STAND OUT FROM THE SUV CROWD
1. THE PRICE IS A KNOCKOUT
Renault recently wound back the starting price of its base Koleos Life to $29,990 drive-away. The only option is metallic paint. The drive-away price is the same price as the current deal on the Nissan X-Trail ST, which is the same car underneath with 2.5-litre four-cylinder and CVT in common. The Koleos has much more standard kit. For starters, it has Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto, a large digital speed display, dualzone airconditioning and full-size spare — all of which the Nissan lacks at this price. The Renault has the peace of mind of a five-year warranty, the Nissan only comes with three years’ coverage. The Koleos is also cheaper to service than the Nissan. Renault’s capped price service deal, with intervals of 12 months/30,000km, comes to $1159 over three years/90,000km. The Nissan has 12 month/10,000km service intervals and costs $1803 over three years/60,000km.
2. IT LOOKS GOOD INSIDE AND OUT
The Renault stands out from the SUV crowd. The oversized daytime running lights dipping into the bumper are designed to be seen on tree-lined stretches of country road. The dash has a large vertical touchscreen — it can be frustrating at first but you’ll master it in no time. Just be sure not to drive home from the showroom without having the dealer program your favourite radio stations. Renault’s volume control stalk behind the steering wheel enables the driver to flick through stations or adjust volume with fingertips and still grip the wheel.
3. IT’S HUGE INSIDE
The cabin is massive, with large door pockets and a generously sized centre console. The seat fabrics have a quality feel, although the plastics on the dash and doors are of the hard-wearing rather than soft-touch variety. The cargo area is one of the biggest in the business, even with the full-size spare (on a steel rim) underneath. At this price you don’t get a power tailgate but, as we’ve discovered, it’s faster to operate manually.
4. A FEW MINOR CAVEATS
It has a foot-operated park brake rather than a handbrake or electric switch. On the plus side this frees up some space between the front seats, and some people find it convenient. The suspension is comfortable most of the time, the Koleos steers well enough but occasionally decent sized bumps upset it. The final note is a first-world problem. This grade of Koleos does not get push-button start whereas the X-Trail does. The old-school remote central locking key needs to slot into the ignition.
5. IT’S RENAULT’S BEST-KEPT SECRET
I can’t figure out why Renault hasn’t sold more of these given it has more standard equipment than the base model versions of the X-Trail, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape and Holden Equinox. It also undercuts most of those on price.