At a sparkling ceremony in Dubai, on the 19th October, the new Renault Koleos made its Middle East debut, where it will launch before any other markets. This brand new 5 Seat SUV, the flagship of the range, is designed to rival the likes of the Kia Sorrento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mitsubishi Outlander and others, is clearly focused on family buyers with its increased rear seat and load carrying spaces. At launch it will only have 5 seats, though there is a potential for a seven seat variant at a later date.
The new design, sitting on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail, offers a modern, stylish profile that is much sleeker than most of its competitors. Newly designed LED driving and running lights complement the car and branding it as a member of Renault’s new fleet. Equally, the interior trim level reveal a complete makeover, with the 10” touchscreen in the centre of the dash together with heated/ventilated seats (in some variants) being key differentiators in this highly competitive segment of the market.
On the technology front, the Renault designers did not stop there, providing complete control of the interior lighting, which can be altered to a myriad of colours. The Koleos also features the R-Link2 system that serves as a hub to control things like the Bose audio system, navigation, hands-free telephone use, and other driver aids such as Blind Spot warnings, self-parking, remote starting, etc. Overall the interior is luxuriously appointed and is certainly at the top of pile in its class. After spending a few hours with the car, both as driver and passenger, I had some concern as to the comfort of the rear seats on a long journey as the rake of the seat back is not far off vertical, which has no doubt been done to increase the rear load space, however, the driver and passenger seats were truly excellent, most especially with the ventilation on full during a hot day’s driving.
At this time, all of the Middle East’s variants will be supplied with the 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower engine. The power of this combined with the weight of the car and the CVT gearbox, the X-Tronic transmission, which has been designed to enhance driving enjoyment and reduce fuel consumption compared with conventional automatic transmissions. In my opinion, the current drivetrain positions the car more as a City SUV than a desert basher. The performance is rather sluggish, as the Koleos is a heavy car, which needs at least another 50 horsepower to make it a usable desert warrior, or even to tackle day to day overtaking on single track roads. The ground clearance of the car, at over 210mm, perhaps provides a pointer to Renault’s destination for the model, as this is high enough to allow for some serious off-roading if it gets the engine and gearbox to match.
In the top of the range 4×4 model that we tested, delivers an all-wheel drive system that permanently monitors grip levels to guarantee optimal traction in any condition. It is very easy to use, with a control switch situated to the left of the steering wheel enabling the driver to select one of the three modes: 2WD, 4WD AUTO or 4WD LOCK without removing their hands from the wheel. In 4WD AUTO mode, the system permanently analyses conditions and grip levels and uses the information provided by its sensors to calculate the ideal front/rear torque split. Up to 50 percent of available torque can be transmitted to the rear wheels if necessary. When travelling off-road, the 4WD LOCK engages permanent four-wheel drive to distribute available torque equally between the front and rear axles (50/50).
However, all of the minor complaints above must be balanced against the cars price. Starting at around BHD 7,500, the Koleos offers tremendous value for money. The sheer quality of its design and equipment levels a vehicle in a far higher price bracket. Taken as a package, it will give its competition a good run for their money and may even force others to rise to the Renault’s standards.
For more info or a test drive, visit the Renault showroom in Sitra or call Tel. +973 1770 5705