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Renault Koleos


Haval H2

Summary

Renault Koleos

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Haval H2

The H2 is the littlest vehicle made by the biggest Chinese SUV company, Haval, and it competes against the likes of Honda’s HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, and Mazda's CX-3. Being Chinese, the H2 is more affordable than its rivals, but is it more than just a good price? 

In 15 years time, the concept of me explaining to you how to pronounce Haval and what it is may seem as cute and ridiculous as me doing the same for Hyundai now. 

That's how big the brand could become in Australia. The company is owned by Great Wall Motors, which is China’s largest maker of SUVs, and anything that's big in Chinese terms is truly massive (have you seen their Wall?).

The H2 is the littlest Haval SUV and competes against the likes of Honda’s HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, and Mazda's CX-3.

If you’ve done a bit of research you’ll have noticed that the H2 is more affordable than those rivals, but is it more than just a good price? Do you get what you pay for, and if so what is it you’re getting, and what are you missing?

I drove the H2 Premium 4x2 to find out.

Oh, and you pronounce 'Haval' the same way you say 'travel'. Now you know.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Renault Koleos7.1/10

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.


Haval H26/10

It’s disappointing that a car which looks so damned good can be let down by its interior refinement and driveability issues. In some areas, the H2 is great and goes further than its rivals – tinted windows, a full-sized spare, sunroof and good rear legroom. But the HR-V, Kona, C-HR and CX-3 have set the standard high for build quality and driving experience, and in this regard the H2’s isn’t at the same level.

The H2 is more affordable that its rivals but is that enough to tempt you out of a CX-3 or HR-V? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 

Design

Renault Koleos7/10

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.

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.


Haval H27/10

If you squint, the H2 looks a bit like a BMW SUV and that may be because BMW’s former head of design, Pierre Leclercq, led the H2’s styling team (it's worth pointing out that if you squint hard enough, I look like Robert Downey Jnr).

He’s now moved on to Kia but has left behind a pretty darn good-looking H2. I would even argue that the H2 is what the BMW X1 should look like, instead of that long-nosed, humpy-looking hatch.

The H2 is small, at 4335mm long, 1814mm wide and 1695mm tall, but it’s bigger than nearly all of its rivals. The Kona is 4165mm long, the HR-V is 4294mm end-to-end and the CX-3 is 4275. Only the C-HR is longer at 4360mm.

Interior refinement could be better and it’s not on the same level as its Japanese competitors. Still, I like the design of the cockpit with its symmetry, the layout of controls is also considered and easy to reach, the hood over the instrument cluster is cool and I even like the opal-like milky finish on the dashboard trim.

Practicality

Renault Koleos7/10

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.

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.


Haval H27/10

The H2’s 300-litre boot capacity is small in comparison to its rivals. The Honda HR-V has a 437-litre boot, the C-HR’s is 377 litres and the Kona’s is 361 litres, but it does have more luggage space than the CX-3, which can only manage 264 litres.

That said, only the H2 has a full-sized spare wheel under the boot floor – so what you lose in luggage capacity you gain in being able to drive wherever you like without fear of a puncture and having to hobble to the next town 400km away on a wheel which can only handle 80km/h. 

Inside storage is good, with bottle holders in all the doors and two cupholders in the back and two in the front. The tiny hidey hole in dash is more ash tray-sized, which makes sense because of the cigarette lighter next to it, and the centre console bin under the front centre armrest is a reasonable size.

The H2’s cabin is spacious, with good head, shoulder and legroom up front and the same goes for the back row, where I can sit behind my driving position with about 40mm to spare between my knees and the seat back.

Price and features

Renault Koleos7/10

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.

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.


Haval H26/10

At the time of writing the H2 Premium 4x2 petrol could be had for a driveaway price of $24,990, which is a $3500 discount on the RRP, according to Haval. 

You could, of course, be reading this in the year 2089, having just survived another nuclear winter in your impenetrable mountain compound, so it's best to check the Haval website to see if the offer is still valid.

Ignore the word 'Premium', because this 4x2 is the most affordable H2 you can buy, and $24,990 drive-away sounds amazing, but a quick look reveals that many small SUV rivals are also offering deals.

