Renault Koleos VS Suzuki S-Cross
- Huge interior
- Good safety package
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Life's foot-operated park brake
- Top model's a bit pricey
- LED headlights
- Easy and fun to drive
- Leather seats
- That face
- No AEB
- Same engine as the base 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|
Suzuki is a well-known brand that makes some of Australia’s favourite cars. There’s the Vitara, the Swift, and the Jimny, but what the heck is an S-Cross?
So, has this forgotten Suzuki missed out on the ‘magic dust’ the Japanese brand seems to sprinkle on many of its cars to make them pleasantly surprising to drive?
I found out when one came to live with my family for a week.
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
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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.
I thought I didn’t really understand the S-Cross. Was it an SUV or just a tall car? How can it exist in a line-up where the Vitara can already do the same job really well? Why does it still wear an SX4 badge? Why does it have that face? The answers are pretty obvious to me now – it fits nicely into that zone of having the high driving position of an SUV without being a thirsty little off-roader, yet still offers the space and practicality of one.
Combine that with being enjoyable and easy to drive and it’s hard to understand why sales of it aren’t as high as they should be. Maybe it’s that face? As for the SX4 badge, I’m waiting to hear back from Suzuki on that one.
Is Suzuki a brand that excites you, or just not on your radar? Tell us why in the comments section 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.
I like quirky-looking cars, but the styling of the S-Cross, in places, challenges even me. I’m talking about that gleaming grille, which looks like a big, shiny metal mouth full of teeth (even though its plastic).
Then there are those is-it-an-SUV-or-not looks. The answer is in the name: the S-Cross is a crossover between a hatchback and an SUV. It’s not offensive looking by any means, if anything the S-Cross is quite stately and premium in style – it’s just that face I have trouble moving past.
What’s the SX4 badge doing on the back? Well it’s a mystery. The S-Cross used to be called the SX4, but Suzuki kept the badge, even after it renamed the car. Strange but true. Interestingly, the same SX4 and S-Cross double badge is also worn by the car in Italy, but not India. That bit of dinner-party ammo will be sure to impress your friends. Also interesting is that the S-Cross is front-wheel-drive only – despite what SX4 might suggest.
What are the S-Cross’s dimensions? It’s not big, at 4300mm long, 1785mm wide and 1585mm tall. That fairly diminutive size made the S-Cross easy to park in city streets and also hassle free to pilot in tight laneways.
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.
Small on the outside, pretty big on the inside. That is one of the S-Cross’s strong points. Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 20mm of space between my knees and the seatback. Head room back there is getting a little tight for me, though.
The S-Cross is a five-seater but being in the middle in the back isn’t the best seat in the house – then again, I’ve yet to review a single car where it is.
The cargo capacity of the boot in the S-Cross is an excellent 430 litres with under floor storage and two side wells to pop small items that might be wet or things you don’t want to roll around. With the rear seats down that expands to 875 litres to the window line or 1269 litres to the roof.
Cabin storage in the S-Cross Turbo Prestige is great with two cupholders in the fold-down rear armrest and another two up front. There’s a deep centre-console bin with a USB port, another deep bucket in front of the shifter housing a 12V outlet; and big bottle holders in the doors.
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.
The Suzuki S-Cross comes in two grades: the entry-level Turbo for $27,990 and the top-of-the-range Turbo Prestige, which we tested, that lists for $29,990.
Turbo Prestige; sounds fast and fancy. So, is it worth parting with $2K more, and what’s prestige about it?
Two grand is a lot at this price point, and seeing as you get the same engine, same safety and same in-car tech in both grades, it's fair to say that if spending the extra dough for the Turbo Prestige is going to break the budget, you shouldn't fret.
That said, there are three good reasons for stepping up to the Turbo Prestige: rear parking sensors, auto LED headlights and leather seats. There are also the 17-inch polished alloy wheels, daytime running lights and rain-sensing wipers as part of the step up.
Other standard features on the Turbo Prestige include a touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control and roof rails. Those features, by the way, are all standard on the Turbo, too.
Either way, the S-Cross is good value regardless of which of the two grades you buy.
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.
The S-Cross Turbo Prestige has a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine making 103kW and 220Nm, which is a decent amount of mumbo for a sedate-looking car like this.
That’s the only engine on offer for the entire S-Cross range, so don’t think you’re getting more grunt just by steeping up to the king-of-the-castle Turbo Prestige. Likewise, the six-speed automatic is shared across both grades and while it isn’t spectacularly sporty, it’s a million times better than any personality-free CVT automatic that other car companies tend to put in SUVs like this.
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.
After 177km I measured the S-Cross Turbo Prestige’s fuel consumption at the petrol station and found its mileage to be 7.3L/100km. Not bad considering that while some of that was free-flowing motorways, there were many slow kilometres of peak-hour traffic in there, too.
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.
If cars looked as good as they drove, the S-Cross would be a lot sexier to look at. The engine, the transmission, the balance and feel are far better in the S-Cross than you’d expect or hope for in a car from this segment. Don’t get too excited, it’s no sportscar or limo, just more of a pleasant surprise.
Good visibility through those large windows and a high driving position made the S-Cross easy to pilot through carparks and in traffic. Comfortable, supportive seats, great pedal feel from the brakes underneath my foot, a responsive engine with good torque, plus steering with great feel complete a package that pleased this tester.
That said, I’m not giving it an eight out of 10, because a score like that is reserved for something approaching superb on-road performance.
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 S-Cross received the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in, wait for it… 2013. It’s now 2019 and there’s no way the S-Cross would be given that score now. I’m not saying it’s unsafe - far from it - all the S-Cross is now missing is the advanced safety equipment which has become part of the essential criteria of attaining that maximum score in 2019. I’m talking about auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection and other systems such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
That said, the S-Cross has seven airbags, plus ABS, traction and stability control. Just keep in mind that there are other cars for this price with more advanced safety tech.
I trusted the S-Cross with my own child’s life without any hesitation, and you can, too, with three top-tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row for child and baby seats.
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.
Suzuki automatically covers the S-Cross with a three-year/100,000km warranty, but if you service it every six months for five years with the capped-price program, you’ll be eligible for a five-year/140,000km warranty. Check with your dealer regarding the ins and outs of this, however.
According to Suzuki, you can expect to pay $175 each time for the first three services (at six months/10,000km intervals) then $359 for the next, then $175 for the 30-month service.