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.