We have always admired the Renault Koleos for being just that little bit different to others in the medium SUV class. Koleos’ touch of French flair appeals to us, so the 2014 facelift, as well as minor price reductions, gave us a good excuse to again spend a week behind the wheel of this French-designed SUV.
As well as the bold new face, following the all-new theme introduced in the Renault Clio last year, the new Renault Koleos, now tagged the Phase 3 Koleos also has new designs of alloy wheels and chromed side protective strips.
Inside are new trim designs as well as the option of brown leather upholstery. Brown is the new black in automotive Europe at present and it’s good to see it making its way downunder. This interesting shade is also offered on the body.
The upgrade also included new two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, front parking sensors, keyless start and an automatic dimming interior mirror.
There’s a redesigned audio interface and a new 7-inch touchscreen navigation system with multimedia functions. Priced from $34,990 and based on the Dynamique trim level, the Koleos Bose Edition we tested has a digital amplifier and seven speakers, including a subwoofer. For the 2014 upgrade, the Koleos Bose models have integrated satellite navigation operated from a touchscreen.
The Bose has a recommended price of $35,490 for the 4x2 petrol automatic, $38,990 for the 4x4 petrol auto and $40,490 for the 4x4 diesel auto. The latter was our test vehicle.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel has been revised to increase its power by 17kW, now maxing out at 127kW. Torque has gone from an already good 320Nm to an impressive 360Nm. Koleos diesel models come with the choice of six-speed manual or six-speed auto. Ours had the automatic transmission.
The all-wheel-drive system, where fitted – there’s also a cheaper 2WD in some models – was developed in conjunction with Renault's partner Nissan. The Japanese giant has had many decades of experience in this field and there's a fair bit of Nissan Dualis underneath the Renault Koleos.
Renault has long been a leader in the safety stakes and Koleos has ESP and ABS as standard. The car boasts a five-star Euro NCAP crash test result, using dual front, dual side and curtain airbags.
Koleos is spacious inside with large comfortable front seats and a rear bench that’s capable of carrying three adults in reasonable comfort. Two grownups or three children is a more practical load.
The rear tailgate is a clever split design that lets you open only the upper portion when in crowded shopping centre carparks. The lower part hinges to a horizontal surface that’s ideal for sitting on when at sporting events and suchlike.
Though the boot is relatively large from front to rear the sleek slope of the roof limits the size of boxy items, especially if the rear seats are in use, so can’t be folded down.
The 66/34 split rear seat gives you a number of choices. The front passenger seat-back to be folded flat, allowing loads as long as 2.6 metres to be carried safe from the weather.
Fuel economy from the diesel is pretty good. The 2.0-litre unit will generally use about seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres in the country and about eight to ten litres when used in the suburban maelstrom.
On the road this is a very quiet car when used on smooth roads and doesn’t become objectionably louder even on Australia's notorious coarse-chip surfaces. It is well insulated from road noise and mechanical noise is heavily muffled. However, one stretch of country road brought up a slight booming of the type that used to plague station wagons, but which is a rarity these days.
Handling is good for a vehicle of this type. The high centre of gravity takes away any sporting pretensions, but the Koleos turns in promptly and holds the road well. Safe understeer will take over if you push really hard, but who hammers a vehicle of this type?
Renault Koleos has good ground clearance and approach and departure angles, so can be taken onto beaches and rough tracks to satisfy the needs of families who like to explore.