Koleos is Renault's

big SUV challenger

Renault Koleos, front
Renault Koleos, side
Renault Koleos, rear
Renault Koleos, sunroof
Renault Koleos, interior
Renault Koleos, boot

RENAULT is launching its third SUV to bolster the firm's challenge in the surging crossover segment.

The Koleos - yes, the same name as the unloved and discontinued 2010 model - is its biggest yet off-roader and will rival the likes of Land Rover Discovery Sport, VW Tiguan and Hyundai Santa Fe.

But is there space for the latest entry into the industry's fastest growing car fashion? Well, yes there probably is because just as soon as one new SUV breaks cover an old-style family saloon either fades into obscurity or falls of buyers' lists.

Remember Renault lost its big car ranges years ago and now has just the Grand Scenic as representation in the UK.

The Koleos is built on the same modern platform as the mid-sized Kadjar SUV, the Nissan Qashqai and the X-Trail.

Two and four wheel drive versions are offered but the only type of engine available is diesel, with a choice between 1.6-litre 128bhp and 2.0-litre 173bhp. The smaller engine size is coupled to a manual six speed gearbox, while the 2.0-litre gets the clever seven-speed X-Tronic transmission.

Perhaps surprisingly, Renault has plumped to offer only a five-seat layout, ignoring the possibility of a third row of seats at the rear boosting the accommodation to seven passengers.

Designers say they were keen to preserve a sleeker profile which might have been sacrificed by extra seating, even though some rivals offer an additional row.

Big and bold, with a genuine road presence, the Koleos looks and feels distinctly upmarket with a plush, spacious cabin furnished with high grade materials.

At first, two trim levels are available - Dynamique S Nav which comes with loads of goodies including seven-inch touch screen, glass sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the Signature Nav which adds bigger alloys, larger touchscreen and LED headlights.

Prices start at £27,500 for the Dynamic S Nav 130. The biggest seller in UK is anticipated to be Signature Nav 175 AWD at £32,700. The auto version costs another £1,500.

There's loads of space up front and similarly generous proportions for rear seat passengers thanks to the long wheelbase, the biggest in its class. Particularly noticeable in the back is the abundant legroom, partly helped by a high seating position.

Boot space isn't quite so impressive with 458 litres of cargo space, slightly less than some rivals. It features a removable floor positioned at the same height as the sill to form a flat floor. The rear seats split 60-40, and when that row is folded luggage capability grows to an impressive 1,690 litres.

Considering the pared down price tag, there's plenty of standard kit including latest tech creature comforts such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, traffic sign recognition, blind spot warning, rear parking camera and opening panoramic sunroof. The top model gets a bigger touch screen, all leather seating and powered, automatic tailgate.

I drove the version likely to become the most popular in UK, the Signature Nav 175. With a lofty driving position, acres of elbow room and high grade furnishings it feels very much a premium product which should help Renault to win over status-conscious buyers from Audi and BMW.

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel pulls well and feels well up to the job of hauling the sizeable body. Acceleration to 62mph is covered in 9.5seconds with a max of 125mph, which is about par for the course in this sector. The smaller engine version is a couple of seconds slower which may put off some buyers.

Noise levels are generally low from the engine but the tyres transmit some commotion from the road. The X-Tronic gearbox works well and suits the car's easy-going gait.

It's basically a CVT unit - continuously variable transmission - but with seven artificially created ‘steps' built in which effectively removes that irritating trait of frenetic revving as the engine revs struggle to match acceleration.

There's also the added benefit that the X-Tronic -equipped models are both marginally faster and more frugal with a combined economy of 50.4mpg.

The Koleos' ride is quite composed and settled - only deep potholes manage to transfer jolts to within the cabin.

Renault faces a tough task challenging the established opposition but the Koleos represents great value and has many appealing qualities.


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