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Renault Koleos 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.1
The Renault Koleos puts a French spin on the mid-size SUV, using the underpinnings of its Nissan X-Trail stablemate as a base.

Renault's Koleos doesn't quite know what it is. This second-generation SUV from the French giant is also the second one built largely around the Nissan X-Trail, taking much of its mechanicals. The French flair, a key purchasing decision for many Renault owners, must come from the design, ride and handling, right?

In a market swamped with cars of this type, using a donor car is an economically sensible way to get things done. The risk is turning out a car with the badge of one manufacturer on the front but the character of another behind it.

Renault Koleos 2018: Intens (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.3L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$34,800

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

As always with our comparison articles, every price you see is straight from the manufacturer's price list and are RRP. Of course, how much you actually pay is between you and your dealer.

  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.

There are three models in the Koleos range - Life, Zen and Intens. 

Pricing kicks off at $30,990 for the Life. For that you score 17-inch alloys, an eight-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, remote central locking, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers, cornering lamps, cloth trim, power windows, heated and powered rear vision mirrors and a space-saver spare.

The multimedia system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The multimedia system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The multimedia system features the usual AM/FM radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Life doesn't have a navigation system, so your phone's GPS sat nav will have to do, which is fine if you've got data.

Next up is the Zen starting at $35,490 for the front-wheel drive (FWD) and $37,990 for the all-wheel drive (AWD). To the Life's spec list you can add 18-inch alloys, keyless entry and start (via Renault's smart key card), front parking sensors, heated and cooled front cupholders, electric driver's seat, sat nav, heated front seats, fake leather seats, sunroof, electric parking brake and roof rails.

The Intens is available in petrol ($44,990) and diesel ($47,490). On top the Zen spec you can expect a 12-speaker stereo, side parking sensors, heated and ventilated electric front seats, auto LED headlights, partial leather seats, power tailgate and auto parking.

There are eight colours - all cost $880 extra. There are eight colours - all cost $880 extra.

Accessories include floor mats, at an eyebrow-raising $118.72, coloured key shells, boot liners, a towbar for over a grand, cargo barrier, bicycle carriers and the evergreen mudflap.

Not available are a bull bar or nudge bar or a body kit - unless you count the side steps.

There are eight colours - 'Mineral Beige', 'Metallic Black', 'Meissen Blue', 'Metallic Grey', 'Marron Red', 'Ultra Silver' and 'Universal White' all cost $880 extra. Only 'Solid White' is a freebie. McLaren Renault fans will be disappointed there's no 'Papaya Orange' option.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Like Batman, the Koleos is a product of its origin story. That's not to say it's a weird orphan billionaire with a rubber fetish (although it has tyres, I guess) but that it was always going to turn out this way.

  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.

At first glance, it looks like a Renault, especially from the front, with the big C-shaped daytime running lights. Once in profile, though, it could be pretty much anything but it becomes more Renault at the rear again. So it stands out front and back but not so much from the side, which is unusual for a Renault. But then, it's a Nissan-based car built in South Korea, so it was always going to be a compromise.

Interior images show a mainstream design with a decent-sized screen but little in the way of French detailing. I'm a fan of Renault interiors generally even if they're not ergonomic masterpieces. This interior is certainly not as brave as its compatriot, the recently-arrived Peugeot 5008.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

How many seats? Five, all across the range. Renault is still left without a seven-seat SUV in the Australian market.

For a Renault, the Koleos has a fairly conventional interior partly because it's based on another car. That means it has proper cupholders (the French are really bad at those), two up front and two in the back. Each door has a bottleholder, for a total of four.

  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.
  • 2018 Renault Koleos. 2018 Renault Koleos.

Front seat passengers do very nicely indeed, with some models adding things like armrests for extra lounge chair comfort. The rear seat is spacious, with good leg and headroom, with room for three kids.

Boot space is generous - the Koleos is a big car. The luggage capacity starts at 458 litres, rising to 1690 litres with the rear seats down. The load area is a good size and shape, the packaging maximising the impressive interior dimensions. The glove box is large enough to hold the huge owners manual.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

There are two engines available in the Koleos range. The Life, Intens, Zen and S Edition (a limited run version of approximately 360 units, based on the Intens) are all available with Renault-Nissan's 2.5-litre petrol automatic

The Life is 4x2 only while the Zen and Intens are 4x4 only. The diesel is only available in the Intens.

The 2.5-litre produces 126kW/226Nm, propelling the non-AWD cars from 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds, which is reasonable acceleration performance for a car of this size and weight (1552kg). The 56kg heavier AWD petrols will reach the ton in 9.8 seconds.

The Koleos comes with Nissan's favoured continuous variable transmission (CVT). The Koleos comes with Nissan's favoured continuous variable transmission (CVT).

