RENAULT probably hopes you can’t remember the original Koleos. Designed in France and engineered in Japan, the first generation Koleos lasted for less than three years on the UK market before it was axed having sold just 2,600 units. It takes some doing to create an SUV nobody wants but, somehow, Renault managed.

Now the Koleos is back. It’s still styled by the French and based on the current Nissan X-Trail but Renault has enjoyed tremendous success with its recent SUV efforts so there’s good reason to think this Koleos can succeed where its predecessor failed.

Mindful of its previous mis-step, Renault has priced the new Koleos very aggressively. The range-topping 4WD Signature Nav’s £34,700 compares favourably with the X-Trail Tekna Xtronic’s £37,410, although the Nissan does have two pop-up seats in the boot. It’s also considerably cheaper than the equivalent Hyundai Santa Fe or the Kia Sorento. Whether you prefer to buy or rent that translates into lower monthly repayments.

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The Koleos completes Renault’s crossover line-up which began with the Kadjar and continued with the Captur, and means the company now has an offer in all the major SUV market segments from small to large.

And speaking of large, although you can have the Koleos with a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s the larger 2.0-litre powerplant that makes more sense. Available with a six-speed manual or electronically-controlled CVT transmission, the extra horsepower comes in handy whether you’re climbing hills or just cruising the motorway. And the generous torque figure means there’s no hesitation when you put your foot down - it’s very flexible.

The Koleos is a very comfortable long distance car, too. At speed the growly engine quietens down and the chunky body isn’t affected by strong winds or buffeting from passing HGVs when it's on the motorway.

Large SUVs can suffer from poor body control which gives a bouncy ride and creates a peculiar floating sensation at high speeds which induces car sickness. However, the Koleos resists body lean very well and nervous passengers had no complaints.

The selectable AWD system gives added reassurance in bad weather. You can select all-wheel drive on the move but most of the time you’ll be in 2WD because that’s the most economical mode. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine returned 38 mpg in a week and 700 miles of mainly motorway and fast A-road running. In town, the fuel computer reported nearer to 30 mpg. The official combined figure is 47.9 mpg.

Step up into the cabin and the Koleos is nothing like its Nissan sibling from behind the wheel. Drivers familiar with the new Megane’s interior will feel right at home, though. The main instruments are dominated by the large speedo, which is clear and easy to read at a glance, while most of the minor controls have been remove off to the large portrait-style touchscreen.

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A panoramic sunroof gives the interior a light and airy feel. As befits a range-topping vehicle, cow hide is used on the seats and the door armrests. The fascia uses cushion-backed materials for a premium feel.

Naturally, the driving position gives you a commanding view of the road ahead. The Koleos is a smidge taller than the majority of crossovers on the market, so you'll find yourself looking over the top of Qashqais and Jukes.

I like Renault’s design decision to add a physical switch to engage the cruise control (which then hands off control to buttons on the steering) rather than grouping everything around the wheel. There’s less chance of switching it on or off by mistake.

One odd thing: the switches for the heated/ventilated front seats are in different places depending on whether you are sat in the driver’s or front passenger's seat. For the driver the heated button is closest, but if a passenger presses the same button on their side the ventilation function is activated.

Renault’s Sync software interfaces with Apple and Android handsets but the Koleos quickly fell out of love with my iPhone. Initially CarPlay worked fine - plug into the USB port, select CarPlay on the screen and away you go - but a couple of days later CarPlay disappeared from the ‘sources’ menu. The Koleos also refused to talk to my phone via Bluetooth reliably. Reboots and different cables made no difference and on the last day of the test the infotainment screen stubbornly refused to come on at all. No doubt your mileage will differ.

The Koleos is unusually well specified. The standard kit list includes a DAB radio with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system which incorporates Bluetooth handsfree connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, TomTom live update sat-nav with western European mapping, four USB and two aux-in ports, a hands-free keycard, automatic lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, part leather upholstery, front seat heating and cooling cupholders, heated and folding door mirrors,18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, roof bars, an opening panoramic sunroof, and extra-tinted rear windows.

Top-of-the-range Signature Nav models throw in an even bigger 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, heated, full leather upholstery, full LED headlamps, 19-inch alloys, and a power-operated tailgate.

Curiously, Renault doesn’t offer a seven-seat version of the Koleos in a class where three rows of seats are a popular choice. It’s all the more odd when you consider that the X-Trail is available as a seven-seater.

However, if your needs are met by a five seater you’ll be very happy in the Koleos. The lack of a third row means everyone gets a comfortable fully padded pew and there’s loads of knee and leg room in the second row.

And Renault will happily point you in the direction of a Grand Scenic if you need the full seven seats.

Rear knee room is amongst the best in its class at 289mm with rear passengers also benefiting from dual air vents, dual USBs (with two more in the front), a central armrest

with cupholders and extra tinted rear windows.

The spacious interior has not been detrimental to boot space – 458-litres with all seats in place and 1,690-litres with rear seats down.

Unsurprisingly, the Koleos shares lots of common sense features with the X-Trail, such as the way the door skins fully conceal the sills so your trousers don’t get dirty when you hop out and the electric tailgate that can be opened by a quick wave of your foot under the bumper.


If you want seven seats the Koleos is not for you. If you want a capable, roomy five-seat SUV with the added reassurance of selectable four-wheel-drive then the Koleos deserves a place on your shortlist. In a short space of time Renault has assembled a very capable crossover line-up.


RENAULT KOLEOS Signature Nav 175dCi 175 Auto X-Tronic

Price: £34,700

Engine: 2.0-litre/four-cyl turbodiesel

Power: 175 bhp

Torque: 380 Nm

Top speed: 125 mph

0-62mph: 9.5 secs

Fuel cons:47.9 mpg (Official combined)