First Drive: Renault Koleos

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Renault has introduced its updated Koleos SUV - can it cut it in the premium SUV market? AOL Cars went to Helsinki to find out.

What is it?


This is the Koleos SUV, and it represents a venture into new territory for Renault. This second-generation model moves the nameplate into the D-segment, whereas its predecessor was a smaller compact SUV.

It was unveiled last year at the Beijing Motor Show and shares a platform with the Nissan X-Trail, though unlike its sibling it strictly comes with five seats, with the Nissan having a seven-seat option.

What's under the bonnet?

The Renault Koleos is being offered with the same choice of diesel engines as the Nissan X-Trail – its sister car. These come in the form of a 1.6-litre, 128bhp unit and a larger 2.0-litre power plant that develops 175bhp. The smaller engine is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox and two-wheel drive, while the 2.0-litre Koleos has four-wheel drive and a choice of either the manual gearbox or a CVT.

The 1.6-litre engine is the most efficient of the two, with a claimed economy figure of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 128g/km. With the manual transmission, the 2.0-litre unit claims 50.4mpg and 148g/km, while the CVT manages 47.9mpg and 156g/km.

What's the spec like?

Prices start at £27,500 in the UK, which makes it quite pricey compared with rivals that offer more practicality and more seats.

Prices can easily tip over £35,000 if you tick a few option boxes on a top-spec model, but at least it comes with a generous specification. Entry-level Dynamique S Nav models get 18-inch alloy wheels, cup holders that can heat and cool drinks and a panoramic glass sunroof. There's also Renault's seven-inch R-Link2 infotainment system, which has satellite navigation, DAB Radio and smartphone connectivity included.

First Drive: Renault Koleos

First Drive: Renault Koleos

Any rivals?

The SUV segment is swelling so considerably that even its sub segments are becoming crowded. At the premium end of the market, the Land Rover Discovery Sport has the look and feel of an upmarket SUV with plenty of badge appeal.

The Skoda Kodiaq is a new entry from the Czech manufacturer and has been winning plaudits for offering excellent value for money. Meanwhile, the forthcoming Peugeot 5008 is also likely to prove a noble rival as the French manufacturer is on a run of good form at the moment.

What's it like to drive?

Compared with the Nissan X-Trail, with which the Koleos shares a platform, the Renault is a little disappointing. Not only is the steering less direct but it also offers less feedback through the wheel. It's slightly less composed over bumpy roads, thanks in part to the large 19-inch alloy wheels.

However, the comfortable and spacious cabin goes some way to making up for these disappointments, while opting for the smaller 18-inch alloy wheels will improve the ride and reduce road noise.

AOL Cars Verdict

The Renault Koleos is a car that has a lot going for it. It's attractive, drives well enough and comes with a generously-equipped interior. However, that asking price is a little too steep for our liking, especially considering the fact that other rivals are cheaper, offer more practicality and are just as capable – if not more capable – out on the road.

THE KNOWLEDGE
Model: Renault Koleos Signature dCi 130
Base price: £31,900
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel
Power: 128bhp
Torque: 320Nm
Max speed: 115mph
0-60mph: 11.2 seconds
MPG: 57.6
Emissions: 128g/km