Koleos 150dCi Privilege
new Koleos SUV has hit
streets. For loyal Renault
customers wanting a Sports
its arrival means they can now buy
one without deserting the brand.
For other SUV buyers, its
to sample something different...
THE KOLEOS IS RENAULT'S FIRST SUV or crossover model. It arrives in
the UK five years after the start of its alliance with Nissan and four years
after the founding of Renault Samsung Motors in Korea. Renault designed the
concept and provides diesel engines; Nissan supplied 4x4 technology and provides
petrol engines and Renault Samsung Motors in Korea build the Koleos
for world markets.
The new Koleos SUV joins the market in a month when UK sales of Sports Utility
Vehicles (and all 4x4s) have fallen by 42%. The credit crunch, high fuel prices
and the social move away by some buyers has hit sales of all-terrain vehicles
pretty hard. However, if it hadn't been for the introduction of several new
medium-sized models to the SUV sector such as the Ford Kuga, Volkswagen
Tiguan and, as reviewed here, the Renault Koleos the figures would be
Priced from £17,995, the Koleos also has to compete against the likes of the
well established Land Rover Freelander, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, not to mention
its Renault-Nissan family members the Qashqai and X-Trail. Like the Qashqai,
there are also two-wheel drive models in the Koleos range for people who want
SUV styling and practicality of space but really do not need four-wheel drive.
The five-door Koleos was designed to look like a 4x4 but without the aggressive
appearance pleasing without being ostentatious. And it comes with a Euro
NCAP five-star safety rating.
Ease of driving, practical interior space and compact dimensions are the Koleos'
main features. For those who feel 4x4s have no place in today's congested motoring
world, the Koleos (at just 4,520mm in length) is no more cumbersome than a Ford
Focus Estate, which makes it just as easy to park and, with an overall height
of 1,710mm, it can cope happily with access to and from domestic garages and
multi-story car parks. It still has 188mm of ground clearance so, if required,
can cope with travelling off road.
With all the five seats in position, the Koleos has 450 litres of cargo space.
But fold down the rear seats and this goes up to 1,380 litres. Manual transmission
models can tow 2,000kgs, so overall it's a useful vehicle.
Although the Koleos range for other markets includes petrol engine options,
at this time two-thirds of sales in this SUV sector in the UK are for diesel
powered models. Which is why the Koleos comes with a choice of 2.0-litre diesel
units 150 or 175bhp. Two-wheel drive models are available with the 150bhp
engine; four-wheel drive versions are available with both. Six-speed manual
transmissions are standard but an optional six-speed automatic gearbox is available
with the 150bhp engine.
All four-wheel drive models automatically switch from two-wheel to four-wheel
drive whenever low grip conditions are detected, and also provide hill start
and descent control. A switch allows the driver to swap from two- to four-wheel
drive or, if it's easier, to leave it in its auto setting.
There are three trim and equipment levels on offer: Dynamique, Dynamique S and
Privilege. All models have air conditioning, speed limiter with cruise control,
electric front and rear windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and front fog
lights. Whilst the range-topping Privilege models are lavishly equipped (the
specification includes leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof), the sensible
buy is the mid-range Dynamic S costing £20,495 and is likely to be the
most popular and return the least loss in trade-in value in the future. Unfortunately
Renault has not included electronic stability control as standard on the entry-level
Dynamique variant, although it is included on the other two models.
In truth the Koleos brings nothing new to the SUV market but it does have some
pleasing aspects. For those customers wanting a tough off-roader with a premium
image, look no further than the Freelander or the BMW X3 and, soon, the Audi
Q5. What the Koleos offers is good stylish looks, practical passenger and load
space, refined diesel engines and a 4x4 system with enough all-terrain traction
for light off-road work or more likely better road grip in the
rain, ice and snow.
Because of the Koleos' falling rear roof line, headroom in the rear is quite
low for adults and the rear legroom is certainly not the best in this sector.
That said, it is comfortable and it does have a compliant suspension
not as rock-hard and unforgiving as heavy duty 4x4s. For everyday travel it
is a nice car to use. It looks good and drives and handles well enough for most
people. The road holding is average with some body roll and the steering a bit
slow and imprecise, but as a SUV package it will work well enough for the majority
The 150bhp dCi, four-cylinder turbodiesel common-rail engine is well known,
being used in the Renault Megane, Laguna and Espace as well as Nissan models.
It is very quiet, pretty refined, fuel efficient and responsive. Maximum torque
is 236lb ft from 2,000 but, as the gearing is quite high to achieve the
best fuel consumption and lowest CO2 levels full use does need to be
made of the six-speed gearbox on twisting country roads. The official average
fuel consumption is 38.7mpg and my 150bhp test model returned 34.4mpg. Emissions
are 191g/km which puts it in Band F, meaning £210 in road tax charges now; but
this is proposed to increase to £260 from April 2009.
Overall the Koleos is a welcome addition to the Renault range and it gives their
UK dealers an opportunity to retain loyal customers wanting to move to an SUV.
On the plus side it offers a smooth and responsive engine, good ride comfort
and flexible load/passenger carrying combinations. In addition, it's well equipped,
has a useful split rear tailgate function and looks smart.
While it lacks the ability and the image of already established mainstream SUV
competitors, about the only real grumble likely to be voiced by prospective
Koleos buyers will be concerning the tight rear head- and leg-room and, far
more relevant in our credit-crunched economy, unknown residual values in a falling
market. Certainly, on the declining open market it faces a tough task from the
established Freelander, CR-V, X-Trail, RAV4 and lots of others. Given that customers
can buy a new one or a pre-registered demonstrator at a discounted price
more easily in today's distressed market it could be a good buy. But
only if the price is right. David Miles
Renault Koleos 150dCi Privilege | £23,495
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Overall test MPG: 34.4mpg | Power: 150bhp | Torque: 236lb ft
CO2 191g/km | VED Band F £210 | Insurance group 10