renault koleos review this isn t a japanese wrapped in haute couture

Renault Koleos review: This isn’t a Japanese wrapped in haute couture

This is a good example of a driver's SUV. Problem is... no one bought one

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

10 Feb 2018

If you haven’t heard of a Renault Koleos before this, don’t bother googling it up. You might just be disappointed. No, in fact, go google the first generation Koleos then come back to be wow-ed by just how much better looking this new generation one is.

It is hard to find a line that’s out of place or an angle that’s positioned awkwardly. Every curve, dip and bulge is where it should be, placed properly to give the Koleos much on-road presence. Helps too, that interestingly-designed lights that bookend the SUV. More so in the front; Renault’s emblem is bold, large and in the middle of the wide grille that threatens to swallow the headlights.

More so in the front, where you can tell there’s thought in the design. Renault’s emblem is bold, large and in the middle of the wide grille that looks as it’s chrome-finish is always meant to end with the headlamps on either side. Having that said, I can’t figure out what Renault wants me to feel about the daytime running lights. Are they supposed to be the letter ‘E’?

Doesn’t matter because once you’re inside, the first thing you’ll notice is the mega-sized portrait-oriented touchscreen panel that now houses the dials, buttons and switches that once populated the centre stack. It is obvious, then, that you control the in-car entertainment and air-conditioning with a series of taps. Oddly enough, Renault has decided to keep the temperature dials, recirculation and window heaters outside the digital space. Perhaps, it’s done more for design than anything; the interior will look plain otherwise.

Perhaps, what’s highly impressive about the Koleos is the restraint showed by Renault not to add a third row despite this French SUV shares the same platform as cousin X-Trail. It is a good thing because the Renault seems to be afforded with more leg room at the back. In fact, the space behind is very accommodating; heavier-set adults find it comfortable and that says plenty. Boot space aplenty, certainly more than enough for day-to-day versatility.

The rest of the bits and bobs are typical of Renault, and in some cases, all French makes. You’ll find more multimedia controls at the back of the steering wheel’s southeast quadrant. And you get cup holders... let's just say that they're not the most accommodating. 

Push to start the 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine, paired with a CVT, for motivation. 169 horses with 226Nm pulling the SUV forward without complaint, without a peep. Push the accelerator closer to the floor, the interior remains calm, collected and successfully muffling most of monotonous CVT.

So, the Koleos doesn’t have the immediate punch of a turbocharged engine as its European contemporaries do but stomp on the go-pedal and the Koleos will charge forward with a firm and consistent run up to the redline. You’ll rarely get there, the redline, simply for the fact that this isn’t what the Koleos is built for.

What the Koleos’ also isn’t built for bombing runs on the back road but here we are, being proven quite wrong. Not that the Koleos is the alternative to the Megane R.S., but for an SUV, this is arguably better than the much-vaunted Mazda CX-5. For an SUV, and a tall one at that, the Koleos shows plenty of restraint around the corners, then displaying loads of stability as it escapes the bend; having multi-link rears will do that for an SUV. It's more impressive when you realise that the Koleos is a 2WD and not a 4WD SUV. And the steering is much crisper than you might think, quickly pivoting the wheels and placing it where you want it to go.

The Koleos has a cushier ride than many of its contemporaries and the blip in ride-performance only comes when the SUV hits a patch of ruined tarmac, which is nothing rare. No one will mind the rougher ride on roughed-up roads, just praises piled on how plush the Koleos feels – something I noticed while testing the Renault and ferrying people around town.

It is nice to know that, in a time where almost every car manufacturer is popping out an SUV for every segment for the sake of profit and losing drivability along the way, Renault produces one that is nice to drive. Still, one reason the Koleos frequently gets passed up because of its slightly higher price then the competition. The one on test costs RM184,200 with tax, without insurance. Renault Malaysia has put together a good package that will make your ownership experience less stressful; a very good thing.  And if you’re in the market for a non-Japanese SUV, do yourself a favour and test drive the Koleos.

Renault Koleos 2WD



inline-4, naturally-aspirated


X-Tronic CVT

front-wheel drive


169hp @ 6,000rpm / 226Nm @ 4,400rpm



combined cycle fuel consumption



on-the-road, without insurance

Overall Rating

8 Rating