Despite the world stampeding towards SUVs from the 1990s and into the 21st century, Renault has stubbornly refused to join the many manufacturers around the globe who were equally swift in meeting demand. Indeed, despite showing a concept off-roader as early as 2000, their first entry in the four-wheel drive stakes didn’t arrive until 2008, when credit crunch and world recession were about to puncture car sales and burst the SUV bubble in the process.
If there was a silver lining to be found, it was that Renault hadn’t opted for some massive machine. The new Koleos turned out to be a rather neat 4×4 developed in conjunction with Nissan, based on the latter’s X-Trail. True, the styling is rather bland, being reminiscent of a typical hatchback that happens to be rather elevated. But the Koleos fills a gap in the Renault offering, one up from the smaller hatches and one down from Renault’s impressive range of family cars and (especially) people carriers.
The combination of Renault engines and Nissan’s four-wheel drive system works particularly well and the Koleos cleverly doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Whilst it is perfectly happy dealing with the occasional muddy field or unmade track, it has no pretensions towards being a world-class offroader.
Neither does it aspire to the sporty performance claimed by some smaller 4WDs that claim sports car handling. Instead, the five-door Koleos simply provides refined and comfortable on-road transport with that all-important elevated driving position. To emphasize the point, the Koleos is available with front-wheel only drive.
The 2 litre turbodiesel comes with two levels of tune, teamed as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, though automatic transmission is offered. Buyers have considerable choice, with Dynamique, Dynamique S and Privilege models accompanied by a range of optional extras.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
France (built in Korea)
1,998 cc Straight Four Diesel
Varies according to model maximum top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Renault may have made a super-comfortable four-wheel drive vehicle that’s mainly designed for effortless road use, but it still likes to stress the off-road potential of the Koleos by offering a hill-descent control option. Perhaps it’s a case of satisfying ‘I-don’t-actually-go-off-road-much-but-could-cross-the-Sahara-if-l-wanted-to’ syndrome.