Having been available on the market since 2008, the crossover Renault Koleos – while not having sold in abundance – has always had many attractive qualities, not least of which is its friendly and idiosyncratic appearance. In terms of looks, the Renault Koleos resembles a Clio with muscles from the front, but it is completely uniquely shaped (some have said ‘odd’) from the rear.
With a body style that is a hybrid of the Koleos and Egeus concept cars shown to the media as long ago as the year 2000, the Koleos actually uses the Nissan C platform, meaning that the Koleos also shares the same body underpinnings and all-wheel drive system as the Nissan X-Trail, representing Renault’s first attempt at a crossover compact 4x4.
Although most of the range utilises a 4x4 configuration, the base model Expression uses a two-wheel drive format. With a choice of three engines in the form of two diesels and one petrol engine, the Koleos is available with either 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearboxes, as well as a CVT (continual variable transmission) option.
The Koleos is available with a large array of standard safety equipment, having been awarded a five-star rating by the experts at ANCAP. In addition, the Koleos has a long list of standard kit, has an attractive interior, and is a comfortable ride.
As previously stated, the Renault Koleos is available with a choice of three engines, in the form of two diesel 2.0L diesel engines and a 2.5L 16V petrol engine.
The first diesel engine has a displacement of 1998cc, a power output of 110kW, a top speed of 190km/h, and an acceleration of 0-100km/h in 10.4 seconds. The second and most powerful of these two diesel engines also has a displacement of 1998cc, with an increased power output of 129kW and a top speed of 200km/h, reaching 0-100km/h in 9.8 seconds. Despite having the largest capacity, the 2.5L 16V petrol engine has the lowest top speed of all three engines at 180km/h, yet it has the quickest acceleration time, reaching 100km/h in 9.3 seconds.
Fuel economy is about average, but it is not as good as some rivals. Renault claims that the 2.0L 100kW diesel uses 7.5l/100km, but in tests it was shown to use significantly more at 8.9l/100km.
Overall then, speed and acceleration are more than adequate for a vehicle of its size and class, yet CO2 emissions are not quite so pleasing, with the 110kW diesel engine falling into band F with emissions of 197g/km.
In terms of handling, steering is precise and sensibly weighted, although it is sometimes difficult to gauge the movement of the front tyres, which also push a little bit on the tighter corners. Overall, the Renault Koleos provides a very smooth ride and is surprisingly soothing over long distances, although in 2WD (two-wheel drive) mode, there is a noticeable amount of body roll. It proves very agile on rough off-road surfaces.
With regard to suspension, earlier models made from 2008 to 2011 experience slight body wobble coupled with a slight ‘stuck-pig squeal’ on corners. Models made from 2011 onwards benefit from Renault’s revision of the old Macpherson independent suspension, which quiets proceedings noticeably.
Forward visibility is great, with the driver given a commanding position at the wheel despite the fact that the front seats sit naturally lower than some of its rivals. Rear visibility, however, leaves a little to be desired due to the oddly shaped rear end.
Standard kit is great across the entire Koleos range. The bottom-of-the-line two-wheel drive Expression model has satnav as standard, whereas the middle range is given 43cm alloy wheels and an alloy as spare, an all-leather interior, cruise control, trip computer, a Bose audio system, and a hill descent control which enhances the vehicle’s impressive off-road capabilities. Passengers in the second row are given window blinds, tray tables with cup holders, and the option of a panoramic glass roof.
The Renault Koleos also scores brilliantly in terms of practicality due to its large storage space, which may be enhanced by a user-friendly split tailgate and one-pull levers that drop rear seats easily.
The Renault Koleos faces stiff competition from the likes of the VW Tiguan 103TDi, which is more economical, using a litre per km less than the Koleos, yet the VW only has a leather interior as an option, though it’s a very expensive one.
The Toyota Rav4 Cruiser is also a popular in the compact 4x4 class, but with no diesel engine available, the RAV4 is less economical than the Renault Koleos, using a thirsty 9.1L/100km, even when not weighed down by a car full of passengers.
The Renault Koleos is a stylish, charming 4x4 that would be a good choice for a family looking for a vehicle with off-road capabilities.