Is the Koleos on your ‘bucket’ list?
RENAULT might be coming over all Mrs Bucket (pronounced: Bouquet) on us, I fear.
In fact, with its latest addition it might well be courting her sister, Violet. You remember “She’s the one with the Mercedes, swimming pool, and room for a pony.”
Next year the French manufacturer famed for affordable runarounds like the Clio and Megane will launch its Alpine premium sports car brand with the A110 coupe — a near £50,000 rival to the likes of the Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C — and the Dsegment SUV you see here is the new flagship Renault.
Based on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail, it is larger than a Land Rover Discovery Sport or the Audi Q5 it almost rivals on price in the spec seen here.
At £34,200 the Koleos Signature dci 175 4x4 X-Tronic is in premium territory and an uprated Bose sound system, climate pack featuring heated steering wheel, seats and windscreen, and automated parking help nudge that over £36,000.
In the metal, the Koleos’s shared lineage is not as apparent as that of the Volkswagen Group’s current SUVs.
A set of 19-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof and full LED headlights marked this test vehicle out as a range-topper.
Inside there are the expected levels of cabin space and a familiar dashboard to anyone who has experienced the new Megane.
Good news in many ways, the materials are quality and look good, and the portrait 8.7-inch touchscreen of the R-LINK 2 multimedia system makes a striking centrepiece.
However, it is fiddly to navigate between menus and slow to react — swirling wheel appearing each time you re-engage the satnav — despite the otherwise effective functionality of a TomTom-powered system.
The Koleos’s accompanying seven-inch TFT colour instrument cluster will see it assume a variety of read-out and colour schemes to prioritise eco driving or a sporty red hue, the chosen theme reflected by interior mood lighting.
Leather seats add more tactile quality to an interior that feels a cut above the likes of Kia, Ford and certainly Vauxhall. On a par with Volkswagen, dare I say.
Driver aids include autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning system and blind spot alerts as well as a reversing camera.
The interior is well blessed with space and storage, the boot also measuring a useful 579-litre capacity and featuring an electronic hood.
On the road the Koleos proves refined and extremely comfortable.
Despite intelligent four-wheeldrive which can deliver 50 per cent of torque to the rear wheels and features like hill descent control, the ride height suggests that it will be most comfortable on-road.
The X-Tronic transmission is a type of continuously variable unit I regularly pour scorn on but under harder acceleration it mimics a gearbox with ratios and there’s no intrusive drone of revs.
Neither is there any great level of economy.
Renault claims 47.9mpg fuel economy and 156g/km CO2 emissions, but I saw indicated mpg in the mid-to-high 30s.
A 9.5 second dash to 62mph and 125mph won’t set the world alight either, but the 175bhp and 280lb.ft. of torque delivered by two-litre turbodiesel engine never really came up short.
Maybe sister Violet would struggle with the concept of spending well over £30,000 on an SUV and not getting a Land Rover badge or otherwise.
In reality, though, Renault has created a viable alternative to the best of the more established premium-leaning SUV crowd at the first time of asking.