If you’re wanting an SUV packed with features and style, the Renault Koleos Intens could be what you’re looking for.
In a hotly contested medium-sized SUV segment, not only can it get a little crowded as there is so much choice, but it’s hard to stand out if you’re not one who likes to blend in.
One SUV that doesn’t like to mingle with the crowd is the 2019 Renault Koleos Intens 4WD petrol. It is one hell of a handsome car with its distinctive styling, and it has a certain presence on the road. Some will find the ‘running mascara’ daytime-running lights polarising, and the chrome strip running from the headlights to the fake side air vents a bit misplaced, but we are talking French styling here.
Pricing starts from $45,990 before on-road costs for the top-of-the-petrol-range Intens all-wheel-drive variant on test here. If you prefer oilers, there's a diesel Intens for $2000 more. Features packed into the Koleos include blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, park assist, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, automatic high beam, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range. Powering the Koleos is a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine paired to a CVT transmission.
The main feature of the interior is the 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, which, again, may polarise some. It is prone to fingerprint marks, and most of the climate controls are operated through the R-LINK 2 infotainment, which on the move can be frustrating. Satellite navigation is easy and clear to use, and go digging in the settings, you’ll find a choice of 17 different cars as the arrowhead, including the classic A110. Neat.
The only downside to the portrait layout of the tablet is Apple CarPlay is viewed in landscape, which doesn't display all that well, but voice command and controls work fine. Bluetooth audio sounded clear through the 12-speaker Bose stereo system, but the receiver commented the caller sounded echoey. You can also change the ambient lighting through the infotainment system (there are five colours to choose from), which also changes the colour of the instrument cluster.
Placement of some buttons around the cabin is a little questionable. The door unlock button is small and hard to find amongst the buttons beneath the touchscreen, and the speed limiter and cruise controls are located near the gearstick, which has always had us scratching our heads. But then again, once you familiarise yourself with the car, these will become second nature over time.
Cabin practicality is great, with a deep centre console that sits at the perfect height for your elbows, and hides two USB points and an AUX plug, but they are hard to reach. The two different-sized cupholders are cooled, which is a really nifty feature, and if you use them to store change or other items, you are able to pull a cover over them. A very grippy removable piece of rubber near the gearstick is large enough for a few phones; however, it lacks a USB, with just a 12V socket present.
One item I find under-appreciated is sun visor flaps. Some can be useless, but the ones in the Koleos are that big you’ll block the sun no matter how low it is on the horizon.
The leather seats are heated and cooled, and in the thick of Melbourne’s winter, they warmed up in about one minute. I didn’t find the seats to be super supportive, though, when negotiating a sweeping bend, for example, as my back slid around. Could be more suited to a larger person, perhaps. It’s quite spacious in the front, but head room is compromised by 6.2cm with the standard panoramic sunroof.
Over in the rear, there’s loads of leg room, but once again the sunroof hinders head room. Vision is fantastic, especially for kids, with large side windows that are placed low. There are a few places to hide things as well, with two very wide netted map pockets, large door bin storage and a fold-down armrest with two cupholders. The LED reading lights are as bright as an airplane reading light, and there are two USBs, one AUX and 12V, complemented with air vents. Plenty to keep rear-seat passengers comfortable.
After opening the hands-free powered tailgate, you’re able to fit 458L of things in the boot, and once the 60:40 rear seats are folded via levers in the boot or the seats, it can be expanded to 1690L. It has a low loading height, with four tie-down latches, a 12-volt socket, two deep side storage compartments, and a cargo cover. The spare wheel is 17 inches in size; one inch smaller than the full-size wheels fitted to this vehicle.
The Koleos shares its drivetrain with the Nissan X-Trail, so you would assume reliability wouldn't be an issue. The 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine rattles into life when started, and produces 126kW of power and 226Nm of torque. It takes 9.8 seconds to reach 100km/h on its way to a top speed of 199km/h.
It can feel a bit lethargic getting up to speed on the freeway, but the majority of its driving would most likely be around town, where performance isn’t as critical. If tight streets are where you spend most of your time, the Koleos's 11.4m turning circle is quite good, around 1.3m tighter than the Holden Equinox.
A fair amount of freeway driving was done over our week we had the Koleos, and the final fuel reading was down to 6.2L/100km – way under the claimed combined figure of 8.3L/100km. The driver information screen displays a white leaf that gradually fills up when you’re driving frugally, and then gives you a global score via the infotainment screen. I achieved 62/100 over 36km, with a distance of 7km travelled without fuel consumption. It’s an interesting thing to keep an eye on.
Over 80km/h, the giant side mirrors generate a fair amount of wind noise, though there is marginal road noise coming from the 18-inch wheels. Worth noting is our test car had 18-inch wheels fitted so that it was available for our SUV comparison, even though the Intens now comes with 19-inch wheels standard. So, unfortunately, we can’t comment on how the standard wheels ride, but on the 18s you can feel the smaller bumps and can feel slightly unsettled at times, though overall the ride quality is fine.
The X-tronic CVT keeps the revs low – even at around 40km/h, it will happily sit around 1000rpm. On the very rare occasion, stuck in stop/start peak-hour traffic, it felt a bit jerky; however, it does its job well at keeping fuel usage low.
The Koleos has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with four years of roadside assist. It was last tested in 2017 and received a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Service intervals are lengthy at every 30,000km or 12 months at a capped price of $349 for the first three visits. A bit strange considering its Nissan X-Trail cousin has intervals at every 10,000km and has the same drivetrain.
Every 24 months or 30,000km the air and pollen filters need to be replaced, meaning every two services you'll be shelling out an extra $52 and $46 respectively. That means for the first 36 months or 90,000km, you'll pay a minimum of $1145 in scheduled maintenance – not too bad.
The Koleos isn’t the most thrilling SUV on offer, but it gets the job done without too much fuss thanks to its spacious interior, great fuel economy, and unique styling, which overlooks its rattly engine and long service intervals. If you’re after a European SUV with Japanese reliability, it won’t hurt to take a look at the Koleos.
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