6 August 2018

Renault Koleos 2018 Car Review

The first Koleos — revealed at the Geneva motor show back in 2000 – looked and felt more like a glorified hatchback than a true SUV. Based on Nissan’s Qashqai, it was a pleasant, if unassuming car with a slightly more elegant feel and finish than its Japanese originator, on a relatively compact footprint.

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Renault Koleos
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Renault Koleos
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Renault Koleos
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Renault Koleos
Koleos Interior 1
Renault Koleos
Koleos Interior 2
Renault Koleos

This second generation is noticeably bigger, and delivers a potent lesson in globalization in that it’s an SUV with a French badge debuted in China and built in Korea – at Samsung’s Busan factory.

It now sits on a bigger platform, shared with today’s Nissan X-Trail, but now with a design displaying considerable flair, and a clear link to Renault cues.
New Zealand sees five versions ranging in price from $39,990 for the base Zen to $56,990 for the diesel Intens range-topper, with this Intens Sport at $54,990.

At a casual glance these handsome lines, the chrome embellishments, the little French flags and, above all, those head-turning 22-inch Gunmetal wheels ensure this Renault comes across as more executive express than anything you’d take off road.

Koleos arrives with both petrol and diesel options, with our Sport test car being fitted with the 2.5-litre petrol mated to a CVT auto and Renault’s all-wheel-drive set-up, all shared with X-Trail. The four-paw system can deliver anywhere from zero to 50 per cent of available urge to the rear wheels, and if you wish you can view which wheels are doing how much work via a wee icon on the instrument panel, where you’ll see that the set-up defaults to front drive when conditions allow.

You can lock it into 2WD with economy in mind, but given wintery conditions we mostly opted for auto, hitting 4wd lock a few times for steep, wet gravel driveway ascents, as tiny gravel ridges after our first climb hinted that auto is a whisker reactive, and none of our passengers wished to get out and smooth our wheeltracks to soothe our host.

But what really impressed our tester was the supple suspension, particularly over the country roads we frequented with their stippling of slumps and lumps, and a regular serving of speed humps which Koleos was able to take a whisker faster than most SUVs, while remaining much more settled than the majority.

Despite its length Koleos comes with five seats only, the result being it feels really spacious inside, with a roomy boot, one-touch easy-folding second-row seats and, most notably, plenty of leg room – this is the ideal vehicle for the parents of teenage basketball players.

The cabin looks as much executive express as the exterior, though at first glance the dash fitted to this Sport seems a little too simple. That’s because many functions you’re used to accessing via dials and buttons are here available using the large touch screen, and others are tucked out of sight, if not reach.

Like other Renaults, for example, you switch the cruise on via a button well away from the other controls – then set, reduce or increase speed on the steering wheel–mounted buttons, while a stalk tucked just behind the wheel manages one-touch volume, hands-free phone access and the like, confusing when you first hop in, but easy to use and quickly intuitive for most.

Cutting the number of buttons and dials stippling the dash accentuates the design features of the stitchery, ‘Sport’ logo embroidery and the restrained chrome trim lines.

And that big, 8.7-inch touch screen front and centre gives a really clear view when using satvav or reversing, and lets you tailor your environment relatively easily by scrolling through the menus. Pick from a short list of ambient lighting colours, several versions of how you view the instruments, and even whether you’d like that centre screen printed in light text on dark, or dark text on a light background.

Other features include Parking assistance, cruise control, dual-zone climate air, a 12-speaker Bose audio system, cooled (!) front cupholders, an ECO mode to save fuel, an electric panoramic sunroof that opens, heated and ventilated front seats trimmed in leather – chestnut brown is a colour option – and privacy glass.

If you’re a bit of a vehicular conservative you may take a while to get used to some of Renault’s quirky instrument placings, but many buyers will love feeling a little bit different, without paying a penalty in terms inconvenience – once you’re familiar with how it all works.

Handsome, refined, roomy – you’d think this Renault would fly out the door. However this is a crowded segment, made harder for the French brand by the presence of VW Group’s restrained Tiguan, and Skoda’s Kodiaq – New Zealand’s most recent Car of the Year. 

At a glance


 Renault Koleos Intens 4x4 Sport





ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 126kW at 6000rpm, 226kW at 4400rpm


 CVT auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

2000kg (braked)



Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

458/1690 litres

Safety systems

Six airbags

Cornering function fog lights

Bluetooth hands-free phone

Blind spot warning

Auto headlights

Parking snesors and rear view camera

Easy Assist parking assitance

Lane departure warning

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