It’s once more into the breach for the Renault Koleos, as the French widen their assault on the SUV market. On looks, at least, it’s off to a good start, with a face that emphasizes the company’s distinctive design language. C-shaped daytime running lights will make it recognisable in your rear-view mirror, and the full LED headlights on higher-spec models should help at night.
Renault has put its best foot forward when it comes to standard equipment, and there are just two trim grades to choose from. The entry-level Dynamique S Nav gets 18in alloy wheels, half-leather interior and an infotainment system that allows full integration with your smartphone.
Unsurprisingly, there is a variety of safety systems as standard, like Blind Spot and Lane Departure Warning and Traffic Sign Recognition with Over-speed Prevention – so there’s even less excuse for being nabbed for speeding. Front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, an electronic speed limiter and cruise control all make it on the standard spec list, too.
The lack of availability of adaptive cruise control is surprising, but an even more glaring omission is the absence of a third-row seating option, so this is strictly a five-seat SUV, unlike many of the Koleos’s supposed rivals. D’oh. Renault has kept things simple in the engine department too, which is exclusively diesel for the UK market for now.
It kicks off with the familiar 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo that produces a modest 128bhp and useful 236lb ft of torque. It comes with a 6spd manual and drives the front wheels. All-wheel drive is only available with the larger 174bhp 2.0-litre dCi engine, as is the 7spd automatic transmission.
The Koleos is more refined than you might expect from its Kadjar DNA, and its ride comfort is right up there with some of the best in the segment. The steering is pleasingly direct and the FWD model handles particularly well, with little in the way of roll in the corners.
Performance is adequate rather than good, but at least it’s delivered in a smooth fashion. And that’s the Koleos in general: smooth, polished and quietly impressive, banishing memories of its non-illustrious predecessor. Rivals may outgun it in the seating department, but the big Renault fights back with style, specification and generous space for five.