It would be fair to say that, after a while in this job, you approach different new cars with different expectations.

And it would also be fair to say that I approached the Renault Koleos, newly arrived on these shores, with my expectations flying somewhere below ankle height.

I mean, just look at the thing: with its teetering stance, grafted-on corporate front end and full complement of soft-roader design cliches. It even boasts an inclinometer – the sort of pointless detail that I remember from the 1980s Fiat Panda 4x4.

Renault is the last major manufacturer to bring a mid-sized SUV to market, so we probably shouldn’t have expected anything particularly original. But even so, on first impressions, it looks like a me-too product that was carefully engineered to slot into the exact centre of its over-full market segment. 

Yes, there’s a but. Because, looks aside, the Koleos is actually a pretty decent machine. I’d be lying if I said that it won me over to the point where I actually want one – but after three hours of rush-hour motorway and a dozen miles of rapid ‘A’ road I can confirm that it drives far better than it looks.