Last year was one of Renault’s most successful in Australia with sales here almost doubling those achieved in 2016. The Koleos, the French marque’s five-seater medium SUV, can claim much of the credit for the increased interest. The new diesel arrival is likely to bolster that further.
It is $3500 more than its petrol stablemate, but still presents good value when compared to the equivalents offered by the segment leaders – Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan and the Nissan X-Trail.
Renault Koleos has much in common with the Nissan X-Trail given they are manufactured by the same company but while the Koleos may share its underpinnings with the X-Trail, that’s where the similarities end.
The exterior of this second-generation Koleos looks altogether more imposing. The SUV itself is bigger, the grille is bolder, the overhangs give a greater impression of strength and the girth contributes to a more striking presence.
On the inside, the Koleos is a mix of that promised French flair and those harder plastics that certainly lack that joie de vivre. The 8.7-inch vertically fixed tablet-like touchscreen is a clear intent at trendy design and works together with the mood lighting and choice of digital instrumentation to create an environment personalised to the driver.
Like the petrol versions, the extended length of this diesel Koleos translates into oodles of legroom for passengers in the rear. Lodgings back there pretty comfortable with two adjustable air vents and plenty of storage options. The outboard seats offer greater support than the flattish middle seat but it is hard to fault as a mid-sized family option.
There is obvious comfort for the driver and front passenger too, although a little bit of bolstering wouldn’t go astray. Cup holders and door pockets offer storage options and there are useful cubbies for phones and other essentials in the centre console.
At 458-litres, the boot is one of the most sizeable in its class and handles boogey boards and diving gear just as adeptly as it does the weekly shop. Drop the back seats and you have more than 1690 litres at your disposal, pretty impressive actually. Access is via a powered tailgate and you can waggle your foot below the rear bumper to open it if your hands are full.
The Koleos features an on-trend 8.7-inch colour touchscreen that serves as the nerve centre for Renault’s R-Link 2 infotainment system. The touchscreen itself takes some getting used to – changing the ventilation fan speed is particularly painful – but the graphics package and the customisable home pages, voice control and two-finger zoom will tickle the fancy of those who are excited by on-trend technology.
Connecting your phone is simple, the microphone is clear and the connection doesn’t drop out easily. The 12-speaker Bose audio system will ensure you are never far from your tunes even if your kids chose to have Ed Sheeran on repeat.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
This 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine joins the 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol unit that does duty in the rest of the range. It produces 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque outdoing the petrol (126kW/226Nm) on both counts, and paired exclusively with a continuously variable transmission automatic.
You want a family carrier to have the best safety features available. The Koleos features a host of active and passive safety inclusions like six airbags, emergency brake assist, reverse camera, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning. It even has a self-parking system to do the work for you.
Koleos has not been tested by ANCAP.
Thanks to the extra torque, this diesel Koleos feels sharper and more responsive than its petrol counterpart. It is slow to start and needs some persuading but once that grunt arrives at 2000rpm, it is an able machine.
Progress is steady and assured, if a little noisy at low revs, with the Koleos showing enough skill on the open area and inner city to not shame its family and friends. At almost 150kg heavier than the petrol Intens, this Koleos does take some moving and a heavy foot is needed for a speedy departure or when overtaking.
It has reduced towing capacity, 1650kg braked, compared to the 2000kg braked offered by the petrol.
The higher ground clearance is a boon in the urban jungle and on secondary roads while the raised driving height helps with visibility. The latter is, however, impacted by the thick A-pillars and the placement of the sizeable side mirrors.
Handling is good. It drives true and flat through corners and the steering offers enough feel to keep you engaged. With a suspension that settles on the firmer end, you are likely to feel more than the odd bump, but not uncomfortably so.
The Koleos is sometimes let down by a hit-and-miss CVT. While Renault has done much work to make it easier to live with, it does always manage to pick that optimum torque spot to change gears both when accelerating and slowing down.
You will be pretty happy with the fuel consumption with our test Koleos staying pretty close to the official 6.1L/100km during our week in the seat.
The five-year unlimited kilometre warranty will also please, there’s roadside assist during that period.
There is a three-year capped-price servicing plan too which will see you handing for $299 for a regular service every 12 months or 30,000km.
Renault Koleos skirts around the edges of what we would consider a traditional French offering rather than exemplifying its soul. But this is no secret. It does, however, present a reasonable family offering especially for those wanting a little extra space. The range-topping diesel adds further choice in this ever-growing segment.
AT A GLANCE
RENAULT KOLEOS INTENS DIESEL PRICING AND SPECIFICATIONS:
Price: from $46,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Output: 130kW at 3750rpm and 380Nm at 2000rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic, AWD
Fuel: 6.1L/100km (ADR Combined)
Warranty: Five years unlimited kilometres
Safety Rating: Not ANCAP tested
What we liked:
What we didn’t:
Can be a bit noisy
Lack of Va-Va-Voom