Renault have introduced the mid-life facelift version of its top of the line Koleos SUV. We drove the feature packed SUV through the jungles of Tamil Nadu to assess its market readiness in the new avatar. Does the package work for India? We find out in this review
So what really has changed in the Renault Koleos facelift?
On the exterior, design remains predominantly the same. The car gets a new front grille, and a new frame for housing the triple chrome bars on either side of the bigger, bolder Renault logo. The design of the 17 inch two-tone alloy wheels is new as well. The Koleos also gets a new Maple Red color option.
The big news, however, is the introduction of new 2WD manual and 4WD manual variants. While the Koleos was earlier available only in the top of the line 4×4 AT version, the new variants will make the big SUV more accessible price wise. Nothing has changed on the inside, and the interior of the 4×4 AT variant that we drove remains exactly similar to the version it replaces.
In addition, the2.0 dCi engine of the earlier Koleos has been re-tuned to deliver more power. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine now produces 173 PS (23 PS more) of peak power and 360Nm (40Nm more) of torque. Interestingly, the brochure and official website is still showing the old specs for the power and torque output figures for the car
Does the increased power reflect in the way the car drives?
Well, the 2.0 dCi unit of the Koleos has been known to have a dearth of poke at the lower end of the rev range. Unfortunately, with the 6-speed automatic torque converter box, which by itself is a lazy unit, the vehicle does not respond instantly to big throttle inputs. The gearbox takes its own time figuring out the right cog, and then, with little juice at the bottom end, the car moves ahead without the push-back punch typically associated with diesel cars.
Part throttle response is good, and cruising around with relatively smaller variations in speed doesn’t cause any problem. However, trying to accelerate hard from low speeds results in a momentary pause, and a rather lackluster pull thereafter. Overtaking on median-less undivided highways also calls for effort and caution.
We are told that the response from the engine once the turbo spools up at 2000 rpm or thereabouts in the manual variants is good though. We wouldn’t be able to comment about the manual variants here though, as we did not drive one of those.
How well does it ride and handle?
The Koleos is a big SUV, and you cannot expect it to change directions like a fly owing to its heavy weight, higher center of gravity and large profile tyres. Having said that, the steering feel of the Koleos is nice, offering good feedback and allowing for a decent degree of enjoyable spirited driving around a variety of corners. Body roll, through present is not pronounced and is contained rather well, making the Koleos a composed set of wheels around most bends.
Ride quality though good, isn’t quite at the same level as the all-conquering Duster. Knowing that the Duster sits at a level much lower down the food chain, we expected the Koleos to dazzle us by swallowing even the most vicious bumps that the Indian roads threw at it. While it performed well, it didn’t quite overshadow the tall standards set by its smaller, much successful sibling.
What do you have to say about the comfort / space inside the cabin?
To start with, the Koleos has something no other car has. It has two 5 liter ‘secret’ compartments under the foot mats at the back seat. All along our way through the Mudumalai Forest Reserve, our cars were constantly checked by police– as poachers sometimes smuggle stuff out of the jungle. We were laughing our guts out all this while – for with the Koleos, if we really had to smuggle something, we would easily have without anyone noticing.
The Koleos earns a lot of brownie points for its features rich interior, flexible seating arrangement, loads of space and cubby holes available. The dashboard is a two-tone unit and made of soft to touch brownish grey material on top with beige treatment at the bottom. The dashboard is clean, with no recesses, except for the little crevice ahead of the central screen. The quality of finish is great, and everything is put together extremely well with no panel gaps or plastic edges which would suggest lousy build quality. The quality and feel of the buttons is good, though not quite in the league of the premium German cars.
The dashboard features 4 circular AC vents with flow and direction control. The vents have their bezels done in a glossy titanium resembling shade, and the material has been used as an insert in several other parts in the cabin. Steering wheel features mounted cruise control buttons, with audio controls hidden behind the wheel. Center console has three segments. Top level has the A/C controls, mid section handles the audio unit and at the bottom you have buttons for hill descent control, switching between 4WD / 2WD / Auto, cruise control and auto start/stop.
Both front doors have space for big bottles. There are three longitudinally arranged cup-holders behind the drive selector, followed by an armrest, which has some more space underneath. The arm-rest also lids the USB and aux-in sockets along with a 12V power supply. Even the rear doors have space for a one-liter bottle, and more. The back benchers also get two tray tables, map pockets on the front seats and cup-holders in the central arm-rest.
Boot space is liberal with 450 liters of volume available. Back seats can be flipped down very easily in 60:40 ratio to form a flat bed and increase the luggage carrying capacity enormously. The split tail-gate is a great feature. It can double up both as a pic-nic table and as a bench.
