Renault’s Quite Koleos

 

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The formula is simple: safe, spacious, comfort, in a tasteful exterior with a luscious cabin.

Many have tried, but most have churned out the mediocre, bordering on dull.

I like the ample bosom of the Koleos. It is considerably larger than the old model.

Outgoing Koleos (mm)

All-New Koleos (mm)

Overall length

4,520

4,672

Wheelbase

2,690

2,705

Front overhang

955

930

Rear overhang

875

1,038

Overall height

1,705

1,678

Ground clearance

186

210

Rear knee room

212

289

The aggressive side vents and muscular arches have a solid road presence, and the body coloured door handles add to a premium impression. Side on, the bulk could look heavy and awkward, but is broken by a deep upward scallop making the doors look trim and slim. The black undercarriage is a smart way of keeping the eye on the painted surfaces only. It makes the body look trim, taught, and terrific without having to trim those wonderful inches from the inside where you need them.

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Our Intens tops out the range, with Life, and Zen being the entry and mid-level models. Life drives via the front wheels, Zen comes in 2 or AWD, and Intens drives all wheels. The top model has all the mod-cons, even a hands-free electric tailgate.

I love the interior. There is a generous feel about the design which uses premium materials and high-end interfaces. Of course, there are electric leather seats, and the usual suite of driver-assist features (lane image141917_bwarning, emergency braking and forward crash warning), but there are thoughtful touches. For example, there are dual cup holders in the centre console. The front cup-holder is cooled by a small air vent from the climate control. You can close it off if you don’t want it, but rather strangely, only the front cup holder has the vent. The front seats are heated and cooled which you don’t really appreciate until a 40c day on black leather. On the subject of air conditioning, the dual-zones can be synced.

The infotainment unit has a large 8.7” LCD screen in portrait rather than landscape mode. The menus are easy to navigate. The home pages are customisable so you can use it much like a smart phone. You swipe left or right to find the icons you’ve stashed to use later. It’s a smart use of familiar tech that I like, and most drivers won’t need the manual to decipher it either. The sound system has decent Bose speakers, but there is no Carplay/Android Auto. Considering this is a brand-new model, that’s a hideous oversight.

Most of the controls have been subsumed by the centre stack’s LCD control centre, but there are just enough fixed buttons to make the system useable. There is much to be said for balance. I’ve learnt from experience that trying to adjust en A/C at 110kph is hit-and-miss if the only way to do it is hidden within menus. Connecting Bluetooth is super easy. Either go into the menu and select phone, or press phone onimage141918_b the steering wheel. If there is none connected, it will ask to connect or pair. Over the years, the pairing process has becomes easier and easier so now only a ham-fisted buffoon could fail. The speakers are clear and the mic makes you clearly understood at the other end. It’s best to use the system with the windows up, but only peasants drive around with the windows down right?

On the road, the 126kw/226Nm 2.5L 4 cylinder feels strong, but with a leisurely 9.5 seconds to 100kph, it won’t be breaking and land speed records. That’s OK, it isn’t meant to.

You have comfortable seating position but I’d have liked more adjustment in the steering wheel. It doesn’t pull back far enough meaning the driver’s seat has to be closer to the pedals than I like. None the less I loved the overall feel, and would no doubt become accustomed to it after a short time.

The steering has a reasonably direct feel, and the brakes have a progressive strength which is typical of the driving experience. City driving is a pleasure. It’s made easier by semi-automated park assist which will park on either side of the street. It will expertly get into a parallel, perpendicular, or an angled space, and makes life easy if you don’t fancy a punt at doing it yourself. The reversing camera and sensors give you a chance of making a decent fist of it if you decide to go solo.

At speed, the cabin is quiet and refined and the ride as supple as it was in town. We tested the Koleos on some fairly dreadful road surfaces and only the most uneven caused noise to intrude. Even then it wasn’t offensive. The suspension has a sophisticated Macpherson strut front set-up with multi-link at the rear which allows a certain plushness to the 1611kg weight of the body. It hangs on in tight corners even though there is more body roll than I’m used to. At no stage was the handling anything other than well mannered.

Before I move on, I want to mention the lane departure warning system. Unless you’re on a long trip it is a bit useless. In my opinion, this feature only gives some idiots the idea that they can muck around with their mobile phones more. Some brands have an active Lane Departure system that gently guide an inattentive driver by applying pressure to the steering wheel. This is even worse. There are some incredibly stupid drivers on the road who should never have been given a driver’s license in the first place. This will only encourage them. The Renault has an audible tone in the form of an annoying rumble through the speakers on the errant side. This lasted about 3 kilometres before I turned it off. Imagine sounding like you’re on the rumble strips at the side of the road every 3 seconds. It is stupidly sensitive even on the least sensitive setting.

The transmission is a CVT, and I have failed to completely warm to them, no matter what the brand. Renault claims the X-Tronic has eliminated the rubber-band feeling most CVTs have. It hasn’t, but since many brands are moving that way, it is something we will have to get used to. However, it won’t stop me from complaining about it.

Conclusion:

I came to really enjoy my time in the Koleos. I liked the huge storage bins and the easy fold rear seats. Although I’m not the SUV type of guy, I’d happily drive the Renault cross-country. The easy of entry, and more particularly, exit, endeared the Koleos to me. The AWD system made even the sportiest sections a pleasure.

I probably wouldn’t attempt to much in the way of difficult terrain, but most SUVs will never be asked to, no matter how much they cost. I personally wouldn’t bother with the front wheel drive versions. If I did, I’d go for a less expensive, lighter, cheaper-to-run hatchback or station wagon if I absolutely needed space.

I could imagine the two of us motoring happily down the highway, bags in the back, destination unknown, sans the Thelma and Louise ending. Even my 10 year-old nephew thought it was “excellent”, keeping in mind his mum drives a Merc GLA. Make of that what you will.

The first thing I look for is ease of use. Koleos is dead easy, even without the user guide. I failed to get the gesture control tailgate to work, but then I’ve not got it to work in any other so-equipped car either. It leads me to believe it is operator error.

There is a long 5 year warranty including roadside assit.

Would I buy one? Yes, if I needed an SUV. I’d always test it against a proper 4WD if my needs dictated off-roading.

Engine:2.5L, petrol, 4cylinder, Euro 5, 126kw/226Nm, multi pint injection, NON Turbo

Transmission: Xtronic CVT

Price: $49,590 drive away NSW (range starts at $34,590 driver away)

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