In the family of Renault, the Duster has probably taken more than its fair share of the local limelight, certainly moving attention downstream from the range flagship Koleos – completely revamped earlier this year and tweaked slightly a month ago.
While Koleos, because of its high-end status, is a somewhat more niche market seller, it is still a game player in a highly competitive segment and sometimes overlooked by potential buyers because of the bonnet badge status of some of its competitors.
The revised Koleos is a carefully strategized product that completes the styling renaissance of the Renault range that began with Clio in 2012.
To quote Laurens van den Acker, Senior Vice President, Corporate Design: “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.”
This is evident from the exterior where the front and rear lights replicate the full LED lighting signature, that is now instantly distinguishable as part of the Renault design language.
Furthermore, Koleos packs all the SUV styling codes associated with the segment, including taut lines that combine a rugged stance with head-turning looks, along with side protective mouldings and large-diameter alloy wheels (Up to 18-inch).
In June, there were further product enhancements to the Koleos Dynamique versions, namely the addition of a hands free Power Tailgate and Electronic Parking Brake.
However, revises to the interior of the Koleos were, perhaps, the most significant of the changes to the new model with due care given to improving seat comfort and improving rear leg room through the use of a scalloped seat back on the front seats.
The Koleos features a satin-finish chrome for the steering wheel inserts, gear lever and air vent surrounds, along with cushion-backed materials for the dashboard and door panels.
There is customisable LED cabin lighting, with a palette of hues ranging from green and blue, to yellow, red or violet, to complement the mood of the driver and / or passengers and the front cup holder can be chilled or heated.
Vehicle entry is facilitated by the wide aperture of the doors – amongst the widest in New Koleos’s class (front doors: 70 degrees/ rear doors 77 degrees) and the design of the doors protects the sills from soiling and protects passengers clothing from getting dirty when entering or exiting the car.
By having one of the longest wheelbases in its class, (2 710 mm and overall length: 4 670 mm) frees up occupant space so rear passengers get 289 mm of knee room
The 464-litre boot features a removable floor positioned at the same height as the sill to form a flat floor that houses a full size spare wheel. With the 60/40-split rear bench folded total carrying capacity rises to 1 795 litres.
In terms of safety, the Koleos offers six crash bags, Satellite Sensors to detect lateral impact early, G Sensors – 2 on the side, and 1 on the front, Seat Track Position Sensor that controls crash bag deployment by seat track position and a seat belt reminder.
Standard safety features also includes anti-lock brakes with EBD, EBA, ESP and ASR along with cornering fog lights, electrochromic rear-view mirror, blind spot warning and park assist.
The Koleos is powered by a 2,5-litre petrol engine with a power output of 126 kW, 233 Nm of Torque, CO2 emissions of 188 g/100 km and fuel consumption from 8,8 l/100 km.
All well and good so far!
That power and torque are then fed through a CVT gearbox – not my favourite piece of technology and this Renault box did little to change that.
Despite improvement to the X-Tronic transmission and Renault’s insistence it performs more like a multi-ratio automatic, I still found it unpleasantly ‘whiny’ under acceleration and with a tendency to hunt ratios – although this can be overcome for more spirited or off-road driving through the 7-speed sequential manual mode.
It is extremely capable of the beaten track – not for ‘donga diving’ – but taking those dirt roads less travelled and here, the manual option is a great help for keeping the revs where they needed or being used for engine braking on slippery descents.
On the open road, it is a comfortable cruiser with the long haul in mind – the raised driving position giving a commanding view of the road up ahead.
The ALL MODE 4×4-i transmission permanently monitors grip levels to guarantee optimal traction whatever the conditions and, unlike many competitor models, Koleos continues to feature a control switch that allows drivers to choose the transmission mode.
In 4WD AUTO mode, sensors permanently monitor both longitudinal and lateral acceleration, as well as steering angles and this information is processed to optimise front/rear torque split (from 100/0 to 50/50) to provide the most efficient grip possible to help eliminate understeer and oversteer.
As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the 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.