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.
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.