Renault has enjoyed considerable success with both the Captur and Kadjar crossovers, and now it introduces its largest SUV yet. The Koleos brings with it a more stylish exterior and a spacious cabin, but the lack of a seven-seat option may rule it out of the running for an increasing number of buyers who crave MPV practicality in an SUV style.
In the metal
Of its trio of SUVs, Renault's Koleos is the most conservatively styled and were it not for the distinctive C-shaped daytime running lights that first appeared on the current Renault Megane, it could be argued that the styling is a touch unremarkable. Alternatively, it could be posited that, in a market with increasingly sharp and edgy designs, the Renault cuts a classier swathe. Whatever side of the fence you sit on; you can't dispute the Renault's presence. The Kadjar is far from small, but the Koleos builds on this and is bulked out in the right places.
Inside is where things get a bit more impressive, with space being one of the prominent features. In the front, you'll find seats that are much more comfortable than what is usually found in a Renault. A tick of the Climate Pack on the options list adds seat heating and ventilation along with a heated steering wheel, windscreen and heated options for the two rear outer seats. Speaking of the rear, there is no shortage of space. The obvious elephant in the room is the lack of a seven-seat option, but many buyers will prefer to have more space in the back in addition to its 579-litre boot instead of a squeezed-in third row that is infrequently used.
The 1.6-litre dCi diesel engine is common throughout Renault's range and with good reason. It can often show good form in terms of fuel consumption and given the company's more recent use of improved sound insulation, means it doesn't make that much of a racket. Choosing it in the Koleos means you can only have front-wheel drive and a manual transmission, though this is unlikely to deter too many people.
There is plenty of adjustability for the driving position to suit the majority of buyers, and the gear selector falls to hand easily thanks to the raised centre console. At slower speeds, the 1.6-litre diesel has the right amount of torque, so there's no lack of pulling power despite the Renault's size. Gear changes feel positive, too. The higher driving position will also have appeal on its own, and while the visibility is good in the rear and door mirrors, we found the latter to be placed a touch high and slightly obstructive to your view at some junctions.
Out of town, the Koleos settles nicely and cruises along even at motorway speed with little effort. Some may find more of a draw towards the larger 2.0-litre engine, but where it counts this smaller unit doesn't concede all that much in the performance stakes. As we mentioned, noise suppression is good around the engine bay, and there is only more noticeable road noise on poorer surfaces.
Hit some bends and the Koleos retains its composure, with little in the way of body roll. That's not to say that the suspension is rock solid, far from it in fact, but Renault has done a solid job in ensuring that its top-line SUV handles well. Steering is direct in this 1.6-litre model, although we found this to be less the case in the all-wheel-drive 2.0-litre version - something to consider.
What you get for your money
Just two specification grades will be available on the Koleos, 'Dynamique S Nav' and 'Signature Nav'. Renault fits the bulk of the standard equipment to the Dynamique S Nav model, such as 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars, electrically heated and folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass. Inside, there is part-leather upholstery, ambient lighting, cup holders that can heat or cool your drinks, dual-zone climate control and keyless start. A seven-inch R-LINK2 infotainment system includes DAB radio and Bluetooth streaming in addition to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity for your smartphone. Satellite navigation is also a standard item and features TomTom LIVE traffic updates in real-time.
A €2,300 premium is the cost to upgrade to the Signature Nav equipment grade and this gets you some nicer things. The wheels change to 19-inch items and you get the full LED headlights. Inside, there is full leather upholstery with heated front seats, upgraded media system featuring a larger 8.4-inch portrait touchscreen and a powered tailgate.
It's too soon to say just how much the lack of a seven-seat option will hinder the Renault Koleos. Leaving that aside, this largest of the three SUVs in the company's range seems to be the best and most refined, too. With conservative but appealing styling outside and a well-appointed and spacious interior, this is one SUV that should go down well on the Irish market.