The Honda HR-V VTi 2WD lists for $24,990, but can currently be had for $26,990 driveway; the Toyota C-HR 2WD is $28,990 and $31,990 drive-away, while the Hyundai Kona Active lists for $24,500, or $26,990 drive-away.

So, buy a H2 Premium and you’ll save about $2000 over a Kona or HR-V, which is an attractive prospect for families where every cent counts. 

The features list also ticks most of the typical boxes for this end of the segment. There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with reversing camera, four-speaker stereo, rear parking sensors, auto halogen headlights, LED DRLs, sunroof, auto wipers, air-conditioning, fabric seats and 18-inch alloy wheels.

So on paper (or on screen) the H2 stacks up well, but in reality I found the quality of the features wasn’t as high as those in the HR-V, Kona or C-HR. 

You should know that the H2’s display screen, while largish, feels and looks cheap, and required several finger stabs to select items. The windscreen wipers were overly noisy, the indicators themselves didn’t ‘blink’ in a regular pattern, and the phone system had a delay when a connection was made, which resulted in me saying 'hello' but not being heard at the other end of the line. This caused a few arguments between my wife and I, and no car is worth that. Oh, and the sound of the stereo isn’t great, but there is a cigarette lighter.

Engine & trans

Renault Koleos7/10

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 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.


Haval H24/10

Were you planning to take this off-road? Well, maybe reconsider that because the Haval H2 is only available now in front-wheel drive and comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, so there's no manual gearbox option.

The engine is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol (you can’t get a diesel) which makes 110kW/210Nm.

Turbo lag is my biggest issue with the H2. At revs above 2500rpm you’re fine , but below this if you plant your foot if feels as though you could count to five before the grunt appears. 

Fuel consumption

Renault Koleos7/10

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.


Haval H25/10

The H2 is thirsty. Haval says over a combination of urban and open roads you should see the H2 using 9.0L/100km. My trip computer said I was averaging 11.2L/100km.

The H2 needs 95 RON, too, while many of the rivals will happily drink 91 RON.

Driving

Renault Koleos7/10

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.

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.


Haval H24/10

There’s a fair bit to say here but if you don’t have long the upshot is this: the H2’s driving experience falls short of what has now become the norm in this segment. 

I can look past a seating position that feels too high even on the lowest setting. I can ignore indicators which don’t ‘blink’ in a regular rhythmn or windscreen wipers that clunk loudly. Or even headlights that aren’t as bright as LED or Xenon, but the turbo lag, uncomfortable ride and less than impressive braking response are a deal breaker for me.

First, the turbo lag at low revs is frustrating. A right turn at a T-intersection needed me to move quickly from a standstill, but planting my right foot saw the H2 dawdling out into the middle of the junction and me waiting frantically for the grunt to arrive as traffic approached. 

While handling isn’t bad for a small SUV, the ride is overly busy; a jiggly feeling that suggests the spring and damper set-up is less than great. Other car companies tune their vehicle suspension for Australian roads.

And while emergency braking tests show the H2 had automatic activated hazard lights, I feel the brake response to be weaker than its rivals.

Steep hills are not the H2’s friend, either, and it struggled to climb an incline other SUVs in this class have scampered up easily.

Safety

Renault Koleos7/10

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.


Haval H27/10

Haval wants you to know its H2 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating and while it has disc brakes, traction and stability control and airbags galore, I want you to know that  it was tested last year and doesn’t come with advanced safety equipment such as AEB.

A full-sized spare wheel is also safety equipment in my eyes – the H2 has one under the boot floor, something its rivals can’t claim.

Ownership

Renault Koleos8/10

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.


Haval H28/10

The H2 is covered by Haval’s five-year/100,000km warranty. There’s also a five-year, 24-hour roadside assistance service, which is covered in the cost of the vehicle. 

The first service is recommended at the six-month mark, and then every 12 months thereafter. Prices are capped at $255 for the first, $385 for the next, $415 for the third, $385 for the fourth and $490 for fifth.