Renault Koleos Tested 20/09/2019

Full Road Test

Renault's Koleos is a luxurious-feeling SUV Crossover model that offers a very credible package for family buyers. Jonathan Crouch reports on the improved model.

Ten Second Review

If you need plenty of space and want an affordable family-sized Crossover or SUV, your range of options is widening. Here's a contender you might want to have on your list, Renault Koleos, which features in the French maker's line-up just above the successful Captur and Kadjar Crossover models. In this improved guise, it offers a higher quality package.

Background

If the Koleos name rings a bell, then that's because Renault has used it before - with an ill-fated Qashqai competitor that sold for just two years between 2008 and 2010, quickly withdrawn from sale because buyer interest in it was so low. Things have proved to be a lot better this time round. The Koleos is based almost entirely on a Nissan X-Trail, an SUV which has proved to be a strong contender in the D-segment. It doesn't aim to compete directly on price with volume versions of the X-Trail, but that's only because Renault has kitted this car out with enough equipment to embarrass pricier competitors in this class from Kia and Hyundai.

Driving Experience

Koleos buyers now choose between a couple of diesel engines; a 1.7-litre 150PS Blue dCi 150 unit with front wheel drive and a 2.0-litre 190PS Blue dCi 190 unit with 4WD. Both powerplants come mated to a seven-speed automatic X-Tronic gearbox. The auto is a CVT set-up that adjusts itself continuously whilst maintaining optimal engine speed and can also simulate gear shifts, producing more powerful acceleration. The four-wheel-drive Koleos model comes equipped with ALL MODE 4x4-I technology borrowed from its X-Trail design stablemate. This enables you to select your driving mode - AUTO, LOCK or 2WD - and keep complete control of the powertrain on any terrain. For tarmac territory, there's also what's called 'Active Trace Control'. By using on board sensors to monitor speed, steering angle, throttle opening and braking effort, Active Trace Control brakes wheels individually, as required, to reduce understeer and help the driver steer a safer path through bends: it is particularly effective on slippery, wet roads.

Design and Build

Subtle styling changes to the front and rear of this improved Koleos give it a more assertive presence on the road, while the brand's distinctive Pure Vision LED headlamps are now standard across the range. There's a more prominent grille, smarter chrome trim and larger skid plates. Enhancements to the rear of the Koleos mirror those at the front, with a bigger skid plate, extra chrome trim and a bigger high-level brake light that complements the 3D effect Edge Light tail lamps. Finally, there are restyled two-tone alloy wheels. Inside, the Koleos retains its class leading passenger space and refinement, while improved soft touch materials and revised satin trim inserts add further premium appeal. Rear seat passenger comfort is also improved, with the addition of a two-stage reclining seat back on all models. For back seat folk, rear knee room remains amongst the best in its class at 289mm with rear passengers also benefitting from dual air vents, dual USBs (with two more in the front), a central armrest with cupholders and extra tinted rear windows. Though the Nissan X-Trail SUV this Koleos is based on can be ordered with 7-seats, this Renault is a five-seat-only model. The spacious interior hasn't been designed at the expense of boot space. There's 458-litres of that with all seats in place and 1,690-litres with the rear seats down. Achieving maximum boot capacity is made easier thanks to the standard 'One-Touch' easy folding rear seats which can be folded (individually or all at once) via a button in the boot.

Market and Model

You'll need a budget starting at just over £28,000 for Koleos ownership; there's a choice of 'Iconic' and 'GT-Line' trim and standard features across the range include LED headlamps, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, keyless entry, ambient interior lighting, hands-free parking and a reversing camera. Renault's intuitive R-LINK 2 touch screen infotainment system has been further improved by the addition of a full screen function Apple CarPlay. This applies to both the seven-inch and 8.7-inch screens. Outside, the Koleos 'GT Line' sports 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels and electrically adjustable heated and folding door mirrors. Longitudinal roof bars provide a hint at the rugged off-road capabilities of the SUV. Safety and technology receive a boost with this improved model, with the Koleos' already comprehensive suite of driver aids strengthened with the introduction of a pedestrian detection function for the Active Emergency Braking System (AEBS). This follows the previous addition of standard adaptive cruise control to the range.

Cost of Ownership

Let's get to the figures. The 1.7-litre 150PS Blue dCi 150 emits 143g/km of CO2, while the larger 2.0-litre 190PS Blue dCi 190 returns 150g/km of CO2 (both NEDC). With both variants, over 40mpg on a regular basis should be possible. The official WLTP stats for base 'Iconic' variants are 46.3mpg for the dCi 150 and 40.9mpg for the dCi 190. To achieve these figures, Renault's engineers did more than just focus on the efficiency and performance of the engine and transmission. By reducing weight and optimising the car's aerodynamics, the engineers were able to make the Koleos particularly clean and frugal. Another aspect of purchase that should please you lies in the fact that you won't be fobbed off with the basic three year / 60,000 mile warranty that most rivals offer. All Koleos models come with a much more complete four-year / 100,000-mile warranty that includes emergency breakdown recovery. There's also three years' worth of European cover as part of this package. Servicing is required once a year or every 18,000 miles.

Summary

The Koleos is an often-overlooked contender in Renault's Crossover SUV line-up. Proven Nissan X-Trail design and underpinnings make it worth a look and Renault has chosen to equip its contender to a level that positions it some way above the price of its Japanese cousin. If you wanted a lot of kit anyway and you like the way that this Koleos looks, you'll probably like most of the rest of what's on offer here. This is a plush, capable contender that'll save you plenty on a number of key rivals when you spec them up properly and firmly establishes Renault as a brand to be taken seriously in this segment.

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