The Renault Koleos Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×4 that stood out in glorious contrast to the green and yellow colours of the hedge alongside its parking bay in my yard during its test sojourn, presented a far more confident look than the history of the model may suggest.
The mid-size SUV was first presented as a concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in 2000 and then again in 2006 at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris and the first generation production model was designed by Renault and developed by Nissan.
However, generally poor sales saw the Koleos withdrawn from the UK market in 2010 with European production ending in 2015 with most believing it was the end for the car. Then, in 2016, a second generation was launched at the Beijing Motor Show and called Koleos despite pre-show rumours it would be the Maxthon.
The larger second generation Koleos used the Common Module Family (CMF-CD) modular platform developed jointly by Renault and Nissan and already used on similar vehicles as the third generation Nissan X-Trail and the Renault Kadjar.
Now, updated for 2019, the latest version is, in the words of Laurens van der Acker, senior vice president, Corporate Design: New Koleos completes the styling renaissance of the Renault range that began with Clio in 2012. As a designer, the challenge was to imagine an SUV that was not only elegant, but also dynamic and modern.
“To achieve this, instead of diluting the traits traditionally associated with SUVs, we accentuated the segment’s familiar cues thanks to taut, powerful, horizontal lines, along with muscular haunches and high ground clearance. New Koleos subsequently exudes an inner strength. It is every inch an SUV and every inch a Renault.”
Not half bad for a car resurrected from the scrapheap.
And, it is a worthwhile resurrection – the newest version clearly belonging to Renault’s high-end line-up, with bold exterior lines and dynamic stance on large alloy wheels.
Other design features include bright chrome front-end embellishments, extending the front of the headlight across the full length of the wing visually to lengthen the bonnet and taillights that wrap over the rear wings
The front and rear lights of the Koleos replicate the full LED lighting signature, that is now part of the Renault design language. Dependent on the version, New Koleos is available with Pure Vision Full LED main and dipped- beam lights.
The driving position ensures excellent visibility and the seat offers good thigh and lumbar support and is sufficiently adjustable to suit pretty much shape or size. The large, vertical, centrally positioned dashboard display (up to 8,7-inch) is fully integrated and provides access to settings and functions for the car.
It features customisable LED cabin lighting, with a palette of hues ranging from green and blue, to yellow, red or violet and the front cup holder can be chilled or heated. One thoughtful feature is the design of the doors that protects the sills from soiling and prevents passenger’s clothing from getting dirty when entering or exiting the car.
Koleos has one of the longest wheelbases in its class – 2,710 mm / overall length, 4,670 mm so the passenger compartment is comfortably roomy with rear passengers benefitting from knee room of 289 mm.
The 464-litre boot features a convenient removable floor positioned at the same height as the sill to form a flat floor that houses a full size spare wheel. Handles located in the boot enable the Easy Break system, allowing the 60/40-split rear bench to be folded instantly to free up a total carrying capacity of 1,795 litres.
That touchscreen has Renault R-Link2 functionality adding voice recognition for on-board GPS navigation, hands-free telephony and radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Rear Parking Camera.
There is a sense of well-planned fitment of luxury specification to the car, which has a welcoming feel from the moment you first take up your position behind the wheel. Things are just in the right place, easy to find and use and, with the ability to personalise the options, quick to set up just the way you want them.
If anything, my gripe is with the air-conditioning and fan controls integrated into the touchscreen and requiring extreme finesse to operate when bounding along an uncharted dirt track than more conventional switches.
The Koleos comes with six crash bags along with satellite sensors for early detection of lateral impact, G Sensors – 2 on the side and 1 on the front – and a Seat Track Position Sensor to control crash bag deployment by seat track position.
Also standard are anti-lock braking with EBD, EBA, ESP, ASR and HAS along with cornering Fog Lights, Blind Spot Warning and Park Assist.
With departure angles of 19 and 26 degrees respectively, the ALL MODE 4×4-i transmission allows drivers to choose the transmission mode – 2WD, 4WD AUTO or 4WS LOCK.
For daily commuting 2WD is the standard mode and the Eco function built into the car creates a small leafy tree on the left of the dashboard – more leaves and you are driving economically but floor the throttle and the leaves start falling off.
This is linked to the on-board computer that can show your overall economy versus time, including the number of kilometres travelled without using fuel and can be quite fun to watch as a traffic monotony breaker.
In 4WD AUTO mode, the ALL MODE 4×4-i system permanently analyses conditions and grip levels and uses the information provided by its sensors to calculate the ideal front/rear torque split. Up to 50% of available torque can be transmitted to the rear wheels if necessary.
When travelling off-road or in conditions where grip is at a premium, such as mud, dirt or sand, the 4WD LOCK mode allows the driver to engage permanent four-wheel drive at speeds of less than 40 km/h to distribute available torque equally between the front and rear axles (50/50). This mode is automatically disengaged at speeds of more than 40 km/h, or when the engine is re-started.
All of this happens through the X-Tronic CVT automatic transmission that was designed to perform more like a multi-ratio automatic whenever the driver needs to accelerate quickly. At the same time, this continuously variable transmission ensures seamless gearshifts when accelerating slightly, as in heavy traffic, for example.
My own personal dislike for CVT transmissions remains unchanged, but Renault have managed to produce one that whines far less than many others do and has reasonably rapid and positive shifts of ratio when required.
There is still a manual mode option and this, I found, is the best choice for off-road work both on fast smooth roads as well as for more intricate manoeuvres on rocky or muddy ground.
The 2,5-litre petrol engine powering the Koleos offers 126 kW, 233 Nm of Torque, CO2 emissions of 188g/100km and controlled fuel consumption from 8,8 l/100 km.
It is not an engine that stands out in the crowded market space in which the Koleos plays but it is one that delivers confidently and efficiently, being more than adequate for the tasks likely to set by owners.
As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the Renault Koleos comes standard with a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty; plus a 5-year/ 90 000 km service plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty, with service intervals at 15 000 km