It’s not often we see such a drastic shift in design from an old to a new model. And it’s all for the better in the case of the Renault Koleos. The French car maker’s mid-size SUV has gone from being one of automotive design’s least successful to one of the best looking. And it looks remarkably similar to a certain SUV from Nissan. Well, coincidence it isn’t, because underneath the sleek new sheet metal is indeed the current generation Nissan X-Trail. For those unaware, Renault and Nissan are in an alliance partnership focused on joint research and development, component sharing and business cooperation.
Refined and Europeanised for buyers looking for more zest and sophistication, the Koleos are offered in three variants in Australia – Life, Zen and Intens – with pricing ranging from $29,990 to $43,490 before on-road costs. All variants are available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Unlike the Nissan which can be had with seven seats however, the Renault is strictly a five-seater.
The exterior design is bold and echoes that of the new Megane, with striking C-shaped daytime running lights, wide grille and eye-catching rear lights that stretch the entire width of the car neatly intersected by the Renault logo. The range rides on 18-inch alloys except for the entry-level Life which rolls on smaller 17-inch items.
Like the outside, the Koleos’ interior conveys a slightly more upmarket ambience compared to its Japanese counterpart thanks to generous use of soft touch materials, neat interior stitching, splashes of piano black and polished aluminium trims and a customisable digital instrumentation cluster which is standard on all variants.
Having said that, the trim that surrounds the centre touchscreen is disappointingly a big slab of dull, cheap looking plastic, which doesn’t do justice to an otherwise very well presented cabin. You can fix this however by optioning up the larger portrait 8.7-inch iPad-like touchscreen (standard on Intens), which we highly recommend as it’s a lot crisper and much more intuitive with larger buttons and a less fuzzy layout.
There are ergonomic flaws, too, such as the gear lever indicator which is hidden from view completely as it’s positioned to the left of the gear lever – the wrong side for a right-hand-drive model. Blame it on cost costing. Elsewhere, the media control buttons are inconveniently located behind the steering wheel spoke, while the centre console is where the cruise control and speed limited switches reside, requiring you to take your eyes off the road to operate.
Happily, the cabin does offer good space for five adults with comfortable, supportive seats and generous legroom at the back. This is accompanied with 458 litres of boot space, expandable to a voluminous 1,690 litres with the rear seats tumbled down, though the slight step created by the folded seats means the boot floor isn’t entirely flat.
Shared with the X-Trail the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that powers the entire range delivers 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm of torque at 4400rpm. There’s decent power to haul the family around both in town and in the country, though it isn’t the most refined as it can get a tad coarse and vocal in the upper revs.
If you don’t need AWD the two-wheel drive model we have on test here drives just fine without the front wheels struggling for traction too much getting off the line, thanks to the linear build-up of torque.
The engine is coupled with a CVT (Xtronic in Renault-Nissan speak) automatic which is smooth and clever enough to use engine braking when called upon, but as expected from a CVT the “rubber band” feel – the strange sensation of increasing speed while engine revs stay the same – still takes a lot of the driving feel away. Fortunately there’s none of the unpleasant drone commonly found in transmission of this type.
With underpinnings from the X-Trail, the Koleos’ suspension strikes a fine balance between comfort and handling, delivering a mostly plush ride except for some low speed jittery. It’s a comfortable long distance cruiser but road and wind noise can be better suppressed at freeway speeds.
It’s also a tidy handler around the bends with good body control and assuring composure though limited by the standard Nexen tyres which aren’t the best rubber for a SUV and tend to struggle for lateral grip at times.
While precise the steering wheel is too light and lacking in feedback. The leather that wraps around it also doesn’t offer much grip for your hands, making manoeuvring tight turns rather tricky.
At the end of our week-long test through varying types of roads and traffic conditions, including several trips to the country, the Koleos recorded an average fuel consumption of 8.6L/100km, which is not far off from the rated figure of 8.1L/100km and no doubt falls in the thrifty end of this segment.
All three grades offer decent standard equipment levels though essential safety features such as blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking should be standard across the line-up and not only be limited to the range-topping Intens model. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also glaring omissions across the range.
The mid-spec Zen variant tested here is the one to pick in the range for the best value versus equipment.
Specifications for the all-new Koleos are detailed below:
- Tyre pressure monitor
- Hill Start Assist
- Automatic dual-zone climate control air conditioning
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- LED taillights
- 17 inch alloys with a full sized temporary spare wheel
- Leather steering wheel
- Rear parking sensors and rear view camera
- RLINK2 Multimedia system with landscape 7-inch touch screen, AUX, 2 x USB
The Zen variant adds:
- Automatic electronic parking brake
- Electric adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats
- Keyless entry with automatic walk-away door locking
- RLINK2 navigation and multimedia system with voice control and custom home screens
- Soft touch artificial leather upholstery
- Rear privacy glass
- 18 inch alloy wheels
The Intens variant adds:
- Remote engine start
- LED headlights
- Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Advanced Emergency Braking System, Forward Collision Warning
- Easy Park Assist (parking assistance system)
- Hands-free power tailgate
- RLINK2 with portrait 8.7-inch touchscreen
- Full grain leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats
- Interior ambient cabin lighting
- Bose audio system with 12 speakers, subwoofer and digital amplifier
- Electric panoramic sunroof
Design and Comfort: 7.5/10
Performance and Handling: 7.0/10
Features and Equipment: 7.5/10
The all-new 2017 Renault Koleos is a huge step up from the previous model in terms of design, space and features. Its Nissan-sourced underpinnings and drivetrain further offer proven durability and driveability. But there’s still room for improvement in terms of cabin ergonomics and drivetrain refinement.
- Attractive styling
- Efficient powertrain
- Elegant interior
- Course engine when revved
- Ergonomics need rework
- Essential safety tech only in top-spec model
2017 Renault Koleos Pricing and Specification
|Pricing (Excluding on-road costs):||From $29,990. As tested: $33,990 (Zen 4×2)|
|Warranty:||5-year / unlimited km|
|Country of Origin:||France. Manufactured in South Korea|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/30,000km|
|Engine:||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol:
126kW @ 6,000rpm, 226Nm @ 4,400rpm
|Drivetrain:||Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive|
|Power-to-weight Ratio (W/kg):||78.2 (2WD); 78.4 (AWD)|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 8.1 (2WD) / 8.3 (AWD); Tested: 8.6 (2WD)|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||60|
|Safety:||6 airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, ESC, reverse camera, rear parking sensors, ISOFIX|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,672/1,843/1,678/2,705|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,608 – 1,611|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 2,000; Unbraked: 750|
|Entertainment:||7-inch touch screen (8.7-inch for Intens), AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, iPod, navigation (Zen and above)|
Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Holden Captiva, Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Jeep Cherokee, Suzuki Vitara, Peugeot 3008