Forget the slow-selling Koleos of the noughties - Renault is set to resurrect the Koleos name for a new SUV, which will rival the likes of the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe when it launches later this year.
Despite a wide-ranging rumour that the latest Renault SUV would be called the Maxthon, the company has instead decided to reinstate the Koleos name. Despite negative connotations with the old model in Europe, it's been a success elsewhere, and continues to sell strongly in China.
The new Koleos will sit above Renault's two other SUVs - the Captur and the Kadjar - and will focus on practicality and rear-seat space, making it sure to appeal to family buyers. Strengthening its case as a family car is the possibility of a seven-seat version at a later date.
It’s the final piece of Renault’s resurgence, which began with the new Clio back in 2012. Design boss Laurens van den Acker said the Koleos is “every inch an SUV and every inch a Renault.
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“The challenge was to imagine an SUV that was not only elegant, but also modern and dynamic,” he said. “We accentuated the segment’s familiar cues thanks to taut, powerful, horizontal lines, muscular haunches and high ground clearance”.
Styling-wise, the Koleos adopts Renault’s new family face with C-shaped LED headlights merging into the large chrome-slated front grille. In profile, however, the Koleos is quite unlike any Renault that has gone before. It benefits from 213mm of ground clearance, which bosses say gives the car ‘real all-terrain ability’. The window-line kinks at the rear for a sleek look, with a high roof that should ensure plenty of space in inside.
At the rear, the Megane’s influence is clear. The wide taillights stretch left to right, but the Kadjar’s bumper-mounted numberplate has been moved to the bottlid, with two exhaust pipes completing the look.
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Inside, the top-of-the-range Koleos models get the same tablet-style portrait touchscreen as the Megane and Scenic, as well as plush leather seats and classy digital dials. Even entry-level cars get a seven-inch landscape display with pinch-to-zoom functionality, as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Some models will get electrically-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, as well as personalisable LED interior lighting. The Koleos’s SUV genes are evident across the cabin thanks to the two grab handles either side of the screen. The wide centre console gives the car a more grown-up feel, too.
Practicality is impressive. The 624-litre boot is 39 litres larger than you’ll find in a Hyundai Sante Fe, and Renault claims a total load volume of 1,690 litres with the rear seat folded. There’s an additional 35 litres of stowage dotted around the cabin, with a sizeable 11-litre glovebox and five-litre central cubby. Knee room of 289mm is among the best in class, while head, shoulder and elbow room is allegedly very generous as well.
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Under the skin, the Koleos shares much of its mechanical makeup with the existing Nissan X-Trail. Selectable four-wheel drive will be available on some models, along with a range of petrol and diesel engines from the current Renault and Nissan line-up. The dCi 130 diesel is likely to be the biggest seller, mated either to a six-speed manual or X-Tronic automatic gearbox. Exact engine specifications will be announced closer to launch.
As with all Renault, safety will be key. Active Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Tiredness Detection are all available, as are Automatic High/Low Beams, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
Despite its size and perceived rivals, the launch car will come with just five seats. However, Renault’s Chief competitive officer Thierry Bolloré has previously told us the priority was not for seven seats. “The car is ready and we expect it to be on the market by the end of the year”, he told us. “But it is not a seven-seater.”
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Asked why, he continued: “It is a good question and one we are questioning for ourselves at the moment. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, but for the moment it won’t have [seven seats].” Bolloré added that the car has been engineered in such a way that adding two more seats “would be possible” at a later stage.
Renault says the Koleos is ‘destined for a global audience’ with sales kicking off in Australia, Turkey, the Gulf states and some Latin American markets in the third quarter of 2016. Russia and Europe - including the UK – will see the car in showrooms early next year.
Here are the SUV class leaders that Renault faces…
Auto Express’ reigning SUV of the year, the Santa Fe offers outstanding value for money wrapped in a stylish and premium package.
The Sorento shares a large proportion of its DNA with the Santa Fe - and the new-generation model looks and drives better than ever.
At the more premium end of the market sits the new Discovery Sport, with great off-road ability and advanced tech.
The X-Trail will donate much of its DNA to Renault’s crossover. It looks good and drives well, and all for a competitive price, too.
The all-new Skoda Kodiaq SUV is due next year. Based on the Vision S concept car (pictured) the seven-seater will be the brand’s first foray into this end of the SUV market.
Which of the latest raft of 4x4s and SUVs would you buy? Let us know in the comments below...