Seats are big, wide and draped in good quality leather. Under-thigh, back and shoulder support is great. There’s nothing to complain about at the back seats either, though legroom isn’t as expansive as we would have expected. Good headroom and reclining backrests add further comfort.
The Koleos is a comfortable car, with ample space and flexibility to lug a family of five to distant destinations for an extended time.
What about the features?
The Koleos is a feature rich car. The top of the line 4WD AT variant we drove comes loaded with everything from 6 way power adjustable front seats, 6 airbags, ESP, a terrific sounding BOSE audio system, cruise control, parking assist and a whole bunch of other bells and whistles.
The complete list of features available on the 4×4 AT variant is provided in the brochure scan below (Click to Expand). This is followed by an illustration of all the features and smaller details of the car
Leather wrapped steering wheel has mounted cruise control buttons. Audio buttons are behind the wheel, like in the case of the Duster and Fluence.
Central armrest has some space to store your wallet and cellphone. Aux-in, USB and power sockets are also housed in the same compartment
Menus for audio related settings
Glovebox is chilled. You can shut the A/C vent if you so wish
The buttons for audio, A/C and other controls on the central console. Some of the knobs are too small. You end up pressing undesired buttons many a times.
Check out the instrument console. Typical analogue layout for speedo, tacho, fuel gauge and engine temperature. Central MID offers great information, including fuel efficiency related data, while the display under the fuel gauge shows the gear engaged and drive train selected.
Some of central MID readouts
The six-speed auto gearbox is quite lazy. It improves a bit and gets more manageable when put into the manual mode.
Back seats can be flipped down in 60:40 ratio very easily to create a flat bed.
Table trays and map pockets for the rear passengers
There is no central A/C vent for the back benchers. The outlet is positioned as a vertical unit in the B-pillar
Central armrest with twin cup-holders and some more space to store wallet /cellphones
Manual lumbar support adjustment for the driver’s seat
Even the rear doors feature space for a one-liter water bottle, with some more space to spare for another 600 ml cold-drink bottle.
Both front seats are 6 way power adjustable.
While the 8 speaker BOSE sound system delivers great output, we aren’t quite fond of the excessive branding across the car. Heck, even the front fenders of the car are labeled BOSE
The lever to bring down the lower portion of the split tail gate. Great utility for outdoor people
Koleos comes with a full size spare on an alloy wheel not steel rim.
The unique Koleos card key with all the functions
So what’s your verdict?
The Koleos is a well made, feature rich SUV which offers all the modern creature comforts to its occupants. It’s high on practicality, flexibility and comfort. While being comfortable, it handles quite well too for an SUV. The sweet sounding BOSE audio system comes as an added bonus.
On the downside, the engine-gearbox combo in the 4×4 AT guise is a bit of a letdown. The sluggish gearbox along with the peaky torque delivery makes the car feel slower than it actually is. You are left wondering as to where all of those 173 horses and 360 Nm of torque went, as the addictive diesel surge isn’t quite there to be experienced.
Finally, the Koleos, being a CBU isn’t exactly a cheap car to own. At Rs 26.19 lakhex-showroom Delhi, the Koleos resides in the Audi Q3 / BMW X1 territory. While the absolute utility / performance of the Koleos against those SUVs is a debatable topic, there is no questioning that Audi and BMW would draw much more interest for a potential customer in that segment as a more desirable brand.
As a showcase of what Renault is capable of doing, and maintaining a premium aura around the brand, the Koleos works well. However, we’ll have to wait for the car to be locally assembled before the prices are brought down and the car makes a strong business case for itself.
4×2 MT : 22.33 lakh
4×4 MT : 25.14 lakh
4×4 AT : 26. 19 lakh
Capacity Displacement (Litres) 2.0
Gears 6 + 1
Max Torque (NM @ 2000 RPM) 320
Max Power (PS @ 4000 RPM) 150
Fuel Efficiency (kmpl) 13.7
Acceleration 0-100 km/hr (seconds) 11.5
Wheel Base 2690
Overall Length 4520
Overall Width 2120
Unladen Height 1695/1710
Min/Max Ground Clearance 188/206
Approach Angle 27 Degree
Ramp Break over Angle 21 Degree
Departure Angle 31 Degree
Wading Depth 450
Kerb weight (kg) 1692
In-Car Storage (litres) 65
Fuel Tank (litres) 65
Boot capacity (dmcube) 450
TYRE & WHEELS
Turning Radius (m) 5.8
Tyre Size 225/60
Wheel Size R17
Spare Wheel Full-Size Alloy
2014 Renault Koleos Image Gallery