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Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Renault Koleos with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
Fashion is a fickle thing... and it's something that the car industry is singularly ill-equipped to react quickly to. In an era where a trend can come and go in months, a car manufacturer has to think in terms of five- to eight-year lifecycles.
The move towards SUVs gives a good example of how picking a trend can pay dividends – and how missing the boat can be game-changing. Toyota picked the trend with its RAV4, for example, while Holden read the tea leaves completely wrong, leaving it with a product line dominated by large sedans that people were moving away from.
While Renault didn't miss the bus completely, it's had to soldier on with the mid-size Koleos for eight years now, which is two lifetimes in the car game. Thankfully, its alliance with Nissan has allowed it to jump right to the front of the queue with the gen-two version.
|Renault Koleos 2016: Expression (4x2)|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The new five-seat, five-door Koleos SUV is built on top of the three-year-old Nissan X Trail's Common Family Module (CFM) platform, and uses some of the same sheet metal pressings (the roof, for example, and the door skins). It's actually slightly longer, wider and taller than the X Trail, too.
Renault hasn't thrown the baby out with the bathwater, using the same door handles, roof rails and other fittings to save on development costs. The wing mirrors are different in design, as are the alloys.
Even though it's a close relative of the X Trail, the Koleos has been injected with Renault's own take on the interior.
The front and rear ends are unique to the Koleos, which becomes Renault's largest SUV to date. It's actually designed to complement the Talisman sedan, a Europe-only sedan that won't come to Australia.
The three-model range uses LED daytime lamps and taillights throughout, with the top-end Intens scoring LED headlights as well.
Even though it's a close relative of the X Trail, the Koleos has been injected with Renault's own take on the interior. The dashboard and front console is based on the design of the upcoming Megane, for example, while the seating and interior trim is also unique to the Koleos.
The capacitive touchscreen in the centre console – a seven-inch horizontal screen on the entry-level Life and mid-spec Zen, and an 8.7-inch vertical screen on the range-topping Intens – is a real feature of the cabin, and it controls a vast array of the car's functions via an interface that's as easy as using your tablet or smartphone.
Maps can be swiped or pinch-zoomed, for example, and a pin can be dropped on a map simply by touching it.
It's very clever and in-depth, but it can be a bit tricky to use while on the go. It can be customised to suit, though, to bring the most used functions to the front page.
A digital screen also takes pride of place in the instrument binnacle and replaces the traditional array of analog dials.
Rear seat passengers are especially well catered for, with almost 300mm more leg room compared to the older car.
USB ports aren't a trend that Renault is going to miss out on this time around, with the base- and mid-grade models scoring two ports up front as well as a 12v socket. The Intens adds another pair of ports for rear seat passengers too.
The pair of cupholders in the front of the Koleos are offset to each other, and can hold a large coffee cup each. The Intens even offers cooling or heating cupholders for your drinks. There's also a pair of cupholders in the rear centre armrest, along with stowage for bottles in all doors.
There are two ISOFIX seat mounts on the outermost rear seats, too.
Because the Koleos is strictly a five-seat/two seat row affair, it frees up an enormous amount of room in both the front and back. Rear seat passengers are especially well catered for, with almost 300mm more leg room compared to the older car.
In fact, even though the Koleos stays in the same mid-size SUV category as rivals like the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and the X-Trail, it moves from being the smallest car in the category to the biggest.
The rear seats can be tumbled forward via levers in the rear cargo area, revealing a category leading luggage area of 1690 litres. There's 468 litres when the seats are in position, and there's the option of a foot-operated auto tailgate, too.
The Koleos kicks off at $29,990 before on-road costs for the front-wheel drive Life, and tops out with the full-fruit all-wheel-drive Intens at $43,490.
The mid-grade Zen can be had in front wheel drive form at $33,990, or $36,490 in AWD guise.
