Koleos has an advantage over some of the leading rivals it goes up against. Adults won’t pine for room and long trips are easy and there’s also plenty of storage bins and pockets to throw gear and setup for a long trip.
The leather trim is comfortable too, but the seat support isn’t tremendous and bolstering could be better.
Beyond room, the Koleos shows off its unique interior flair inside but it isn’t for everyone. Most noticeable upfront is the large portrait-oriented 8.4-inch display that is the base for the infotainment as well as the dual-zone climate controls. Some inputs, such as temperature and defrost, can be quickly changed via the small array of individual buttons but most settings such as air conditioning and ventilation requires diving through the touch screen when driving which can be a distraction.
The infotainment is hooked up to a good sounding 12-speaker Bose sound system that offers a punchy soundtrack but the mobile device interface can be clunky and gets confused when connected to a mobile device via both Bluetooth and the USB port.
The steering wheel controls are also mounted on the back rather than front of the wheel and can be a bit fiddly to get used to but are easy to navigate.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel four-cylinder, 130kW @ 3750rpm, 380Nm @ 2000rpm
- Transmission: Constantly variable transmission, all wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: 320mm vented front discs, 305mm solid rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering, 11.4m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1650kg braked, 750kg unbraked, 100kg towball load
With a high driving position and good vision from the B-pillars forwards the Koleos has most of driver traits an SUV buyer is after. The rear half of the car isn’t as easy to see out of but front and rear parking sensors and a rear vision camera make life easy, despite the lack of a 360-degree birds-eye camera offered on its step-sibling X-Trail.
The diesel engine also adds some extra oomph that’s lacking in the petrol model and there’s more power higher up the rev range when needed, however, it still feels a bit lazy down low and remains slow off the line when taking off.
The CVT transmission isn’t the best pairing either though it’s not noisy and doesn’t feel overwhelmed until pushed. Compared to the petrol, the diesel is a step up, and a better match to the French family car’s large proportions and corresponding 1743kg heft.
But despite its size and weight, it’s not unwieldy to steer, and has a sure-footed composure with communicative steering that turns accurately while remaining light in feel for easy city driving. The trade-off for a confident and stable ride is it can be too firm on rough spots of road despite the 18-inch alloy’s being dressed in more forgiving 225/60 rubber, but it’s generally well behaved.
The all-wheel drive system works well in wet conditions and can be manually switched between either two-wheel or all-wheel drive, providing the opportunity to make the most of better fuel savings, and we returned a combined fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km, close to the maker’s claims.
ANCAP Rating: N/A - the second-generation Renault Koleos has not been rated by ANCAP yet.
Safety Features: The Koleos features autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, automatic dimming headlights and parking assistant. Other standard features include six airbags (dual front, front seat side, curtain for first and second row), front load-limiting seatbelt pretensioners, ABS brakes and electronic stability and traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: 12 months or 30,000km, whichever comes first, capped at $299 per visit with five years roadside assistance.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Koleos is two generations deep in a segment that is filled with and continues to gain plenty of competitors. Most of those carry good recommendations too, such as the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda CR-V. But it’s only the later which can compete with the Renault for space, with most others suffering for boot and second-row room - a common theme in the small to mid-size SUV segment.
Dynamically though, the Tiguan and CX-5 have a calmer ride, and the two are well equipped inside with nicer though more conservative design details. Their diesel drivetrains are also smoother in all conditions and available in either front or all-wheel drive layout.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While it continues to trickle along for sale the Koleos flies under the radar as something a little different inside with better space than most. The asking price of the Intens model may put off some which is a pity, given the diesel engine adds a better ride and isn’t much more than the equivalent petrol variant.
With the many fish in the SUV sea finding the right fit is hard, but a relatively large interior and grunty engine makes the diesel-powered Koleos a happy family hauler.
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