Motoring

Renault Koleos worth a second look

If you are in the market for a mid-sized SUV then you have a rather large variety of options to choose from. One option that has been around for several years now is the Renault Koleos.

Renault has recently added an electronic handbrake to the car and believe it or not but one arrived at the Autodealer office a few months ago for us to sample. After I sampled the electronic handbrake one might expect the test to be over but there is a lot to like about this car and I think it needs a bit more exposure so here it goes. The Koleos shares its underpinnings with the popular Nissan X-Trail and offers five seats, not seven as some would expect and tend to focus more on overall luxury and comfort than carrying capacity. The Koleos goes head-to-head with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 which has recently been updated, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V to name a few.

Handsome design

To be honest I never really noticed the previous Koleos, it just didn’t catch my eye. This new one though looks a lot better and features modern styling in the form of a more recognizable front grille and rounded off edges and the new signature Renault C-shaped headlights. It is a handsome looking machine with subtle styling features that add a sense of class to the overall design. It is also quite large and features a ground clearance of around 210mm. At the rear, the Koleos features a similar taillight design to that found on the new Renault Megane.

Big on space

From the moment that I got into the Koleos, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the interior is. The quality is relatively good with the addition of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and doors, comfortable seats and an ergonomic facia. The design of the dashboard is very much similar to that of the current Megane in that it features the same portrait infotainment screen. The overall functionality of the screen and its features is ok however there are still some issues with simplicity. Nevertheless, the system offers Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay. Rear occupants benefit from around 289mm of legroom. The boot will take up to around 464-litre of luggage from the floor to the height of the rear seats. If you opt to pack it to the roof then you can expect around 700-litres of space, drop the rear seats and increases to  1 700-litres. There is also around 34-litre of space which is offered via various storage compartments throughout the interior.

What powers it?

A naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine develops 126 kW and 233 N.m of torque under the bonnet. The power is sent to the front wheels via a clever CVT gearbox which has been programmed to sound and feel like a conventional automatic. My test unit was the flagship 4WD Auto Dynamique derivative which lets the system decide to which wheel to send the power to. I saw an average of 5% going to the rear, but at one point it shot up to 30% on a gravel road. When the going gets tough there is a 4WD Lock selection which locks the drive into a 50/50 split between the front and rear axles. This mode however only functions up to a speed of 40kph.

Verdict

Overall the Koleos offers respectable ride quality, a spacious interior and good looks and at R499 900 for the flagship, it offers reasonable value. I would, however, like to see a diesel derivative as this makes more sense than a somewhat thirsty 2.5-litre engine that tends to suffer when power is needed. That said though, the electronic handbrake works a treat.

 

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