The new generation of the Koleos is significantly changed – built on a larger platform it now targets the D-SUV buyer with its mix of roomy cabin, stylish interiors and tried and tested powertrain from its Nissan siblings

The new Renault Koleos can be seen as the new genetically modified child of the broader Nissan Renault alliance. It isn’t quite a Renault as we know it, but then the current Megane is very much a similar creature. If you really want to split hairs, the old Koleos was of Korean origin although it eventually became very identified with the European manufacturer. It did a lot more for the brand’s positioning than the Duster, which is a Dacia by birth. The Duster has had a fantastic run in terms of volumes, considering its appeal as an entry-level SUV.

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”2″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”240″ thumbnail_height=”160″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”1″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show slideshow]” template=”/home/alroyaom/carguide.me/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/ngglegacy/view/gallery-caption.php” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]But back to the Koleos. This time around the gameplan has been to upgrade the ownership of this key model. The platform selected is of Nissan origin, expropriating the X-Trail mechanicals and structure and cladding it with a very unique skin. The car looks completely different of course and it begins with features like the clamshell hood design, the new headlight treatment with LED piped lighting serving to emphasise the width of the fascia and the nicely offset grille with its chrome on black effect. This varies depending on the trim you buy but it is effective.

The profile of the car is just as interesting. Here you can see the connection to the X-Trail a lot clearer than either the front or rear panels. The proportions are spot on, with the reasonably long wheelbase serving to accentuate the longish hood treatment. We also liked the way in which the C-D pillar arrangement allows for a generous half pane as well as brings to notice the wraparound rear windshield layout.

The rear section feels almost Porsche-like in its use of the wide windshield, lights that run practically the whole width of the car and the high tailgate. The upper variants offer a power tailgate feature which is very handy when you consider that the lifted gate goes quite high for a rather compact SUV. As a bonus you can activate the gate by swinging your foot under the rear bumper. It does seem like there is a lot of shopping being done nowadays! The cabin’s interiors have cleaned up nicely too. Even in the base version (without the tab-like centre console) you can see how the instrumentation has been improved. Of course, when you compare the features, the Koleos does tend to sell its higher feature pack to you. It’s not just the tab-like touch screen; the cabin also gets a rather liberal selection of ambient lighting options, Bose speakers and even a heads-up display at the very top end of the variants. Oh yes, there’s a panoramic sunroof as well! In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a better appointed cabin in most of the competition’s vehicles. Renault says this is because the new Talisman and the Koleos were co-developed, so the treatment has been very similar.

At the launch of the car in Dubai, the brand’s managing director in the region, Marwan Haidamous declared: “New Renault Koleos is the perfect flagship of our new brand identity. Built from the ground-up, it features a new design, a new platform, new dimensions, new positioning in the range and new technologies.” He concluded: “The car combines the refinement of a large saloon car with the robust styling of an SUV.”

That does come across! Even to the point where the second row of seats get a degree of movement and adjustment that you won’t find in regular SUVs.

Driving impressions

The Koleos is a smooth, capable drive. It is saddled with a very good engine mated to a rather humdrum CVT transmission and tries to make the best out of the combination. You can lock the transmission into 4WD mode but don’t expect the CVT to allow you too much latitude for errors off-road. The engine is both fuel efficent and rather quiet – you wouldn’t think that it can spool out 233Nm of torque. That goes with the 170hp of peak power it has on offer and is actually more than enough for any city drive situations the vehicle will endure every day.

The vehicle’s 210mm of ground clearance isn’t very apparent on the 2,705mm wheelbase, but it still gives a decent approach and departure angle to the car. However, we would advise you to stay out of the sand unless you really know what you are doing despite the much-touted 4x4i arrangement available.

On the other hand, you can really understand why so many car drivers would like to upgrade to the Koleos (or vehicles of the type). You get a very good road presence, sit higher off the ground and have features like blind spot warning and Renault’s new generation of R-link on-board (which allows you to connect your phone and integrate it with the car’s infotainment).

Ride quality has also been worked on. It does tend to buck a little at speed breakers and bumps, but the steering has been isolated to a certain extent and the body is stiff enough to remain responsive.
You also get larger wheels with the available 18-inch alloys filling up the wheel wells quite nicely, although we would rate these as strictly on-road options.

Verdict

The new Renault Koleos has a lot going for it. It helps that the vehicle is now bigger and offers a much better second row experience. It also helps that the styling has been improved so drastically over the outgoing car. In some ways, the model has been made to look a lot more butch, so you will see a larger number of male buyers for the badge.

The model upgrade couldn’t have come at a better time for the brand. While it has been selling decent numbers due to the popularity of the Duster, it really needs to address the C and D-segment SUV buyer for profitability in the region. The Koleos is now ready to get the latter buyer. But what about the C-segment that it has left wide open? We were told that the brand has no plan to being the European Renault Kadjar in to mark out that territory and that in our opinion is a mistake. Renault pegs the Koleos against the Santa Fe. It really needs to match the Tucson too.

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Raj Warrior is the managing editor of Carguide.me and has been a part of the Middle East’s automotive landscape from the past 16 years. He has run top rung car magazines in India and Oman and is often referred to as the Automan of Oman, due to his long association with the magazine. A love of mechanisms and technology adds to his forte and contributes a mix of technical and lifestyle based assessment to his writing. An avid photographer, as comfortable on a motorcycle as he is in cars, Raj is driven by his love affair with all things on wheels and brings his passion to all his automotive ventures. Raj has chosen Oman as his home base because he loves the country, its friendly people and its great driving and riding roads.

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