The mid-life upgrade for the Renault Koleos gives the Korean-built compact SUV a fresh face, a range of new standard features and builds on the old model’s attractive value equation.
Renault Australia says it has added between $1490 and $3150 in extra value across the range, despite prices remaining unchanged or increasing by no more than $1000. Starting at $28,490 and topping out at $44,490, the Renault Koleos goes head-to-head with the Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 in terms of pricing and packaging.
The same six models have been carried over: the entry-level Expression front-wheel drive petrol is available with a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT), the mid-spec Dynamique comes in 4x2 and 4x4 petrol CVT forms as well as 4x4 diesel (six-speed automatic), and the range-topping Privilege continues as a petrol 4x4 CVT.
The power outputs of both engines are unchanged, although the diesel is now more efficient. The 110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel’s fuel consumption is officially rated at 7.6 litres/100km (down from 8.3 litres/100km), which is about average for a diesel in this class. The 126kW/226Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine’s fuel consumption ranges from 9.3-9.6 litres/100km depending on the transmission and drive mode.
The diesel’s real-world efficiency is impressive. We achieved 8.4 litres/100km on mostly urban roads and 8.9 litres/100km on an off-road run. We averaged 8.8 litres/100km in the petrol 4x2 CVT, although this was predominantly on the highway.
The Koleos borrows its ‘All Mode 4x4’ system from Renault-Nissan Alliance sibling – the Nissan X-Trail – and has far more potential than our relatively tame circuit of dirt roads, small hills and a shallow water crossing allowed it to exhibit. The system allows the driver to lock into 2WD or 4WD modes or stick with the default Auto setting to let the car do the thinking. The Koleos is not a hard-core off-roader by any means, but its good ground clearance (204mm petrol, 186mm diesel) and generous approach and departure angles (27 and 31 degrees, respectively) mean you can take it off the beaten track without worrying about scuffing the lower panels.
The $40,990 Dynamique diesel is the best all-round powertrain option. The six-speed auto is smooth and sophisticated and more satisfying than the CVT, which emits the usual drone during acceleration. The 2.0 dCi isn’t the most refined diesel engine in its class, and is louder and more clattery than the petrol at idle and under acceleration. The petrol reacts sharply to your calls for power but delivers it in a progressive nature that makes it feel capable rather than quick. The diesel tends to lag but punches harder than the petrol thanks to an extra 94Nm of torque kicking in 2400rpm earlier in the rev range (2000rpm). Importantly, both powertrains feel effortless at highway speeds and are equally up to the day-to-day duties of suburbia.
The steering has an extremely light feel and offers little feedback. It’s easy to manoeuvre in the city and great for parking, but lacks that solid, confident feel on the highway and through corners. You feel the larger bumps and irregularities on rough surfaces, but the suspension generally does a good job of smoothing out the ride. The large side mirrors tend to create wind noise at highway speeds, but the cabin is otherwise well insulated from external sounds.
The high seating position, good front and rear visibility and the spacious cabin give you a commanding feel behind the wheel. The cabin layout is uncluttered and elegant and incorporates plenty of soft-touch plastics and attractive trim inserts. There are a couple of ergonomic disappointments, including the seat base, which is quite short, the remote audio buttons, which are positioned awkwardly behind the steering wheel, and the satin chrome satellite navigation surround, which annoyingly reflects onto the windscreen.
Fortunately, the TomTom sat-nav system is standard across the range (a first for the compact-SUV class). It’s simple to use and is better than many manufacturer-fitted units offered by Renault’s competitors, which are often optional and expensive. The audio system has a nice clear sound and integrates Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming for greater practicality and safety.
The rear seat is spacious enough to keep most passengers happy. The Dynamique and Privilege models are especially child-friendly, incorporating adjustable rear air vents, reclining seatbacks, foldout picnic tables and sunblinds for the windows. The ‘Easy Estate’ flat-folding rear seat system is versatile and very easy to use. Two simple levers in the boot expand its capacity from 450 litres to 1380 litres.
New to the Expression is the sat-nav system (with remote control), dual-zone climate control, new black/aluminium interior surfaces and charcoal upholstery, and body-coloured exterior mirrors, bumpers and side mouldings. These features add to those already standard from the old model: cruise control with speed limiter, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and a full size alloy spare.
The volume-selling Dynamique scores black leather upholstery with white stitching, electric driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, carbon fibre/aluminium-look cabin highlights, a vehicle alarm, and redesigned 17-inch alloys. These features come on top of the already standard auto headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, joystick-operated sat-nav, electric park brake and aluminium roof rails.
The Privilege now comes with bi-xenon headlights; graphite, brushed chrome and piano black surfaces; new 18-inch alloys; and a beige leather interior (no cost option); adding to the old model’s keyless entry and push-button start, front parking sensors, seven-speaker Bose sound system and a panoramic sunroof.
All models score the maximum five-star safety rating and come with six airbags, electronic stability control and a number of other active and passive safety features. Also attractive is the industry-leading five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with five years free roadside assistance.
The upgraded Renault Koleos isn’t the sharpest compact SUV in terms of performance or driving dynamics, and there are a few ergonomic failings for the driver. But it makes a strong case in other areas. It’s got a spacious and versatile interior, a proven 4x4 system, and a comprehensive standard features list that makes the Koleos one of the best equipped SUVs for the price.
Renault Koleos manufacturer’s list prices (excluding government and dealer costs):
- Expression petrol 4x2 six-speed manual – $28,490 ($29,990 driveaway, unchanged)
- Expression petrol 4x2 CVT – $30,490 (unchanged)
- Dynamique petrol 4x2 CVT – $34,490 (+$1000)
- Dynamique petrol 4x4 CVT – $37,990 (+$1000)
- Dynamique diesel 4x4 six-speed automatic – $40,990 (+$1000)
- Privilege petrol 4x4 CVT – $44,490 (+$500)
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