The Koleos is a very likeable car. We tested the top of two trim options, the Signature Nav, which has an impressive amount of equipment, including sat-nav, 19in alloys, an 8.7in touchscreen and full leather seats.
That said, the lower trim, the Dynamique S Nav, will be more than enough for most with rear parking camera, panoramic sunroof, 7in screen and plenty of safety systems. It even has heated and ventilated cup holders, not something many cars can boast.
The Koleos is Renault’s flagship car in terms of interior quality and technology and rightly so; it’s impressive. The infotainment system on the 8.7in touchscreen is well-designed and intuitive, the layout is well-considered, and there are plenty of practicalities – four USBs and lots of cubby holes, for starters. The leathers and plastics are also good quality.
Space is decent. A wheelbase of 2705mm – identical to the Nissan X-Trail – means good rear leg room, although the roof line isn't great for tall bodies. The boot is 579 litres, beating the X-Trail by 29 litres but losing out to the Skoda Kodiaq's 630 litres.
Interestingly, Renault is not offering a seven-seat version of the Koleos, unlike competitor the Kodiaq, for example. Renault’s UK boss Vincent Tourette points to the Grand Scenic as an answer to those families needing a seven-seater, and considers it a key differentiator that maintains the MPV’s relevance in a marketplace so heavily skewed to SUVs.
To drive, the Koleos is a friendly beast. The power is more than enough at motorway speeds, and the 172bhp diesel is a decent engine that will easily haul a fully laden Koleos on long motorway slogs. There is also adequate low-end torque.
Hearing the initialism CVT injects fear into any respectable motoring journalist because, quite frankly, most of these gearboxes are appalling. Renault insists this is an advanced CVT that uses a step system to mimic a sequential gearbox. To some extent, that’s true; it’s infinitely better than most CVTs. It struggled most when gaining ground quickly in first and second gears, inducing a unpleasant growl from the engine.
The suspension is built for comfort rather than dynamism, while handling is stable and predictable. If you’re looking for more direct steering or agility, the Skoda Kodiaq is a better bet, though the compromise there is ride quality, which isn’t as soft as the Koleos.
We also had the chance to cover some off-road ground in the Koleos in 4WD Lock mode, which permanently engages four-wheel drive at speeds of less than 25mph and distributes torque 50/50 to the front and rear. There is also 210mm ground clearance. Admittedly, we weren’t tackling gargantuan swamps but, on a torrid day of rain, the car held its ground well, not least on a hairy hill start that, at least from the driver’s seat, seemed about 45 degrees.