What's the used Renault Koleos estate like?
With SUVs currently on-trend, it’s not surprising that the alliance that contains those two huge motoring manufacturers Nissan and Renault should have produced a couple of prime examples. The family-sized Nissan Qashqai SUV has had more than a helping hand in the broadly similar Renault Kadjar, for example, and moving up to the larger SUV class the Nissan X-Trail shares much of its underpinnings with the Renault Koleos. All four cars share the same common platform, in fact, albeit lengthened in the larger SUVs, so while they may look different up top they are effectively sisters under the skin.
The Koleos has a distinctive Renault look, with its deep grille and plenty of brightwork along the sides. It’s a long car, too, and rather muscular, and it comes as a surprise to learn that it’s actually only a five-seater car rather than a more practical seven-seater. This is compounded by the fact the subcutaneously similar Nissan X-Trail is available as a seven-seater, as are one or two others of this size, although if you needed those extra seats in your car Renault would be happy to point you in the direction of its Grand Scenic and Espace models.
Two engines are available: Renault’s 1.6-litre dCi 130 and a more powerful 2.0-litre dCi 175. The 1.6 Koleos is front-wheel drive as standard, while the larger 2.0-litre engined car comes with four-wheel drive.
Trims are limited to two. Dynamique S Nav models come with a 7.0in touchscreen, with a larger, tablet-style 8.7in screen on the top of the range Signature Nav trims. This is okay to use, but you’ll find those systems in a Sorento, Santa Fe and Kodiaq much more fathomable: some of its features aren’t that easy to find within the multitude of menus, and it can be a little ponderous to process commands at times. Whichever screen size you have it’ll be well kitted out. Every version gets Tom Tom live-traffic sat-nav, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring - this lets you operate selected apps from your phone via the main screen.
On the road, the Koleos proves to be a little unrefined, with either of its engine options. With 128bhp, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the smaller 1.6 diesel would feel rather underpowered in a large SUV. Actually, with plenty of low-end pep, it manages to be relatively breezy around town, with just about enough in reserve for motorway excursions.
The more powerful 2.0 173bhp diesel with four-wheel drive and the optional CVT automatic gearbox is adequately brisk, but if you’re trying to overtake on a country road you’ll still be needing a surprisingly big gap to make it safely past.
Most infuriating is the gearbox’s hesitancy off the line. It makes pulling out of junctions an exasperating experience, as it ever so slowly winds itself into action. The standard six-speed manual 'box might be a better bet if you’re an impatient sort.
Alas noise in the interior is pronounced, especially from the engine, but almost equally from the road and the wind - the Koleos feels utilitarian rather than plush. This is made worse by a ride that thumps into bumps and potholes and never really settles down; it feels pretty uncomfortable most of the time.
Inside is a reasonable driving position set high for good visibility. It’s multi-adjustable too, with electric operation of the driver’s seat and steering wheel on the top trim. The majority of plastics inside are nicely textured too, while all versions get plush leather on the wheel and gearlever, plus leather-effect grab handles on the centre console. There’s some fake timber with LED ambient lighting, although this does look a bit tacky. The switches and other controls don’t work with the precision of those in, for instance, a Mazda CX-5.
There’s also a configurable digital instrument panel that’s standard on all models. While you can change what it displays, it can’t show as much information and isn’t as attractive as Volkswagen’s Active Info Display. For the most part, the rest of the dashboard is well conceived: most switches fall easily to hand, but the climate control functions operated through the infotainment screen can prove an unnecessary faff.
Space in the Koleos is good up front, and leg room is plentiful in the rear. However, head room is more limited for taller passengers, mostly due to the panoramic sunroof, which eats into the available space. The rear seats don’t slide or recline, and the boot isn’t especially large for this class. The main issue here is obviously that your Koleos will only have five seats and not the seven others of similar size offer.
Find a used Renault Koleos in the What Car? Classifieds here
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