When you think 'medium SUV', you tend to think of those big sellers: RAV4, Tucson, CX-5, even Escape and Tiguan. But then you’ve got one that’s a little different – enter the Renault Koleos Zen 4x2. A whole size bigger than its predecessor, and almost as big as a Hyundai SantaFe, though only with five seats – big, comfy seats at that.
With one of the largest grilles on a Renault, that fancy diamond badge front and centre, it’s hard to mistake it for another brand of vehicle. The DRLs look like something from Tron Legacy (that sci-fi film based on a video game), and the LED tail-lights have that signature Renault look about them.
I chose the black-on-black look for my mid-spec Zen 4x2 model. Featuring lashes of chrome exterior trim and rear privacy glass covering all windows from the B-pillar back, this could be mistaken for something a little more upmarket. The standard 18-inch wheels give the Koleos a solid stance and provide a smooth drive on all types of roads. There’s also a 17-inch spare wheel under the boot floor! No goo kit here!
The rear end does miss out on the convenient split tailgate from the previous-gen model, offering a standard lift tailgate seen on most SUVs.
Under the bonnet we have the 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit from the Renault-Nissan alliance shared with its Nissan X-Trail cousin. There’s enough oomph to get you from standstill to cruising speed without too much effort, though the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel can be had for another $10K, but you’ll need to upgrade to the Intens spec to get the oil-burner. That said, with a 9.5L/100km ADR, I do manage 9.3L/100km on a good mix of highway and suburban driving, and that is based on the standard 91RON fuel.
Service intervals are great too, only needed every 30,000km or once every 12 months. It makes you wonder why Nissan asks for 15,000km or every 12 months on its X-Trail, which has effectively the same driveline and engine?!
On the inside, big, soft, leather covered and heated seats make for comfortable driving. There are more lashings of chrome trim and the touch-sensitive controls are intuitive and easy to use.
Sitting atop the centre dash is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Renault’s signature R-Link multimedia system, with handy Apple CarPlay and standard sat-nav built in. I find the system easy to use and responsive, on most occasions. However, there are too many submenus to be using on the go, so it's best to make adjustments when you’re at a standstill.
Standard niceties like an auto electric park brake, easy-use steering wheel controls, and the digital dash make for ease of use. The digital TFT instruments in lieu of an analogue display are funky and easy to read. There are several options to personalise your dash to your liking, like five colours and five designs for your speedo and tacho.
The leather-clad steering wheel does have a flat-bottomed sporty look, and is comfy and great to hold in hand, although it could use more height and reach adjustment. I’m not even 6ft tall and the steering wheel is set to the highest setting and is only about one inch above my legs. I do, however, have the driver's seat at the highest setting to see over the dash to the front of the vehicle. That said, you wouldn’t want to be any taller than 6ft to find that comfortable driving position.
Overall, my Koleos has been a great choice for me and my lifestyle. It suits my bachelor lifestyle, weekends away with my mates, or even moving that odd piece of furniture from here to there. There’s plenty of space for families too, easily accommodating five adults or even mum and dad with young ones in tow.
There are always those little things that we pick at with any car we buy – fuel consumption, lacking features or the sound system – but overall I’m more than happy with my purchase.
For someone who has owned 10 cars in 10 years, this has to be one of the best I’ve owned, and I would recommend anyone I know to drive and consider a Koleos for their next car.