Out­stand­ingly av­er­age

Mk2 keeps abreast of over­crowded SUV mar­ket trends, but that’s all

CAR (UK) - - First Drives -

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HERE ARE THREE mildly in­ter­est­ing things about this re­place­ment for a model which rose with­out trace in its first it­er­a­tion. Firstly, it will not be avail­able with seven seats, un­like some SUVs of the same size. Se­condly, de­spite diesel’s dodgy cur­rent sta­tus, there will be no petrol op­tion in the UK. And, thirdly, its CVT trans­mis­sion is ac­tu­ally bear­able to live with.

Re­nault jus­ti­fies its de­ci­sion not to con­sider seven seats on the ba­sis that styling was more im­por­tant, and that the ad­di­tion of an ex­tra tier would sim­ply cramp sec­ond-row space. On board, the com­pany’s wel­come in­te­rior de­sign re­nais­sance merely treads water. It won’t bowl you over.

At launch, the Koleos will be avail­able with a choice of three pow­er­trains fea­tur­ing two diesel en­gines: a 128bhp 1.6 mar­ried to a six-speed man­ual and front-wheel drive, and a 172bhp 2.0-litre unit with all-wheel drive and a choice of six-speed man­ual or Re­nault’s seven-speed X-Tronic CVT au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. For once the CVT doesn’t sound like a bad day at the abat­toir ev­ery time you prop­erly put your foot down; the artificial in­tro­duc­tion of seven ‘steps’ in the trans­mis­sion works well.

There’s a marked difference in han­dling be­tween the 1.6- and 2.0-litre mod­els. The all-wheel-drive 2.0-litre car’s steer­ing leaves the driver feel­ing in con­trol, but never truly in charge. This, al­lied to only mod­est grip lev­els, a cer­tain amount of body roll and a ground clear­ance of 210mm, means the Koleos be­comes in­creas­ingly grumpy about cor­ners if they fol­low too soon one af­ter an­other. The front-drive 1.6 is bet­ter dy­nam­i­cally. Not only does the steer­ing feel bet­ter weighted, less artificial and more en­gag­ing, but it’s far hap­pier to change di­rec­tion.

There are two trim lev­els, Dy­namique S Nav or Sig­na­ture Nav. The former, with a re­spectably lav­ish stan­dard equip­ment spec­i­fi­ca­tion is set to be the favoured op­tion in the UK, mated to the 2.0, all-wheel-drive, CVT pow­er­train.

With the word ‘rea­son­able’ pre­fix­ing prac­ti­cal­ity, per­for­mance, comfort, ride qual­ity and off-road abil­ity, it re­mains to be seen if buy­ers will feel the same about a price of £31,900 for that com­bi­na­tion.

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