First Drive: Renault Koleos
Renault’s luxurious flagship has several roles to fill, explains Alex Grant.
SECTOR: SUV PRICE: £27,500-£34,200 FUEL: 47.9-57.6mpg CO2: 128-156g/km
Renault’s recent sales growth owes a lot to its expanding crossover line-up. Its UK sales have doubled since the Captur launched in 2013, and, while vast improvements elsewhere certainly help, more than half its UK customers were in Capturs and Kadjars last year. So, has that range come on enough to revive the Koleos?
This is an area Renault has ventured into before. The previous Koleos was, like this car, a D-segment soft-roader, and launched just as Nissan brought the first Qashqai to market. But it didn’t find anywhere near the same following, eventually disappearing when Renault slimmed its model range at the end of 2012. A departure quiet enough that the new one is almost starting from scratch.
This looks more promising. It’s styled to match the handsome Talisman – the Laguna’s replacement, which isn’t sold in the UK – and positioned to take what would have been that car’s space in the range. It’s Renault’s return to the D-segment, so almost all customers will be new to the brand, and half will go to fleets.
Predictably, the platform is shared with the Nissan X-Trail, though this is a wider car. It’s the same size as an Audi Q5, so bigger than a Honda CR-V, smaller than a Ford Edge, and similar to a Skoda Kodiaq. However, despite Renault’s background in MPVs, it’s only offered with five seats; it’s pitched as more as a high-riding estate than a people-mover.
The UK will get a diesel-only line-up; 128bhp 1.6-litre and 175bhp 2.0-litre engines from the X-Trail, the latter with four-wheel drive and an optional continuously-variable automatic gearbox from Nissan, rather than Renault’s double-clutch unit. Neither offers particularly brisk performance, though the bigger engine feels more suited to a car of this size. However, the four-band BiK increase and price uplift could push company car drivers towards the just-about-enough small diesel instead.
Of course, based on demand, the Koleos may eventually dip further into the X-Trail’s engine options; the 163bhp, 45.6mpg 1.6-litre petrol turbo could suit some drivers, as could the 175bhp, AWD hybrid from the Rogue, as it’s badged in North America. Diesel may be the dominant fuel in this segment, but best-in-range CO2 emissions of 128g/km and no two-wheel drive automatic version could limit its appeal.
Which would be a shame, because the new customers it’s hoping to attract would find that the Koleos reflects a rapidly-improving product range. Material quality feels worlds apart from its predecessor, and equipment is generous. Both UK trim levels include a panoramic roof, hands-free entry and start, and the portrait touchscreen infotainment system from the Megane, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, anyone who is upsizing from the Kadjar may be disappointed to find that it offers no extra boot space.
Overall, though, the Koleos is a far better fit for UK tastes than its predecessor. It looks and feels upmarket, it’s quiet and composed at speed, and generously equipped. But, with a limited engine range and no seven-seat version, it’s got some tough competition – premium and mainstream – to fend off in this segment.