Capable enough off road, and comfortable on it; well-priced, too

What is it?

The Koleos is Renault’s first bespoke 4x4. No, the Scenic RX4 doesn’t count because it’s muddy version of the Scenic and not a start from scratch model.

Why has Renault left it so long? Good question. At the launch press conference a French PR man spouted some baloney about the tortoise and the hare fable, but the truth of it is that Renault eventually saw that the crossover market in Europe is now up to 5 per cent and the line on the graph is rising.

The Koleos is based on the Nissan X-Trail. Nissan did the engineering for the car in Japan, Renault styled it in France and Renault Samsung in South Korea builds it.

There’s a choice of two engines: a 150bhp version of Renault’s 2.0-litre dCi diesel and a 175bhp version. The latter comes in only Privilige trim and with a six-speed manual gearbox and the lower powered engine is in all three Dynamique, Dynamique S and Privilige trim levels and in the two-wheel drive only model. Surprisingly, the six-speed automatic gearbox is only available with the 150 dCi engine.

Unlike the Ford Kuga, which is its most direct rival, the Koleos has hill descent control. Not that many customers will ever have need of it. An ESP system is fitted to all models except the £17,995 4x2 version which is rather tight fisted of Renault.

What’s it like?

Inoffensive to look at, but not particularly inspiring. We’ll call it a tidy design.

A fair amount of off-roading was included in the launch route including some adventure playground stuff that demonstrated that the Koleos is articulate and could indeed vere away from Sainsburys and St John’s infant school and actually do some off-roading. Lack of low ratio combined with a slight shortage of low down torque limit it’s ultimate ability.

What the dirt did prove was that the Koleos has a very supple ride. It’s good on the road, too, and very quiet. There’s a bit of body roll and in 2wd mode you can feel the front tyres push if you approach tighter corners with a bit too much speed but it’s more than made up for by the comfort.

The Koleos looks and feels well made. There are some nice touches such as the clamshell rear tailgate and, even better, the two levers on the D-pillar that when pulled flop the seat backs down (the squabs are spring loaded and pop up by themselves). Stuff like that has huge showroom appeal and great practicality.

Performance from the 175 dCi engine is adequate with a 117mph top end and 0-62mph in 9.9sec. Emissions are not quite so good with the 150 dCi engine falling into band F with 197g/km (the Ford Kuga beats it soundly with 169g/km).

Should I buy one?

You might like to if you are a loyal Renault customer and fancy a change from a Scenic. The Koleos is keenly priced and comes well equipped and has a generous three year, 100,000 mile warranty.

A group test featuring Koleos, Kuga and Honda CR-V will be interesting and should give us the answer to the question of who’se boss. The Renault scores high on practicality, details and comfort. It could be a close call.

Colin Goodwin

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3 May 2008

"Lack of low ratio combined with a slight shortage of low down torque limit it’s ultimate ability."

John, John: please don't do Renault the service of even countenancing the possibility that anyone who buys this sort of needless, irrelevant crate is slightly interested in its offroad ability. If I became Prime Minister tomorrow and could put every example of any car in the world into the crusher, this would be the first model I dropped in.

10 May 2008

[quote theoriginalshoe]John, John[/quote]

Sorry Colin.

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