Renault has had much success selling smaller crossovers and SUVs in South Africa, but it has historically struggled to compete in the mid-size SUV segment.
The previous Koleos didn’t exactly light the sales chart on fire, nor did the Kadjar that followed it.
It seems Renault has not given up on this segment yet, because it’s now offering the brand-new Koleos in South Africa. The Koleos is built on the same platform as the Kadjar and Nissan X-Trail, but Renault says it’s meant to be more upmarket than both. According to Renault, the all-new Koleos offers the rugged capability of an SUV with the elegant refinement of a large executive saloon.
To our ears that sounds like it should be quite pricey, so it was a relief to see a starting price of just under R400k on the screen during the product presentation. It seems Renault is following the same strategy as with the Duster – give the people what they want, but at a reasonable price.
Styling wise we think it looks really good. The Kadjar was slightly underwhelming, mostly due to the fact that it never featured any of the strong design cues Renaults are known for. The Koleos, however, is unmistakably a Renault. There’s a strong family resemblance between it and the Mégane. To some it might be too aggressive, but we like the strong, aggressive stance.
The Koleos is offered in two specification levels in South Africa – Expression and Dynamique. Expression specification offers all the basics, as well as a few nice-to-haves, while Dynamique takes it up a few notches. The list is too long to print here, but highlights include electronically adjustable leather seats, handsfree card key, a high-end infotainment system with navigation and surround sound, blind spot detectors and parking sensors all round.
The most noticeable element is the space. Renault says it’s class leading and it’s hard not to believe the marketing material. Getting comfortable is easy enough in the front and the rear bench the kind of legroom you’d expect to find in an SUV a segment above.
All models are equipped with the same 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, mated to a CVT gearbox. At this point you might be wondering whether you should be shopping around for something else, because, as we all know, CVTs don’t have a great reputation…
To be honest, we never really noticed the gearbox on our short drive, which is already a feather in the Koleos’ cap. It goes about its business in a relatively effortless way, which is exactly what you want in this kind of car. At the end of our jaunt the trip computer revealed a consumption figure of 8.5 litres/100km. Not bad for a naturally-aspirated petrol with all-wheel drive.
The condition were perfect to test said all-wheel drive system as well. After two days of pouring rain, the gravel roads on Renault’s planned route were muddy and slippery. In other words, perfect conditions in which to torture an all-wheel drive car.
The Koleos has three driving modes – 2WD, 4WD Lock and 4WD Auto. We know from experience that this system is at its best when you simply leave it in auto and let it sort itself out and the same is true here. Even in the muddiest, slipperiest conditions you can imagine, the Renault tracked straight and true. In normal conditions and under normal use, the Koleos’ abilities should be more than enough for the average mid-size SUV buyer.
It had no problems getting to the national limit on the highway and it’s pretty good at going around corners at speed as well.
All round it’s a good car at a good price. A quick glance at our Buyer’s Guide suggests that the Koleos Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×2 offers seriously good value at a price of R440 000. That’s a fully-kitted mid-size SUV for roughly the same amount most manufacturers charge for entry-level models.
As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the New Renault Koleos comes standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty; plus a 5-year/ 90 000km service plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty, with service intervals at 15 000km.
RANGE & PRICING:
The Renault Koleos Range offers 3 derivatives –
Koleos Expression 2.5 CVT 4×2 R 399 900
Koleos Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×2 R 439 900
Koleos Dynamique 2.5 CVT 4×4 R 479 900
Metallic Paint R 2 522
Electric Adjustable Leather Seats (Expression Model) R 12 000