Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

The French way of doing things

The French are known for many things – croissants, the Eiffel Tower and for building quirky cars. That‘s a thing of the past, though. These days there are some truly great products  coming from La France. One of these is the medium-sized Renault Koleos SUV, which ANTON WILLEMSE JNR put through its paces.

The Koleos didn’t have a great start in life. Back in 2006 it first landed like an ugly duckling in a brand-new pond where other medium crossover SUVs were making a big splash. The facelifts in 2011 and 2013 didn’t help much, so when the second generation arrived in 2016, it needed to be a game-changer.

And it was, offering decent proportions and obvious SUV cues like roof rails, raised ground clearance, and a bulked-up silhouette. This time, it was all about elegant European form and design sensibility, an approach that was taken to the next level in the latest generation, which was introduced in South Africa in 2021.

Great looks

At first glance the latest iteration of the Koleos looks like a very big hatchback, and it’s only when you take a second look that you realise that it’s actually a SUV… and a very good-looking one at that! Renault’s modern design language translates well to most of its models, and it suits the large stature of the Koleos particularly well. It looks rather imposing, with some of its features – especially on the tailgate – successfully disguising its bulkiness. Our test model had LED headlights and two-tone 18-inch alloys.

Premium interior

The cabin of the Koleos is very well put together. There is plenty of space, and the focus was clearly on making the five available seats comfortable. The front seats are deep and wide, with electric adjustment for the driver and front passenger, but there is a surprise is the design of the second row – which is set higher to offer a good view and generous leg room. Things like a big glove box and deep centre console with two USB ports and a sliding central armrest with a storage top all smack of convenience and practicality.

In the centre of the dash sits an 8.7-inch capacitive touchscreen. The software does feel slightly dated and the controls take some getting used to. However, you soon realise that there is some merit to the weird French design. The Koleos is intended to showcase Renault’s premium chops, so it offers plenty of bells and whistles, including cruise control, a tyre pressure monitor, blind spot monitoring, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, a reverse camera, and parking sensors front, rear and to the side. Bootspace is a generous 464 litres.

Enjoyable drive

So, how does it drive? The steering provides good feedback, and the other controls have a quality feel about them. The engine is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol with 126kW and 233Nm on tap. It is supposed to have been fine-tuned over the years to reduce fuel consumption, which is stated at 8.8 litres/100km in the combined cycle. However, in the real world it was slightly thirstier.

A X-Tronic Continuously Variable Transmission is standard. It works with very little hesitation and hooks up very firmly when you push the throttle flat and want to overtake. In fact, it is very close to a traditional automatic, with the benefit of less mechanical complexity. The ride and handling of the Koleos can’t be faulted. It is compliant and offers fuss-free driving around town, without being soft and rolling on the corners. It feels solid, dependable and difficult to unsettle. I drove it on tarred and

gravel roads and found it to be equally at home on both.

The verdict

Despite its polished interior, stylish exterior and fine finish-es, the Koleos struggles to stand out in a very crowded medium SUV segment. It’s a pity, because the Koleos really is a great vehicle and most certainly worthy of making to this segment buyers’ shopping list.

Model line-up & pricing

• Koleos Dynamique CVT 4×2: R584 999

• Koleos Dynamique CVT 4×4: R634 999

*All models come standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and 5-year/90 000km service plan. Service intervals are set at 15 000km.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

You might also like

Now with a sting in its tail

The recent local introduction of the new Scorpio-N has elevated the Mahindra brand to a new level of refinement, capability and all-round appeal. After attending the launch event on the West Coast, Liana Reiners explains why.

Read More »

The bold and the beautiful

A nip here and a tuck there have seen the Palisade gain a fresh and modern persona that makes it worthy of its status as Hyunday’s flagship SUV in South Africa. With a new interior treatment and exterior design cues, new infotainment and safety features and advanced driver assistance features, LIANA REINERS believes that it just might be one of the best luxury SUVs out there at the moment.

Read More »