Renault Koleos VS BMW X1
- Huge interior
- Good safety package
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Life's foot-operated park brake
- Top model's a bit pricey
- Roomy cabin
- Big boot
- Easy to drive
- No AEB
- Small screen in all but the top grade
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.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The BMW X1 is the base camp at the foot of the German brand’s SUV model mountain, but there's more to it than entry-point affordability.
And there are many other surprises from this small and seemingly sensible and small member of BMW’s X family.
Want to know more? Then read this range review of the X1.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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.
The X1 is a small, sensible, practical member of BMW’s SUV family – it’s also the most affordable and the value for money is good. But don’t worry, the X1 is a real BMW, right down to the driving dynamics and craftmanship.
The sweet spot in the X1 range is actually the entry grade sDrive18i as it comes with nearly all the features you'll see on the rest for a lot less money.
The X1 is up against some tough competition. Would you choose a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 over an X1? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
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.
Nope the X1 is the sensible one in the family and in many ways this is a strength and you can read all about its practical side below.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a prestige car and it looks it outside and inside where the premium feeling interior is well-crafted.
Take a look at the interior images. BMW fans will know the dash layout well – that large centre stack of climate control and media, but the scooped-out centre console design is new to this generation and looks great.
All X1s come fitted with the 'xLine' package which adds Pearl Dark and Peal Chrome trim elements, and aluminium door sills.
At 4439mm long, 2060mm wide (with mirrors) and 1598mm tall, the X1 is 79mm longer end-to-end than the X2, about the same width, and 70mm taller. So yes, the dimensions - exterior and interior - show that even though the X2 sits higher in the SUV line-up, the X1 is bigger in size.
An M Sport package can be optioned for $3000 and adds a tough-looking body kit with side skirts and a more aggressive front bumper, plus adaptive dampers and sport seats.
Only two paint colours are no-cost options – 'Alpine White' and black, but both look great. Metallic paint will cost you $1547, but ticking that box unlocks more colours such as 'Sunset Orange', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Atlantic Grey', 'Sparkling Brown' and 'Glacier Silver', but no red.
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.
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.
Now we’re talking. The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which is a mini people mover and inherits many of its good practicality points. That’s one of the reasons why the X1 has more head and legroom in the front and back than an X3.
Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare and could wear a top hat at the same time.
Okay, boot space dimensions. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres, but that’s 35 litres more than the boot size of the X2. A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres.
Storage throughout the cabin is great with two cupholders in the back and two up front, large bottle holders in the doors, fold-out storage in the back row and a tray under the centre armrest in the front.
If you have small children or you’re not the gymnast you used to be you’ll like the ride height of the X1 – it’s not sky-high like many large SUVs and you’re not sitting on the ground; you almost walk in and shut the door.
Price and features
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.
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 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.
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.
How much does the X1 cost? Let’s take a look at the price list. The X1 is the most affordable model in BMW’s SUV line-up and kicks off with the sDrive18i ($45,900 RRP), stepping up to the only diesel in the range, the sDrive18d ($49,900), followed by the sDrive20i ($53,600) and the top-of-the-range, and only all-wheel drive (AWD) variant, the xDrive25i ($61,500). Dealerships will often do driveaway deals and don’t be afraid to ask for their best price.
How much are second hand X1s going for? Well, at the time of writing there were four 2016 model X1s on carsguide.com.au, including an xDrive25i listed for $44,888. That should give you an idea about the X1’s resale value, too.
An inside tip on BMW SUVs is that the lower grades in the range come with most of the standard features you’ll find on the top-spec models, so really, the extra dollars buy you an engine with more grunt or AWD, which improves the on-road experience.
Here I’ll show you. The entry grade sDrive18i, and its diesel twin the sDrive18d, come standard with LED cornering headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (roof racks), a power tailgate, auto parking system (self parking/park assist), front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.
Inside, these grades have a leather sports steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cargo cover and floor mats.
The sDrive20i has all of this and adds dual-zone climate control, a luggage net, a dimming rear view mirror and an ambient lighting package.
If you want to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, you can option the $1627 panoramic sunroof.
Engine & trans
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 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.
Remember the pricing and how the features didn’t seem to match the dollars? Well here’s where a lot of your money goes – drivetrains. Oh, and by the way, the ‘s’ in sDrive means the SUV is front-wheel drive while the ‘x’ xDrive means, yes, it’s an AWD.
The sDrive18i has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and makes 103kW/220Nm. Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. BMW says the 0-100km/h ‘sprint’ takes a leisurely 9.6 seconds.
The sDrive18d is the diesel version of the 18i and its 2.0-litre four cylinder makes 110kW/330Nm. According to BMW 0-100km/h arrives in a slightly brisker 9.2 seconds. An eight-speed traditional auto shifts more smoothly but slower than the dual clutch.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 141kW/280Nm, using the same seven-speed dual clutch as the 18i. The 20i is noticeably quicker with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.
Want something faster, more powerful and AWD? The xDrive25i also has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder but it’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm and is more than a second quicker to 100km/h than the 20i at 6.5 seconds. Shifting gears is BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic.
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.
Well it depends how you drive it, but officially BMW says the 18i uses 5.4L/100km, the diesel 18d is the most frugal at 4.7L/100km, while the 20i is thirstier at 6.2L/100km and the 25i is (as expected) even more so at 6.6L/100km.
When we drove the 18d our mainly urban use saw the trip computer reporting an average 10.6L/100km, while the top-of-the-range 25i used an average of 12.1L/100km in a week of city-centric duties.
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.
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.
You could pick any of these X1s to take home and you’ll be happy with the driving experience. From the 18i to the 25i the ride is comfortable and composed, but the performance varies depending on which grade you’re piloting.
The 18d’s diesel engine is a bit noisy, but the cabin insulation cuts most of the clatter out. The 18d's tyres grip well in the corners, but while the steering feels smooth and accurate, it lacks road feel, and that goes for all X1s and many BMWs in general. Still, all X1s are engaging and easy to drive.
Does the 18d feel like it lacks grunt? Nope, 330Nm is heaps. It’s a shame we don’t get the 18d in AWD. Our steep test hill saw the 18d struggle to maintain traction under hard accleration, while the all-paw 25i powered up with no wheel spinning.
The 20i like the 18i and 18d is front-wheel drive only, but unless you’re accelerating hard uphill or in the wet from a standstill you're not likely to notice.
All X1s have hill start assist which will stop you from rolling back on steep gradients.
The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited.
A turning circle (radius) of 11.4m is about par for the small SUV course.
A ground clearance of 183mm gives it an extra 20mm over say a BMW 3 Series, which is just enough to get you places a sedan would fear to tread.
What’s the X1’s wading depth? Wait, what? Where are you thinking of taking it? If you must ford a river (please try to find a bridge instead), the wading depth of the X1 is 250mm.
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.
The X1 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. You’ll find the usual traction and stability controls, plus a suite of airbags, as well as lane departure and forward collision warning.
But it doesn’t come with AEB or other advanced safety equipment such as blind spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert. This is a weakness for the X1, because this type of technology is becoming common place.
For child and baby car seats there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
Where is the X1 built? The X1 is made in Germany at BMW’s Leipzig plant.
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.
The X1 is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition based servicing and maintenance means your X1 will tell you when it needs a check-up. Owners can purchase a servicing package. The 'Basic' package costs $1340 while the 'Plus' package is $2500 more.