Buyers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the medium sized SUV market, so much so that it’s one of the most cluttered segments around, which means manufacturers really have to make an effort to get the public’s attention.
Look on the internet and you’ll see the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX5 and Nissan X-Trail to name a few and in this case the Renault Koleos. Looking at the more recognised competition, the Koleos has a tough battle on its hands and unlike the Renault Duster it’s not a name that jumps to mind when you hit the search button.
It was updated earlier in the year to give a more distinctive look, something I immediately noticed when I saw it for the first time.
The more pronounced grille with its chrome insets and front skid plate make it look the part and new LED front and rear lights that make up the new Renault design language and rear skid plate with an extended third stop light and twin chrome bumper garnish standing on 18-inch alloys make it a handsome vehicle to be sure.
Under the bonnet in both the Expression and Dynamique, the one on test, is a 2.5-litre normally aspirated engine that produces 126kW and 233Nm of torque, driving the front wheels through Renault’s CVT X-Tronic automatic transmission, or if you’re so inclined, a seven-speed sequential mode.
The roomy interior has also had a tweak with quality soft touch surfaces, satin chrome inserts on the steering wheel, gear lever and air vents, nifty chilled or heated front cup holders and with one of the longest wheelbases in its class rear passengers are just as comfortable with a class-leading 289mm of knee room.
I hadn’t driven the previous model, so I was suitably impressed by the levels of comfort and trim, especially the front seats which are some of the most comfortable I have sat in and from what I hear the switchgear is a big improvement too, as is the infotainment system.
My first thought when I pressed the accelerator was that perhaps this was a 2.0-litre variant as I wound my way out of the Pretoria CBD. It felt underpowered and unresponsive so I asked my partner to do a quick Google search which confirmed that it was indeed a 2.5-litre mill.
Heading out on the highway there was a slight improvement and while I understand that it was not designed for quick get up and go, the CVT despite the release’s insistence that it performs like a multi-ratio automatic whenever you need to accelerate quickly and it proposes an infinite number of gears, I can’t help thinking that the combination does the package no favours.
The suspension though works well and combined with a decent chassis provides a comfortable drive across all surfaces, especially along some corrugated roads I drove around farmlands, but you do need a rather heavy foot to keep it going.
Fully loaded with the family I suspect that your average fuel consumption will be a lot more than the claimed 8.1l/100km.
With a swath of technological and safety features including a five-star Euro NCAP rating, the Renault Koleos has a lot going for it.
I was looking forward to spending time behind the wheel, especially because it looks good, has a comfortable driving position and has a premium interior experience but sadly it’s let down by the sluggish performance.
The 2021 Renault Koleos comes standard with a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, a five-year/90 000km service plan and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Renault Koleos 2.5 Dynamique
- Engine: 2.5-litre, 4-cyl, petrol
- Transmission: Continuously variable (CVT)
- Drive: Front-wheel drive
- Power: 126kW @ 6000rpm
- Torque: 233Nm @ 4000rpm
- Fuel use: 8.1 l/100km (claimed)
- 0-100km/h: 9.5 seconds (claimed)
- Boot space: 464 – 1795 litres
- Warranty: 5-year/150 000km
- Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
- Price: R484 900 (2021)
Source: Willem van de Putte (IOL Motoring)