Clever Koleos an unexpected surprise
Not sure what’s up at Renault, but we've lost track of what’s going on with them. Maybe we wrote something they never liked, who knows, but we hardly see them anymore and our supply of cars with that diamond badge is, well, sporadic. No worries, we still call a spade a spade — our readers are after all first and foremost why we are here.
So, it was quite a surprise when this Koleos rocked up — and good to drive a car from the Regie again too. To be honest I was taken aback by it — the first Koleos was a forgettable attempt at an SUV, but this one is in many ways a good car. Firstly, it may not be Paris ramp model pretty, but it’s big and step inside and you will soon understand how roomy Koleos is, never mind that the driver’s seat is easy to contort into a position you're quite comfy with.
Koleos is not exactly X5 or GLE spectacular, nor should it be at less than half the price. Yet it rivals those all-star execs in size and packs materials and finishes superior to what we’d expect from Renault, although not all of us were too sure about the cabin styling and upright dash, But can beggars really be choosers?
You're greeted by a Volvo-like 8.7-inch portrait-inclined infotainment touchscreen that is prone to fingerprinting and perhaps controls too many things via the screen. Personally I’d prefer at least the main climate and audio to be manual to ease on-the-move tuning, but it does pack mirroring, Bluetooth, USB, voice command and a cool sound system and you can even adjust the instrument cluster and ambient lighting.
Koleos is practical — a seven-litre centre armrest cubby contributes to a promised 35 litres of cabin goody space while the boot, all be its gate a bit high, is a useful 579 litres big and ramps up to 1795 litres, depending how much of the 60/40 split-folding rear bench you fold down.
Rear passengers benefit seats just as comfy as those up front and cavernous and clearly class-leading head and legroom and there are two ISOFIX points, while the transmission tunnel hardly encroaches either. Add two USB ports and a 12-volt power socket in the back to happily leave the kids to their own devices and the only real question mark our side is why not seven seats a-la Fortuner, X-Trail, Sorento, et al?
South African Koleos get a 126kW 233Nm 2.5-litre petrol four-pot shared with the Nissan X-Trail and Navara, driving all dour wheels too, so this flagship 4WD is not a cheap FWD substitute either. It proved a tad off its claims on our test strip, but performance is fairly decent and while Koleos can seem a bit lethargic on the freeway, it pulls more than adequately around town, where its tight 11.4m turning circle is another plus.
Koleos has a cool driver information screen that shows a white leaf that fills up faster, the more frugally you drive to rate your teetotaling efforts — I got down under 5.9l/100 in the end and managed to drive 9km travelled without using any fuel at all during one trip. I will never be a CVT fan, mainly because of how they sound when you get on with it and Koleos felt a bit jerky in city traffic, but the X-tronic box limits the revs and does a good job while delivering decent economy too.
All in all, the Renault Koleos is a compelling proposition — it boasts the silhouette and the space of a real executive SUV, its well enough specced and finished and gets on with it fairly well with the added confidence of all-wheel drive too. Koleos is also well backed by a great looking warranty and service plan on paper and comes in at a tiny fraction of the cost of those glitzy rivals. Well worth a peek, I’d say… - Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Renault Koleos 2.5 Dynamique 4WD
Engine: 126kW 233Nm 2.5-litre petrol I4
Drive: CVTl AWD
0-60km/h: 5,13 sec
0-100km/h: 10.50 sec
0-160km/h: 29.38 sec
400m: 17.5 sec @ 132km/h
80-120km/h: 6.87 sec
120-160km/h: 13.37 sec
Fuel: 6.9 l/100km
CO2: 192 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 150K/5y 90Kkm
LIST PRICE: R500K