Expert Reviews

First Drive: Renault Koleos

Thursday 22 June 2017

First Drive: Renault Koleos

With the Koleos, Renault is venturing into unchartered territory. While this car’s predecessor was more of a compact SUV, the second-generation model moves the nameplate into the bigger D-segment and sits atop Renault’s crossover range.

The new Koleos SUV, which was unveiled at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show, is based on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail. However, the Renault is oftened only as a five-seater, whereas the Nissan has a seven-seat option.

Looks & Image

Renault’s designers told us that the decision not to offer a seven-seat variant was in part because it wanted to give the Koleos a more upmarket and stylish appearance. Whatever your stance on the ‘form over function’ debate, you have to admit that this is a striking SUV.

While you wouldn’t normally associate the Renault brand with luxury, the Koleos certainly looks like it could cut it at the higher end of the market. However, the interior can’t quite cash the cheques that the Koleos’ exterior is writing.

There’s leather upholstery and some upmarket mod-cons such as heated seats and satnav, but the presence of some cheap plastics ruins things somewhat. Considering the Koleos starts at a weighty £27,500 in the UK, you’d expect more for your money, especially if you compare it to rivals such as the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008.

Space & Practicality

At least you won’t be left wanting for space though. There’s plenty of head and shoulder room for front passengers, while even taller adults will sit comfortably in the back.

Where the five-seat-only layout really comes into its own is that it results in a massive boot. At 579 litres it’s a bit bigger than most rivals, and offers 14 litres more than the Nissan X-Trail.

Behind the Wheel

Surprisingly, the Renault Koleos doesn’t feel as well sorted out on the road as the Nissan X-Trail on which it is based. The steering set-up is a bit less direct and feels more detached from the front wheels – it rolled through corners too much, too.

The ride is fairly composed, but our test route near Helsinki in Finland featured a lot of poor road surfaces that showed up the Koleos’ weaknesses. The large 19-inch alloy wheels also give off quite a lot of road noise – opt for smaller wheels for a quieter, more composed ride.

Value for Money

The Koleos is quite an expensive proposition for this segment, starting at £27,500, with the lack of a seven-seat option making that harder to stomach.

Standard specification is generous, with entry level Dynamique S models getting a panoramic glass sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels and Renault’s seven-inch infotainment system.

The top-spec Signature Nav models starts at £29,000 and get bigger 19-inch alloy wheels, generous lashings of leather inside and a larger infotainment screen at 8.7 inches.

Who would buy one ?

Those looking for a stylish, slightly left-field SUV will find the Koleos mighty appealing. With dashing looks and a comfortable interior, it will appeal to many families – though the asking price might be off-putting.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Renault Koleos Signature Nav dCi 130
Base price: £31,900
Engine tested: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel
Power: 128bhp
Torque: 320Nm
Max speed: 115mph
0-60mph: 11.2 seconds
MPG: 57.6
Emissions: 128g/km

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