Renault was late coming to the SUV scene, but when it did arrive it did so with quite a bang in the form of the Koleos. Given its association with Nissan and access to the Japanese carmaker's off-road expertise it was inevitable that Renault would build an SUV. It was also a given that when it did it would be a competent off-roader.
The Koleos was something of an international traveler in the auto world being the product of the French-Japanese alliance between Nissan and Renault and built in Korea by Renault Samsung Motors.
While the Koleos was based on the Nissan X-Trail and used the same all-mode 4x4 running gear from the X-Trail it brought a touch of French flair to the SUV scene.
At first glance you would not have guessed the five-seater Koleos wagon was a close corporate cousin of the X-Trail, it had a fresh, attractive look that clearly set it apart from the more conservative looking Nissan.
Renault introduced the Koleos with two levels of trim, the entry level Dynamique and the better-equipped Privilege, with 4x4 and 4x2 petrol and diesel models.
The petrol engine was a 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit producing 126 kW at 6000 revs and 226 Nm at 4400 revs, while the 2.0-litre turbodiesel was available in two tune variants depending on the transmission choice.
When linked to the manual gearbox it put out 127 kW and 360 Nm, but was detuned to take care of the auto and put out 110 kW and 4400 Nm in that combination.
Renault cleverly offered the Koleos in two-wheel drive form, in which it was a regular front driver, or four-wheel drive form when it had Nissan's all-wheel drive 4x4-i system. With the 4x4 system the Koleos could be driven in two-wheel drive mode, auto or four-wheel drive with a switch.
In auto mode, it ran in front-wheel drive until the system detected wheel slip when it would begin driving the rear wheels as well. The maximum torque split between front and rear wheels was set at 50 percent.
The transmission choices were a six-speed manual gearbox, a six-speed auto, and a CVT continuously variable transmission. The cabin was stylish and modern, and quite roomy, although tall occupants would find the rear a little cramped.
The fit and finish was generally of a good standard, and the materials used looked and felt of a decent quality.
ON THE LOT
Pay $19,000-$31,000 for a Dynamique, or $28,000-$38,000 for a Privilege.
IN THE SHOP
The feedback from the field is that little is troubling Koleos owners to date, which is a good sign that they are in for a reliable run. Nissan X-Trail mechanical package isn't giving any indication of having problems and that should translate across to the Koleos as well.
While the Koleos is unlikely to find its way off the black top it's still a wise move to check underneath for damage that might have been caused by going bush.
Also make the usual checks for a regular service routine, and crash repairs to the body.
IN A CRASH
With standard front, side and head airbags, stability control, and ABS anti-lock braking the Koleos was well placed to cope with a crash. ANCAP gave it five out of five stars in its crash testing.
UNDER THE PUMP
Renault claimed the Koleos would do between 7.2 L/100 km (diesel) and 9.9 L/100 km (petrol). Carsguide readers report that on average they get 8.2 L/100 km from the diesel and 10.8 L/100 km from the petrol version.
Dara and her husband Brian were looking at a Nissan X-Trail before discovering the Koleos. They bought the Renault and say they love everything about it. It is great to drive, very quiet, the radio and speakers are excellent, and there is plenty of legroom for six- footers like Brian.
David says his 2009 diesel manual Koleos has light steering, but a woeful turning circle, the seats are a bit flat and he would like more rear legroom. To date, with 40,000 km on the odo, it has been largely trouble free. His only issue has been blocking of the DPF filter, which was fixed with a dealer forced regeneration and an ECU upgrade so it doesn't get blocked again. Dealer servicing isn't Toyota cheap, but isn't BMW dear either.
Paul Burke's Koleos is his third Renault, and he says he has had no trouble with any of them. With five alloys, heated electric seats, choice of leather colour, and a split tailgate shopping is great particularly for oldies. The 2.5-litre auto cruises well and is so quiet, the sound system is unbelievable, and it runs on standard fuel.
- Fresh stylish look
- Choice of petrol or diesel
- Proven Nissan mechanicals
- Roomy cabin
ALSO CHECK THESE
VW TIGUAN 2008-2009: Well engineered, drives like a car, refined and best of all it's built by the Germans. Pay $25,000-$38,000.
SUBARU FORESTER 2008-2009: Larger than its predecessor, with a roomier cabin and larger boot space, with proven engines, gearboxes and drivetrain, and capable off-road. Pay $19,000-$42,000.
TOYOTA RAV4 2008-2009: No longer the cheeky funster. It's larger, with more passenger room and a larger boot, has good on-road manners and performance. Pay $20,000-$41,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Stylish French wagon with proven Japanese mechanical package makes for an attractive SUV package. 80/100