The Life is pretty well equipped for the price, and considering its size. It comes standard with dual zone air conditioning, auto lights and wipers, front and rear fog lights, LED taillights, rear parking sensors and camera, but misses out on things like the rear seat tumbler levers.
It also gets cloth trim and 17-inch alloys with Nexen tyres, which were tested extensively on local terrain before Renault Australia would agree to fit them.
It does, unfortunately, miss out on most modern electronic safety aids, including AEB. They can't even be optioned on the car.
The Zen adds navigation to its centre screen, heated seats, tumbling rear seats, artificial leather trim, tinted rear glass and 18-inch rims. An optional safety pack comprising AEB, blind spot monitoring and a forward collision warning system is also available (the cost is yet to be confirmed by Renault).
The range-topping Intens adds those optional safety items along with remote start, heated rear seats and rear USB ports, hands-free powered tailgate, black leather (grey and brown leather is available as a no-cost option), Bose audio, LED cabin lighting, larger navigation and media screen and a sunroof.
There's just one engine and transmission combo available on the Australian-delivered Koleos; the 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine from the previous model has been tweaked and tuned for the new version.
The all-alloy motor makes the same power (126kW) and torque (226Nm) as before, though fuel economy has improved and emissions are lower.
A diesel version will join the range mid-way through next year, according to Renault.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Koleo's manners on both sealed and unsealed surfaces.
The single gearbox on offer is a continuously variable unit that offers a manual override mode of sorts via the gear shifter. It's not as crisp as ones we've recently tried in cars like the Subaru Levorg, but the once-maligned transmission is improving with every generation.
The all-wheel-drive system on the Koleos Zen and Intens is used widely across Renault and Nissan, and can be activated via a switch on the dash to the left of the steering wheel to switch between all- and front-wheel drive.
AWD mode automatically splits torque between the front and rear as required, while at slow speeds in slippery conditions, a third mode called 4WD Lock allows the driver to select permanent all-wheel drive that's active only up to 40km/h.
Fuel consumption has improved to 8.1 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle for the front-driver and 8.3L/100km on the AWD models. This is almost a litre per 100km better than this engine managed in the last generation of car.
And despite being larger in all dimensions, it's actually lighter by some 20kg on average across the board, compared to the outgoing model.
It has a 60-litre fuel tank, and regular unleaded is suitable.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Koleo's manners on both sealed and unsealed surfaces. Its suspension tune strikes a great balance between active and cosseting, while its steering feel is impressively neutral and comfortable.
It's not noisy at all in the cabin, though the non-turbo engine needs a bit of a thrashing to bring the Koleos up to freeway or passing speeds. Coarse chip roads also impart a bit of a thrum, but the Nexen tyres held their own across various types of surfaces during our 300km test.
It's comfortable in the cabin, too, with great seats and loads of space front and back for larger passengers, as well as plenty of spaces and places to stash phones, food and bottles.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Six airbags (including full-length curtain airbags), a rear-view camera and parking sensors are standard across the Koleos range.
A safety pack of electronic safety aids is optioanal for the mid-grade Zen and standard on the Intens, but the base Life will miss out on AEB, lane departure warning and the like.
The Koleos is yet to be rated by ANCAP, and Renault Australia expects the car to earn its local rating from Euro NCAP data.
Renault is offering a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty (including 24-hour roadside assistance) with the Koleos, as well as fixed priced servicing offer of $299 for each of the first three services, which are recommended at yearly intervals or at 30,000km.
Renault needs to bolster its bottom line with some serious volume players, and the Koleos could be the car to do it.
It's a handsome, comfortable, roomy mid-size SUV with enough clever features and (just) enough performance to spring a surprise on a few others in the category.
|Bose SE (4x2)||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$18,888 – 18,999||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Bose SE (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Bose SE Premium (4x4)||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$18,370 – 23,210||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Bose SE Premium (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Expression (4x2)||2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$14,080 – 18,480||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Expression (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Intens (4x4)||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$26,888 – 37,999||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Intens (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|