I drove the Nissan version of the five-seat Renault/Nissan SUV just under two years ago (you can catch that review here) and remember it as being an impressive offering.
The Renault Koleos carries over many of these pleasing attributes.
Prices for the Renault SUV start from $29,990 and there are three specification levels available – Life, Zen and Intens.
While all-wheel drive is available for an additional $2,500 on the mid-spec Zen grade and is standard on the flagship Intens offering.
I had the front-wheel drive Renault Koleos Zen to test drive for a week and came away quite impressed, albeit there are a couple of things that are unique to the French offering (which is actually built in South Korea).
Firstly, much of the interior is quite different in the Renault. These changes include the console shape and lay-out, the instrument cluster and centre control area.
Overall, despite my perennial concerns about French interior design, the new Koleos is a pleasant place to sit.
The seats are comfortable and the seating position is comfortable and everything has a quality feel to it.
The A-pillars (as noted in the X-TRAIL review) are quite sizeable and this presents some forward ¾ and side vision issues, just be extra careful, especially at T-intersections.
I also felt that the climate control area was a little awkward, the buttons are quite tiny and the lay-out not as straight-forward as it could be.
One other complaint was the grab handles located towards the front of the console. I found these to be a bit intrusive and hard as I rested my left leg against the one on the driver’s side.
While don’t expect to be handed a regular car key with your new Koleos, the model comes with a credit card sized control pad.
Perhaps not as handy as a regular key, due to not being able to be added to your house keys, the card system would work well in a ladies handbag with the door-handle lock/unlock buttons and push button ignition not requiring any actual handling of the ‘key’.
The all-digital speedometer/driver info screen is a plus and the touchscreen infotainment system gets a tick of approval.
One issue though that I had with the sat-nav was that it didn’t find a street within a suburb that I needed to go to – this was odd as Google Maps on my phone had no trouble with the address.
Perhaps I would have had more luck finding the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris than a street in Chester Hill, Sydney!
Better than decent front and rear legroom and a generously sized boot complete the interior.
On the road, the Renault Koleos (and the Nissan X-TRAIL) have a very firm and bullet-proof type feel.
The body structure is extremely stiff and there isn’t a rattle to be heard.
The Koleos rides along well on suburban streets and on the highway too, while wind noise is at a minimum and the engine is also quiet/cabin well insulated.
The 2.5 litre engine is a good all-rounder and works well enough with the CVT.
It certainly isn’t the fastest vehicle in the world from a dead stop, but for most SUV buyers it will more than do the job.
At the moment, the Nissan version is outselling the Renault by about 8 units to 1, however the Koleos is gaining more Australian buyers in recent times and I can certainly see why.
At this stage the only clear area where the Nissan has the advantage is that the ‘Japanese’ one offers an optional turbo-diesel engine.
While the Renault gets a five-year warranty, two years more than the Nissan.
With all the smarts and (generally) the usability of the Nissan X-TRAIL, Renault has injected a bit of French flair into a well-priced, nicely featured and enjoyable SUV package.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Renault Koleos Zen 4×2
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol producing 126kW and 226Nm
Transmission: CVT automatic
Safety: Not tested
Warranty: Five years
Origin: South Korea
Price: Zen 4×2 from $33,990