New Renault Koleos 2017 review
The new Renault Koleos is entering a crowded SUV market, but does it have what it takes to stand out?
The Koleos earns its stripes as Renault’s flagship SUV thanks to a strong combination of space, comfort and practicality. The punchy 2.0-litre diesel suits the car’s character, and even the CVT auto works well. The good-value Skoda Kodiaq makes the Renault’s entry price look high, but a long list of standard equipment and well-built cabin help justify the lofty costs. Buyers looking for seven seats will have to look elsewhere, however.
The Koleos is the final piece in Renault’s three-strong SUV jigsaw. It follows the smaller Captur and Kadjar in the expanding crossover line-up, but while those two cars represented new entries when they went on sale in 2013 and 2015 respectively, the Koleos name has been seen in Britain before.
Renault pulled the plug on the first-generation Koleos back in 2010, citing poor sales for its rapid demise. However, In the seven years since, the SUV market has grown exponentially, partly at the expense of MPVs – one of Renault’s historical fortes.
It also acts the firm’s flagship SUV, and as such it’s more than just Renault’s biggest crossover – it’s intended as a truly premium offering, sitting atop the model range.
At launch, buyers get a choice of two diesel engines. A 128bhp 1.6-litre unit with front-wheel-drive acts as the entry-level choice, but a more powerful, 173bhp 2.0-litre with 380Nm of torque plus optional all-wheel-drive gives the Koleos its SUV credentials.
The rich torque figure means that the 2.0-litre Koleos is an strong performer, picking up pace readily, but with refinement, too. Renault’s decision to fit a CVT automatic is vindicated too, as it’s a very smooth box. It comes with a setting that mimics the shifts in an automated manual, but this feels gimmicky – leave the CVT to do its thing and it offers a much more relaxed experience.
From behind the wheel, Renault has done a good job with the Koleos’s steering – it feels sharp and direct, but the car’s size and weight put a dampener on agility. Body control is good for a car in this class, however. The Koleos tends to stay upright, and as such, is a comfortable car at speed. Around town, it loses some of its magic though, finding lumps on slower roads.
Naturally, this all-wheel-drive version of the Koleos will be the most expensive to run. Renault claims 47.9mpg, but ditching the X-Tronic gearbox and weighty four-wheel-drive will reduce your costs. Our car’s 33 per cent BiK company car tax bracket plays the front-drive manual’s 27 per cent rating.
Renault expects Koleos buyers to push the boat out when speccing their cars, however, and early figures suggest around 60 per cent of UK buyers are opting for range topping Signature trim over already well-equipped, Dynamique S models. Signature cars get a different infotainment system (an 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen), full LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, a power tailgate and heated leather seats. But while the soft-touch plastics at arm level and draw you in, there’s a lack of perceived quality upon closer inspection. The plastics and switchgear on the infotainment system don’t feel up to par, nor do the faux wooden trim pieces.
Space and comfort in the cabin is something Renault is keen to play up, though unlike many of its D-segment SUV rivals, there’s no option for seven seats. Renault thinks purposeful packaging for five could help the Koleos stand out in a crowded market, however. As such, legroom in the back is generous, and as the seats don’t need to perform gymnastics to open up a third row, they’re thick, padded and comfortable, too.
Renault has aimed high with the Koleos, though. The £27,500 staring price for the basic model is punchy, especially alongside entry-level Skoda Kodiaqs, which cost from just £22,190. Pitch the £34,200 2.0-litre, 4x4 Signature alongside an equivalent Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 190 in Edition trim, however, and the Renault is the cheaper car on paper.
Click on the gallery above to see more of the new Renault Koleos...