Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE -


Re­nault Aus­tralia sharp­ened the pen­cil, land­ing the front­drive Life vari­ant at $29,990. That’s the same price as for the 2011 facelift. For the money, the Koleos gets slicker styling, im­proved fit and fin­ish and a heap more gear, from tyre pres­sure mon­i­tors to auto head­lamps and wipers, re­vers­ing cam­era, rear sen­sors and a seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment touch screen. It is also $500 cheaper than a com­pa­ra­ble Nis­san XTrail, which shares its run­ning gear.


The en­gine car­ries over. Re­nault has “re-en­gi­neered” the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion to im­prove fuel econ­omy. An op­tional Safety Pack on the mid-spec Zen vari­ant in­cludes autonomous emer­gency brak­ing, blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing and for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing.


If you’ve driven the old Koleos, you’ve driven the new one. Out­put from the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2.5-litre en­gine is un­changed, so there’s not much to re­port in the way it per­forms, at least in a straight line.


As a mid-sized SUV the Koleos ticks all the boxes with­out scor­ing the jack­pot. The on-road dy­nam­ics can’t quite match Mazda’s CX-5 and the look isn’t tough enough to chal­lenge the Nis­san X-Trail as a rea­son­able off-road propo­si­tion. That’s not to say the Koleos isn’t im­pres­sive on bi­tu­men or gravel.


With a 150mm growth spurt, the Koleos be­comes one of the largest mid-sized SUVs. Rear pas­sen­gers get most of the ex­tra space, with great legroom and de­cent head clear­ance un­til you lean to­wards the doors. The ex­te­rior is more con­ven­tional SUV.

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