Do you remember the Renault Koleos from the mid-2000s? Nope? Hardly surprising. While it might have been designed to take on the Nissan X-Trail and Honda CR-V it never captured the public imagination the way its Japanese rivals did.
It was removed from sale in the UK after just three years and fewer than 3,000 sales but now that everyone and their dog are building SUVs Renault have resurrected it. More correctly, they’ve resurrected the name – today’s model bears no resemblance to the weirdly styled outsider of the Noughties.
Renault Koleos Signature NAV 4×4 X-Tronic
Price: £34,200 (£36,210 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: CVT with manual mode
Top speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
CO2 emissions: 156g/km
The Koleos is the daddy of Renualt’s current SUV/crossover crop, sitting above the Kadjar and Captur and squaring up to the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq, VW Tiguan, Peugeot 5008 plus the X-Trail and CR-V names that outlived its predecessor.
It’s a tough segment, no doubt, but Renault have high hopes for the Koleos after positive public reception of its smaller models.
From the outside it’s clearly related to those smaller cars but a bold front end gives it a more serious, grown-up look. The further back you go the less distinctive it gets, however, and from some angles you’d struggle to tell it from an X-Trail. Still, it’s miles better than its predecessor.
The interior, too, is a mixed bag. Nice design touches and luxury features clash with bizarre layout choices and a sub-par media system. Our model came with a heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. Big brownie points for both, but minus just as many for putting the steering wheel button in line with the driver’s knee and forcing you to fold down the centre armrest to access the rear seat controls.
If you can get over those “quirks” (and Renault’s insistence on putting the stereo controls on a separate stalk rather than the steering wheel) there’s a lot to like about the interior. For a start, it must be one of the most spacious in the class. Even with the panoramic roof there’s loads of headroom, and leg, shoulder and hip room in the back seats are better than its rivals. In the front even the tallest driver will have no problems getting comfortable thanks to all that space plus supremely comfortable seats and a good driving position.
The cabin looks and feels good too, the leather surfaces matched to high-gloss plastics and metallic inserts to create a classy look.
The ride and handling also reflect the Koleos’ focus on comfort. It’s a softly sprung big thing, good at absorbing bumps in the road but at the expense of body control. Compared with the Skoda Kodiaq or Peugeot 5008 there’s a lot more lean to contend with and there’s not much in the way of steering feel.
Pulling our test car along was a 175bhp 2.0-litre diesel shifting through a CVT auto box. The Nissan X-Trail, which shares a platform with the Koloes offers a similar setup but the Koleos is far quieter and smoother in operation and is on a par with the 2.0-litre diesel Kodiaq. Renault claim it will return 47.9mpg but on a week of mixed driving we were stuck in the mid-30s.
At £34,200 before options the Koleos sits in the same bracket as higher-spec Kodiaqs, 5008s and X-Trails. The test car’s Signature trim offers the sort of equipment you’d expect at the higher end of the range. An 8.7-inch touchscreen with navigation is standard, as are the usual DAB, Bluetooth, voice control and USB inputs. Our car also had the £600 Bose stereo which adds more speakers and a dedicated subwoofer.
Keyless entry and start, an opening panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control are also standard fit along with cruise control, lane departure warning, emergency braking assist, blind spot warning and a reversing camera to supplement the front and rear parking sensors.
There’s a lot to like about the Koloes. It’s spacious, comfortable, classy, well equipped and shines at soaking up long journeys with ease. It’s let down, however, by body control that lags behind rivals, some lunatic bits of layout, poor economy and the lack of a seven-seat option, which could cost it dearly in the face of tough competition.