Koleos on tech, comfort, size assault

Bigger, smarter, more upmarket – those are headline attributes Renault is associating with the now fully-unveiled next Koleos.


FRONT or four-wheel-drive, diesel or petrol, manual or constantly variable transmission … there’s so much more choice with the next generation of the sports utility that might be expected to drive Renault’s sale drive here.

Although images of the new model slipped out late last week - some leaked, one provided by the brand – Renault managed to keep a cap on the technical ingredients until an official unveiling at the Beijing motor show yesterday.

The presentation has confirmed conjecture that, now that Koleos has been elevated in status from a regional Asia-Pacific model to a full global offer, the drivetrain choice especially has enlarged.

Available engines are two petrol and two diesel engines, with power outputs ranging between 95kW and 129kW.

These will be available with either a six-speed manual or Renault-Nissan’s X-Tronic constantly variable transmission. It’s a safe bet to suggest only the CVT will come here, but perhaps both engines have a place – French product has natural association with diesel, but latterly there’s been a buyer trend toward petrol – and, let’s face it, the consumer interest in front-drive pure crossovers is also strong.

So what’s the possibility of a broadened range? Unfortunately, Renault NZ boss Tom Griffiths didn’t take up our invitation to provide comment.

The Koleos is built on the CMF C/D platform, which is shared with the similarly sized and priced Nissan X-Trail, as well as larger Renault-Nissan models.

That reflects in the dimension. This new model is significantly bigger than the current edition, not least in length. At 4670mm from nose to tail, it will be one of the longest offers in the medium category. In fact, given it’s also now on a 2710mm wheelbase and is 1840mm wide, could it now be considered an émigré into the next category, and so now a competitor for the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe?

Renault claims ‘record-breaking interior space’, as well as rear knee room of 289mm. Ultimately Koleos will come out in a seven seater format, with three rows of chairs, but initially it is expected to be sold here as a five-seater.

For those who see this as being more than just an urban adventure wagon, there’s the all-wheel-drive option. In this generation the All Mode 4x4i system is controlled by a switch on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel that lets you swap from front-wheel to all-wheel drive on the fly, with the system automatically splitting the torque between front and rear axles. For slow going on rough terrain, a third mode locks out the centre differential to split the torque 50:50 between the axles.

Renault claims a widespread use of premium and soft-touch materials in the cockpit and a greater emphasis on luxury and comfort is apparent. The front chairs have six-way power adjustment, heating for the squabs and backs and built-in ventilation.

The seats and armrests are trimmed in leather with contrasting top-stitching, set off by padded finishes on the dashboard and door panels with satin-chromed trim elements on the steering wheel, gear lever and air-vents. Personalisable interior mood lighting scattered around the interior is another chic touch. And of course, what French vehicle would be complete without a huge, opening glass panel in the roof?

The cargo bay has a flat floor level with the tailgate sill - but a removable floor increases it to 624 litres, and folding the 60:40 split rear seat-backs expands that to 1690 litres.

Renault’s R-Link 2 infotainment system now features and sounds smart. Driving functions are displayed on a seven inch colour screen behind the steering wheel, while the model, depending on spec, either adopts a seven-inch landscape or 8.7 inch portrait display. The latter recognises the same finger gestures (two-finger zoom, scrolling, drag and drop) as a tablet. Again, that’s a big step up.

The screens control the 12-speaker Bose sound system, 3D navigation display, rear-view camera and live streaming via Bluetooth, USB port, 3.5mm auxiliary jack. The top flight models have voice recognition and ability to read your e-mails aloud to you.

Driver aids include active emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition with over-the-limit speed warning, blind spot monitoring, safe distance warning, fatigue alert, automatic headlight dipping, front, rear and side parking sensors and parking assist.

The model will be built in the existing Koleos plant in Busan, South Korea, for all markets except China. Chinese-market Koleos models will be built in Renault’s Wuhan plant in China.

The Koleos will be sold in 80 markets around the world.