Mov­ing on up

The new Re­nault Koleos is due to make its way to lo­cal shores. We had first crack at the SUV in France.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - IMPRESSIONS - By RIZAL JO­HAN rizal@ thes­tar. com. my

AN en­tourage com­pris­ing se­lect media mem­bers from the Malaysian mo­tor­ing com­mu­nity was in­vited by French mar­que, Re­nault, to the iconic city of Paris to ex­pe­ri­ence the new Koleos, its flag­ship D- seg­ment SUV.

The all- new SUV was re­vealed at the Beijing Mo­tor Show 2016 back in April as part of its global line- up.

At that time though, it was yet to be of­fi­cially called the Koleos which orig­i­nally be­gan life as a com­pact SUV in 2000.

While the name re­mains the same, the new Koleos has now grown in size and has added the level of re­fine­ment and fea­tures found in pre­mium cars.

Not to men­tion ro­bust­ness and off- road ca­pa­bil­i­ties on its all- wheel drive vari­ant.

The Koleos’ ar­chi­tec­ture is de­rived from the Com­mon Mod­ule Fam­ily ( CMF- CD) mod­u­lar plat­form which was de­vel­oped by the Re­nault- Nis­san Al­liance.

This ar­chi­tec­ture is shared among other mod­els in the Re­nault and Nis­san range such as X- Trail and Qashqai for the lat­ter and the Es­pace, Tal­is­man and Kad­jar for the for­mer.

As the new Koleos is set to storm mar­kets across the globe, a slate of vari­ants have been pre­pared in or­der to meet world­wide de­mands. A pre­sen­ta­tion was held at the Morte­fontaine test circuit lo­cated just north of Paris where it was re­vealed that the Koleos will be avail­able in 2.5- litre petrol and diesel en­gines matched to X- Tronic au­to­matic con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sions ( CVT), with 4X2 and 4X4 op­tions. The new Koleos is ex­pected to be of­fi­cially launched in Malaysia this month and will be of­fered in the 2.5L petrol 4X2 vari­ant only and is al­ready open for book­ing priced at RM172,800 in Penin­su­lar Malaysia ( on- the- road in­clu­sive of GST, without in­sur­ance and for pri­vate reg­is­tra­tion).

The re­stricted grounds at Morte­fontaine is sit­u­ated lit­er­ally in a dense for­est with var­i­ous on- and off- road tracks. Its nat­u­ral lo­ca­tion is ideal from pry­ing eyes and its tran­quil­lity is only in­ter­rupted by the sound of the oc­ca­sional tyre screech. This is where we got a good look at the new Koleos and got to drive it off- road as well.

At first glance, the Koleos comes off as stylish and el­e­gant.

The bold front- fas­cia fea­tur­ing the very prom­i­nent di­a­mond- shaped in­signia, chrome slats and the tall and slim C- shaped day­time run­ning lights ( DRL) gives it a sense of pres­ence.

Its slen­der body is ac­cen­tu­ated slightly by the front and rear wheel- arches which gives it an ath­letic ap­pear­ance.

The roofline, ac­cented by alu­minium bars, ta­pers to­wards the rear at an an­gle which in­stantly screams shoot­ing brake pro­file.

And it’s equally en­tic­ing at the rear with its eye- catch­ing long and wide tail­lamps which wraps around the body and cov­ers al­most the en­tire width of the car, break­ing only in the mid­dle for the Re­nault logo.

There is also the chrome in­serts which out­line the twin tail pipes.

It is also an en­tic­ing propo­si­tion in the cabin. There is no mis­tak­ing the in­te­rior’s up­mar­ket look, feel and de­sign. The leather uphol­stery, soft touch ma­te­rial and spa­cious­ness ( a wheel­base of 2,705mm) is un­doubt­edly invit­ing. On top of that, the cen­tre dash ex­udes con­tem­po­rary styling es­pe­cially the cen­tre con­sole which houses the 8.7in por­trait dis­play akin to that of a tablet.

The cool thing about this dis­play is that it is a touch­screen and it be­haves like a tablet ( not just touch but also two- fin­ger zoom, page scrolling etc.).

The Koleos is fit­ted with the R- Link 2 mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem which in­cludes ra­dio, in­fo­tain­ment, nav­i­ga­tion, hands- free tele­phony and driver aids.

The driver has an in­stru­ment panel which fea­tures a 7in dig­i­tal dis­play right in the cen­tre hemmed in by two ana­logue dis­plays for fuel and tem­per­a­ture. The Koleos’ cabin has all the mod­ern con­ve­niences one ex­pects for an SUV in­clud­ing con­nec­tiv­ity and charg­ing ports, tem­per­a­ture con­trolled seats, stowage and safety fea­tures such as six airbags, anti- whiplash front and rear head­rests and ISOFIX anchorage for child seats.

Then it was time to get be­hind the wheel and see how the Koleos han­dled off- road du­ties at Morte­fontaine.

The ter­rain was mostly soft sand and we went through the course which con­sisted of up­hill climbs and down­hill de­scents and through un­even ter­rain.

Over­all it was a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause the Koleos of­fers a com­fort­able space to be in and its got enough power to get the mo­men­tum go­ing.

The next morn­ing, af­ter break­fast at the Moli­tor Ho­tel, lo­cated in the 16th dis­trict of Paris ( the city con­sists of 20 dis­tricts) and the 16th is the more af­flu­ent neigh­bour­hood, we set out for our test drive.

Suf­fice it to say, driv­ing in the Koleos with a perched view around Paris is very dis­tract­ing be­cause ev­ery­where you look it’s like a scenic land­scape out of a post­card.

Of course, you are bound to see the Eif­fel Tower in the dis­tance; and all around the var­ied ar­chi­tec­tural land­scapes from the me­dieval age such as Gothic struc­tures ( most fa­mously the Cathe­dral of NorteDame) and the Lourve, which was orig­i­nally a fortress and is now one of the largest art mu­se­ums in the world.

Nav­i­gat­ing through Paris city streets can be tricky as well as adopt­ing the lo­cal driv­ing eti­quette. We had the help of the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem on the Koleos to take us around and still we took wrong turns but that only meant spend­ing more time with the Koleos.

We soon left the city and headed out to­wards the coun­try­side where the roads were nar­rower, windier and hilly too.

We found the Koleos easy to han­dle and drive around these parts. We couldn’t ac­cel­er­ate too many times as there were pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists, not to men­tion cam­eras ob­serv­ing one’s speed limit.

When­ever we did though, the car proved to be con­fi­dent and sta­ble.

We turned back to Paris for our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion as a barge awaited us at the River Seine for lunch.

For a city that is known the world over for its art, his­tory, ar­chi­tec­ture, fash­ion and lit­er­a­ture, de­sign­ing an SUV that is dis­tinc­tively French is no easy task.

Yet, af­ter driv­ing the Koleos around that morn­ing, it felt as if it nat­u­rally be­longed there.

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