The turbo-diesel is a 2.0-litre motor and despite the smaller engine size than the petrol, puts out more power at 130kW and a substantially more torque at 380Nm. Zero to 100km/h is dispatched in 9.5 seconds.

Whether front or AWD, petrol or diesel, the Koleos comes not with an automatic transmission but Nissan's favoured continuously variable transmission (CVT). There is no manual gearbox or LPG option.

According to Renault's specifications, the braked towing capacity is rated at 2000kg for the petrol and, curiously, 1650kg for the diesel. That does seem strange given the extra horsepower and torque, but there you are.

As to whether the engines feature a timing belt or chain, both are lower maintenance chain-driven engines. As yet, there is not a battery powered or hybrid version.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

As usual, the official fuel consumption figures are off by around 30 percent, which is about right. On the upside, the Koleos drinks only standard 91 RON for the petrol.

The two-wheel drive petrols will return 8.1L/100km while the AWD petrols a little more at 8.3L/100km. Diesel mileage is about 25 percent better at 6.1L/100km.

Given those figures, fuel economy is hardly going to decide whether you go for the 4x4 versions. A quick review of previous Koleos stories yields figures of 10.9L/100km for the heaviest petrol, the Intens. I recently drove the 4x2 Life and got just over 11.0L/100km.

Fuel tank capacity is the same petrol vs diesel at 60 litres.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Koleos leaves South Korea with six airbags, ABS, stability (ESP) and traction controls, brake force distribution, forward AEB, reverse camera, forward collision warning and lane departure warning. There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether restraints.

The Zen and Intens also feature blind spot warning and side parking sensors.

Since its 2016 introduction, ANCAP has not got around to crash testing the Renault for a safety rating. EuroNCAP has and awarded a five star rating in September 2017 with a safety spec identical to the Intens.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

To cover off any problems or issues, Renault offers a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and up to four years' roadside assist. Service costs are capped for the first three years and on both petrol and diesel, service intervals are an impressive 12 months/30,000km.

Pricing for the first three services is capped at $349 for the petrol and $369 for the diesel. That's a genuine bargain, with extra costs like filters laid out on the website.

As with its X Trail sister car, reliability appears to be excellent with few common faults. A run around the usual internet forums didn't uncover any common engine problems.

Resale value is slightly below that of its Japanese donor car, but depreciation doesn't seem as steep as some other Renaults.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Koleos, as I've already established, is built on the X Trail's guts and really feels very similar. That means if you're buying the Koleos hoping it feels like a Renault, you're out of luck. And that's not because it can't be done, it just didn't make much sense to do so. It's different to the X-Trail, but not massively so. It doesn't feel French.

While it's no ball of fire, it handles tidily, isn't actually as slow as it feels and is otherwise a pleasant car to be in. While it's no ball of fire, it handles tidily, isn't actually as slow as it feels and is otherwise a pleasant car to be in.

Part of that is the CVT. While not the worst of its type fitted to a car in recent times, it makes the Koleos feel slow and a bit dim-witted. In normal driving it's perfectly fine and the noise suppression keeps the lawn mower effect to reasonable levels, but ask a little more of the transmission and it's not really ready for it.

And that's a great pity. While it's no ball of fire, it handles tidily, isn't actually as slow as it feels and is otherwise a pleasant car to be in. 

Another complaint are the Life's tyres - they're not very good and could do with a bit more grip in damp conditions. Felt very odd to be losing traction accelerating gently out of corners.

The Koleos' off road ability isn't on trial here, but it's more than competent in the rough and slippy stuff when fitted with the AWD system. It certainly has the suspension travel, 21cm ground clearance and cosseting ride in all specs that you might expect from an off-roader.

Verdict

The Koleos is a sort of left-field choice, really, and that's probably not very fair. It's a proper mainstream car from a manufacturer that has been around longer than most, built on a proven platform.

It is, however, different enough for you to take notice. It looks good, has a bit of presence when viewed from either end and you can say you've got a Renault. It's only problem is it seems to be having and identity crisis.

Are you tempted by a proven SUV package with a Gallic point of difference? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$33,990
Based on 179 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$24,950
Highest Price
$48,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
INITIALE (4x4) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $38,990 – 46,990 2018 RENAULT KOLEOS 2018 INITIALE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Intens (4x4) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $34,800 – 48,990 2018 RENAULT KOLEOS 2018 Intens (4x4) Pricing and Specs
INTENS S-EDITION (4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $39,989 – 44,870 2018 RENAULT KOLEOS 2018 INTENS S-EDITION (4x2) Pricing and Specs
INTENS S-EDITION X-TRONIC(4x2) 2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $34,540 – 41,140 2018 RENAULT KOLEOS 2018 INTENS S-EDITION X-TRONIC(4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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