With Paris city council still mumbling about a ban on all 4WD and SUVs from the inner-city, French car companies have never really taken off-roaders seriously, until now. 28 months of development between Renault and Nissan has given life to Renault's brand new and first ever Crossover, the Koleos.
Of course the Koleos isn't all French made, infact you can say its styled by the French, developed by the Japanese (Nissan) and manufactured in Korea at the Renault Samsung Motors' Busan plant.
It's 4.52m long, 1.85m wide and comes with a huge range of standard features such as hands-free card and keyless starting functions, automatic headlamp and wiper activation, a tyre pressure monitoring ystem and cruise control/speed limiter.
The Koleos utilises MacPherson-type suspension for the front and borrows the new Nissan X-trail's fully-independent multilink suspension system for the rear. Ground clearance comes in at 206mm for the petrol and 188mm for the diesel (approach and departure angles 27 and 31 degrees respectively).
For every-day driving power is sent to the front-wheels only, but up to 50 per cent can be sent to the rear when needed. The All mode 4x4-I' system which controls the front-rear power and torque split is borrowed from the new X-trail.
The 4x4 range comes with hill start assist, hill descent control and ESP as standard. But if you don't care about off-road ability, Renault is also offering the Koleos in front-wheel drive flavour.
Renault will supply the diesel engines while Nissan will supply the petrol ones. The Koleos will receive the 2.0-litre dCi Euro 4 diesel engine (M9R) in two power outputs, namely 110kW and 320Nm or 127kW and 360Nm.
The lower spec engine is available with both the front-wheel and all-wheel drive variants with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, but the high output diesel only comes with the 4x4 version and in manual only.
The petrol engine is the Nissan made 2.5-litre Euro 4 powerplant (Nissan TR25) which delivers 126kW and 226Nm of torque. It will be available with a manual six-speed gearbox and/or continuously variable transmission (CVT) depending on the market.
Will it come to Australia? We have put the question to Renault Australia and will update once we here back.
The Renault Koleos will be on show at the Geneva Motor Show from March 4, 2008 (and we will be there).