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Test driving the Renault Koleos

The Renault Koleos gets a facial, spawns two new variants and boasts more shove in its 2014 avatar

Renault has given its top dog in India, the Koleos, a mid-life facelift. In its 2014 avatar, the Koleos gets some cosmetic sprucing up on the outside, and has some added spunk with a re-tuned engine. It also gets two more variants added to its hitherto single variant lineup in India to bring the starting price down and make it more accessible. You can now have the Koleos in 2WD manual and 4WD manual variants in addition to the 4WD AT version, which was the only option available till recently.

Design on its mind
On the outside, while the design remains predominantly similar, the car gets a new front grille. The new frame holding the triad of chrome bars on either side of the bigger, bolder Renault logo is also new. The design of the alloy wheels for the car has also been altered, and the Koleos now features new 17-inch, two-tone diamond cut alloys. A new shade, Maple Red has been added to the available colour options. The 2014 Koleos continues to have the feature rich interior which it always has been lauded for. 



Engine and transmission
On the power and transmission front, Renault engineers have tweaked the engine to extract more juice out of the trusty 2.0 litre dCi motor. The four-cylinder diesel engine now produces 173 PS (23 PS more) of peak power and 360Nm (40Nm more) of torque. While 173 PS of power and 360 Nm of torque sound like a lot of fun on paper, the 2.0 dCi unit of the Koleos doesn’t quite have much at the lower end of the rev range. In conjunction 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 is a breeze. Trying to accelerate hard from low speeds results in a momentary pause and a rather lacklustre pull thereafter.


The eight speaker BOSE sound system is a highlight. Output is crystal clear and refined all the way up to the peak volume. There is a bit too much of BOSE branding though

Drive feel
The Koleos comes across as a fairly enjoyable vehicle with appreciable poise and an involved drive feel. Steering feedback is nice for an SUV and with a well-tuned suspension the big machine feels balanced and reasonably lithe around corners. Body roll, through present is not pronounced, endowing the Koleos with a composed set of wheels even when driven enthusiastically.


Back seats can be dropped to form a flat bed in 60:40 split ratio. Recline angle for the back benches can also be changed. Tray tables and rear A/C vents provide additional comfort

Cabin and features
Inside the cabin, the Koleos earns a lot of brownie points for its features — rich interior, flexible seating arrangement, loads of space and numerous cubby holes. The dashboard is a two-tone unit and made of soft-to-touch brownish grey material on top. The dashboard is clean, with no recesses, except for a little crevice ahead of the central screen. The quality of finish is good, and everything is put together extremely well with no panel gaps or plastic edges. The quality and feel of the buttons is good.


The split tailgate is a great feature to have. Not only does it work as ready- to-use table during picnics with ample strength in the hinges, but also doubles up as a bench

Both front doors have space for big bottles. There are three longitudinally arranged cup-holders behind the drive selector lever, followed by an armrest, which has some more space underneath. 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 at 450 litre. 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 serves the dual purpose of being a picnic table as well as a bench.


The interior is well built and has plenty of comfort and convenience related features, but some buttons are too small to be operated by those with thick fingers

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 top of the line 4WD AT variant comes loaded with everything from 6-way power adjustable front seats, 6 airbags, ESP, a terrific sounding BOSE audio system, cruise control and a whole bunch of other bells and whistles.

Our verdict
The Koleos comes across as a well made, feature-rich SUV that offers all the modern creature comforts to its occupants. It’s high on practicality, flexibility and comfort. While being comfortable, it handles quite well for an SUV. The sweet sounding BOSE audio system comes as an added bonus. On the downside, the engine-gearbox combo in the 4x4 AT guise is a bit of a letdown. While good as a standalone product, the Koleos’ CBU route of entry doesn’t work too well for its prospects as a value for money product. An asking price of R26.19 lakh ex-Delhi is a tad too high for its positioning, especially looking at its neighborhood populated by the likes of the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

Bells and whistles

>> 8-Speaker BOSE audio System
>> Six airbags
>> Electronic stability programme
>> Switchable 4-wheel drive
>> Cruise control
>> Dual zone climate control
>> Automatic headlamps/wipers

Price
Renault Koleos:  Rs 26.19  lakh

Technical specs
Engine --  2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo-diesel
transmission -- 6-speed Auto (Manual option also available)
Max Torque -- 360 Nm
Max Power -- 173 PS
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) -- 13.7 kmpl (4WD AT)

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