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Richard Berry road tests and reviews the new Renault Koleos Intense with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Renault has taken a good thing and made it Frencher. The good thing is the Nissan X-Trail and Renault has used its underpinnings as the basis of its second-generation Koleos. See, the Renault-Nissan alliance has been around since 1999, and it means that when the French company wanted an SUV (most car makers need one these days) it has been able to take advantage of the Japanese brand's 80 years of SUV know-how.
The first-generation Koleos came out in 2008 and it too was based on the X-Trail. This new Koleos is entirely new and shares the latest X-Trail's platform, engine and transmission, but there are some fairly major differences between it and its not-so-identical Japanese twin.
Our test vehicle was the top Intens specification – it's the four-wheel drive king of the range and a good showcase of what Renault reckons is missing from an X-Trail.
So has Renault ruined a perfectly good SUV? Or is it a tasty recipe of tough reliable mechanicals with European beauty?
|Renault Koleos 2016: Intens (4x4)|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Park the Koleos next to an X-Trail and there's a few vague similarities, but if you didn't know they were related you wouldn't pick it because the body shape differences are fairly major.
The X-Trail is more curvaceous from its turned-down nose and wraparound headlights to its flowing wheel arches and tailgate. The Koelos is bolder, squarer and more upright from that dominating grille and those dramatic C-shaped LED running lights to the muscly guards and sleek taillights. There's a different treatment to profile of the car and even the window shape and size as they run towards the rear of the SUV is more sleek.
The Koleos's dimensions reveal more differences. For starters it has grown in length compared to the previous Koleos by 152mm for a total of 4672mm end to end. That also makes it 72mm longer than the X-Trail and standing at 1705mm tall it's 5mm lower than the Nissan.
The Renault's seats look luscious.
The wheelbase of both SUVs is the same at 2705mm – the important thing though is that this new Koleos is 15mm longer than before and that means more cabin space. Take knee room – at 289mm it's been increased by 77mm.
For the interior it's the straight lines of the French versus curves of the Japaense again. The Koleos has a cliff-like dash – all is square, sensible and typically European in its symmetrical design, while the X-Trail's dash is more rolling hills with its downward flowing and sweeping style. The orderliness of the Renault's dashboard just makes me feel much calmer.
The Intens grade comes with a standard 8.7-inch display in a portrait orientation – it's beautiful. The Renault's seats look luscious – in this spec you get factory-fitted Platinum Grey or Chestnut Brown leather.
Even at 191cm tall, I can now lounge like a king thanks to the the extra legroom in the second row – even when sitting behind my own driving position. My head, however, is close to the roof, sure I have Christopher Walken-big hair, but the combination of the panoramic sunroof and the reduction in roof height of the car may be causing this – it's no biggie though.
The Australian Koleos is a five-seater only and doesn't come with the third row option offered by the X-Trail.
Boot space is good at 458 litres. But wait, the luggage capacity of the five-seat X-Trail is 550 litres, and it's a shorter vehicle. Under the Koleos boot floor is another storage area that stretches the width of the boot good for wet clothes or muddy shoes.
In the cabin there's good storage with a large centre console bin and a deep lunch box-sized area for your wallet, phone, keys and other bits and pieces in front of the shifter.
There's two cupholders up front and two in the second row in the fold-down centre armest, while all doors have room for a small bottle.
There are three grades of Koleos with the $43,490 Intens 4x4 sitting at the top of the range which starts at $29,990 for the 4x2 Life before stepping up to the $33,990 4x2 Zen and $36,490 4x4 Zen.
The Koleos Intens's X-Trial equivalent is the 4x4 Ti which costs $1700 more at $45,190. It's in the features department that the Koleos edges ahead of it Japanese cousin which came out in 2014 and is now starting to date technologically.
The Koleos looks like a Renault, but drives like a Nissan X-Trail.
There's that 8.7-inch portrait screen with reversing camera, remote engine start, auto LED headlights, climate control AC, park assist, heated and ventilated power adjustable front seats, black leather upholstery, auto tailgate, 12-speaker Bose sound system (with CD player, MP3, radio and Bluetooth connectivity), panoramic sun roof, sat nav, tinted rear glass, roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels with a space saver spare.
The paint colour palette is a bit limited, but includes Meissen Blue, Ultra Silver, Mineral Beige, plus the imaginatively named Metallic Grey and Metallic Black. These all cost $1600, and only the solid white colour doesn't cost you extra.
The Koleos has a 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (no diesel) and a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Intens has an all-wheel drive system that can be manually switched between front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. There's also a four-wheel drive lock function which lets the driver select the mode when negotiating tough terrain. The Koleos also has a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg.
Our brand-new Koleos performed faultlessly on test, but if any issues crop up you'll probably find them here.
Renault claims the Intens should use an average of 8.1L/100km during combined driving conditions. During our mainly urban driving I saw 10.9L/100km on the dash, which is not bad given my often Hollywood car-chase driving style.
The Koleos looks like a Renault, but drives like a Nissan X-Trail. That's not a bad thing at all – the X-Trail is a proven piece of machinery that has scored well in our reviews. Making the experience more of a special one than the X-Trail is the Koleos Intens's premium cabin. From the large portrait touch screen, the seats and ambient lighting, the European styling and small tech luxuries.
Letting the mood down is the engine. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine seems to have to work hard to pull the Koleos, even when not carrying a load. Moving away after stopping on a steep hill saw the Koelos really working up a sweat. That engine is also loud and this noise finds its way into the cabin. The experience isn't helped by the CVT, which rather than providing firm shifts as a traditional torque converter unit does, the Koleos unit causes the engine to drone as the revs increase.
The size is felt in the handling.
As for off-road ability, while the Koleos is not designed for the Dakar Rally it does have Nissan's four-wheel drive DNA and it'll go further through the rough stuff than most city-orientated SUVs. The Koleos's ground clearance has been increased by 24mm to 210mm for its second generation – now the same as the X-Trail's.
Steering is accurate but the accelerator pedal is a tad too light for my liking.
The Koleos Intens feels big, but it'll squeeze itself into seemingly impossible car spaces with its excellent auto-parking system.
The size is felt in the handling, too. Front suspension is MacPherson struts up front while rear suspension uses a multi-link set-up. In this case, there's a bit of roll in the corners and while the ride is not bad, it's not as comfortable and composed as the styling and plush cabin of this SUV may suggest.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
The new Renault Koleos is yet to be rated by ANCAP, but there are six airbags including full-length curtains.
There's two ISOFIX points in the rear row on the outside seats and three top tether mounts for child seats.
Renault has an excellent customer support program in place. There's a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, five years road side assistance and servicing is capped at $299 for the first three annual (or 10,000km) services.
|Bose SE (4x2)||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$17,950 – 17,990||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Bose SE (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Bose SE Premium (4x4)||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$19,972 – 21,895||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Bose SE Premium (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Expression (4x2)||2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$14,850 – 19,580||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Expression (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Intens (4x4)||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$32,990 – 34,990||2016 Renault Koleos 2016 Intens (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|
“Renault has done an excellent job in styling the Koleos – inside and out this SUV is stunning. Using Nissan excellent hardware underneath means it doesn't just look good either. There's a lack of refinement in the ride and the engine could do with more grunt at times, but for day-to-day urban use with the occasional adventure on dirt or gravel the Koleos is perfectly fine. The value for money is excellent, especially with the Intens – cheaper than the top of the range X-Trail with more features.”
Has Renault done enough with its Koleos to tempt you away from an X-Trail? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.