Renault South Africa first introduced the Koleos in 2008. A product of the Nissan alliance, the French SUV utilised the platform, engine and transmission of the X-Trail, but replaced the rather boxy body style of its Japanese sibling with a far more elegant one.
Despite being face lifted in 2012, the Koleos, sadly, did not become a common sight on our roads, but it deserved another look in my book. That could change following the recent launch of the latest derivation.
Once again, the shared platform and mechanicals with the X-Trail are the basis, although the Koleos bodywork is slightly smaller externally. Available in two trim levels, Expression and Dynamique, our test Koleos was the range topping Dynamique CVT 4×4. From the outset it was obvious this is a very different incarnation to its predecessors.
Exterior styling is crisper and carries body accents that emphasise the more stylish appearance. LED lights, including the large Renault “C” daylight running lights, all sit atop a set of 18-inch alloys with 225/60 R18 rubber completing the package.
The interior styling features satin finishes, soft touch surfaces and lots of leather. The dashboard and centre console, which houses an 8.7-inch touch screen, are well designed and ergonomically efficient providing a user-friendly driver’s position. Seating is leather covered and provides good lateral support, as well as being extremely comfortable.
The Dynamique models feature an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. The cabin is spacious for both front and rear passengers and cargo load is reasonable at 464 litres. Utilise the 60:40 split folding rear seats and it can be expanded to 1 795 litres. Both safety and the overall specifications are far too numerous to detail here. But take a look on the web and you will be very pleasantly surprised at what you get as standard on this one.
But it’s all about the driving experience and it’s an area that the new Koleos once again surprises in. With the X-Tronic CVT and the intelligent 4WD system, it is as at home on the dirt as it is on the highway. Although you should not classify the Koleos as an off roader, reasonable approach and departure angles and a claimed 210 mm of ground clearance allow you to tackle rough roads. Renault uses a selector switch for the drive mode system, It’s clever and very simple to use. Default is FWD only, then 4WD auto
which drives through the front wheels until the system detects a loss of grip and then shifts some of the drive to the rear, enhancing grip and stability. Then, for the determined off-road experience, there is 4WD Lock which provides equal drive to both front and rear axles. This works up to 40 km/h where it will automatically switch back to 4WD auto.
To allow even more driver input, the CVT has an option converting the transmission to a seven-speed sequential type feeling gearbox.
Ride quality, steering and handling are very good, and the cabin imparts a luxurious atmosphere, smooth and quiet. But under hard acceleration the normally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine becomes a mite intrusive.
With 126kW of power and 233Nm of torque it is difficult to understand why that engine seems to work so hard to reach a higher speed when overtaking. Fuel consumption is claimed at 8.8-litres per 100km, but I only managed around 9.5litres per 100km. It is priced at R479 900.