The D-Segment SUV sector is growing at quite the pace in Ireland, and Renault's addition of the Koleos to their Irish fleet is a firm sign that they want part of the action. Over the last few months we have seen some new large SUV cars on our roads. As the D-segment saloon sector begins to slowly decrease, the D-segment SUV is slowly on the rise. There can be no denying that SUVs are getting more popular in Ireland. Look at the mass of C-segment SUV cars that are currently on our roads. You have the hugely popular Hyundai Tucson, the Qashqai, the Tiguan, and Renault's own Kadjar. That section of Irish car sales is booming and it now appears that there is a growing space in the larger SUV race.
The new Renault Koleos has been around for some time. In fact, the car was first introduced in 2007, but it only managed to stay in our market for three years. The problem at the time was that there was no appetite for something like this from Renault. The Nissan X-Trail (on which the Koleos was based) was doing well enough for customers, as was the likes of the Rav4. The new Koleos however, should receive a warmer welcome. Renault's reputation for building and selling SUVs has certainly improved, with the Kadjar and the smaller Captur holding their own. Now is a good time for Renault to be in the Koleos space.
Easy Park Assist in the Koleos
Last week, the Car Buyers Guide team had the pleasure of driving the new Skoda Kodiaq. That car offered a great mix of comfort, value for money, and space. The Koleos wouldn't be far off in those departments. Yes, the Kodiaq can boast a better entry-level price, but Renault has excluded the bottom level spec completely from the Irish market - so what you get for your €34,490 at entry is more generous than an "entry-level" price would suggest. We're learning from the likes of Peugeot that most buyers are setting their sights towards the middle-to-higher trims, and Peugeot claims that their new 3008 SUV is selling most from level 3 trim and up.
There are some similarities between the Kodiaq and the Koleos. Both offer excellent row-two space. Both have vast driver cockpit areas, both offer nice interiors, and both have easy-to-use technology. Skoda's infotainment set-up would be more to my personal taste, but R-Link is a good system and there would be a large number who would choose it over Skoda's Connect system. I'm still trying to figure out if I prefer the exterior appearance of the Koleos over the Skodiaq. I think the front of the Koleos is a bit more attractive and I love the muscle of the sides in front of the A-pillar, but as a full package to look at, I thhink it might be a case of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" on this one.
Renault has opted not to make a 7-seat version available, and I'm not sure yet if this is a wise move. Yes, it would possibly deflect sales from their Grand Scenic, but with the likes of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the Kia Sorento, the Nissan X-Trail, and more, available with seven-seat options, I'm not sure I fully understand their logic. Maybe it was a good move though, you see Renault has said that their focus is more on luxury rather than the practicality of sitting extra bodies into a car. This is nice in theory, but I hope it doesn't bite them in the backside if punters decide that they want both the luxury and the utility - as is available with a lot of the competition.
Our test drive was very brief - but we did manage to get 15km in each of the two engines available. Yep, we know, 15km is not much - but we should have a full test drive soon. I must say that I thought the automatic gearbox was good in the 2.0 litre dCi 175 4x4 model. I experienced a bit of lag when I put the foot down to take off, but the 175bhp is certainly enough for over taking. The lag may come from the CVT X-tronic transmission. Usually I am not a fan of CVT boxes - there has been a few exceptions like in the Subaru Levorg - but it does work well in the Renault Koleos. The 1.6 dCi, which will be the big seller for Renault, is a nice car and the 6-speed manual gearbox is good. Steering offers nice feedback in the models that I drove - the 4x4 obviously feels more grounded. On corners, you will feel body roll (especially if you're sitting in the back) - but this is par for the course in SUVs of this size.
We brought the 4x4 on a nice little off-road course, with some challenging-enough obstacles. It did its job very well. However, I would only recommend the 4x4 version to people who would actually need it. This car will get you up a hilly road on a mucky/icy day. It’ll probably even get you through muddy fields or over very shallow rivers. If you are in the market for a 4x4 to get you through these type of obstacles, I beg you to ask your dealer to bring you out and show you what it can do.
Back to that "luxury over utility" thing. I will certainly give Renault their dues. The interior is the best I've experienced yet from Renault. The rear cabin is huge with plenty of leg, shoulder and head room. They come well specced too, with USB connection points to both the front and back (as well as 12v charge points - I think we counted one in the front, one in the middle and another in the boot). There is netting on the back of the front seats, so kids or adults can store their newspapers and books. The rear also has a very tiny transmission tunnel, and because it is so small, I don't see any issue with getting three adults in there. Oh, and the higher spec, Signature Nav, model gets bum warmers to the rear. One thing that I must note is that it seems that the materials within both trims of Koleos we drove had very high quality materials - most notably the door handles inside the vehicle!
Prices for the 2017 Renault Koleos start from €34,490 for the Dynamic Nav dCi 130 – this should be the big seller and the trim is very generous. Entry level for the Signature Nav trim costs €36,790. The top-end Signature Nav dCi 175 Automatic will set you back from €46,790.
All-in, the Koleos is an impressive and luxurious offering. Personally, I’d like to see a 7-seat option, but as five-seat SUVs go, this is a good one. Others worth looking at include; the Skoda Kodiaq, the KIA Sorento, the Nissan X-Trail, and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.