Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review

Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review

I’m constantly intrigued by new words and whenever I review a car I find out the etymology behind the name. Koleos is Greek and, as far as I can tell, spelled κολεός. Try putting that in Google Translate and, well, you’ll find a very Latin name for a very female part of the body.

But I digress, and today I’m driving around in a black Koleos. It’s a medium-sized SUV with a few Nissan X-Trail underpinnings that has proper off-road four-wheel drive capabilities, although looking at the tyres and given the amount of rain we’ve just had I’m not that keen on driving on anything that isn’t at least a partial product of fractal distillation.

Renault Koleos 2014 frontIf I had mudplugger tyres I could lock the differential and get onto the rougher stuff as the ground clearance is pretty good (204mm) and the shape of the nose and tail gives it pretty good approach and departure angles (27 and 31 degrees respectively). You can tow 2000kg on a braked trailer if you want to take large toys on your adventures.

The Koleos is powered by a 126kW, 226Nm 2.5-litre petrol motor driving through a CVT gearbox and rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in 225/55R18 tyres. It’s all fairly unexciting stuff, but it all stacks up to an SUV that is a good compromise of rides – it’s fairly smooth over the majority of Renault Koleos 2014 rear quartersurfaces, but push it in the corners and you know that it’s an SUV and not a sports car as there’s plenty of body roll. The fuel consumption is a bit sports-car-like, though at a quoted 9.5l/100km. There is a 2-litre diesel version that we didn’t drive which produces 1kW more, but a stonking 360Nm of torque, so it should get off the line better.

The broad dashboard and large electric panoramic sunroof creates a sense of spaciousness in the front. Rear seat legroom is OK for kids and slightly shorter adults if you have a tall driver.

Renault Koleos 2014 front interiorThe Koleos scored 5 stars in the ANCAP crash test and comes with Emergency Brake Assist, six airbags and Electronic Stability Program.

Some European car makers have a history of making interfaces and usability that are, as they say there, un peu difficile. While other manufacturers seem to follow similar conventions the Renault method requires a bit of extra thinking about.

One example is the location of the seat heater switches: basically, out of sight. And because they’re a rocker switch with one way for low and the other way for high, you have to try to remember which one it was that made you feel like Renault Koleos 2014 dashboardyou’d just wet yourself and which one felt like it was trying to weld your buttocks together with the heat of a thousand suns.

On the steering wheel there are two enormous cruise control panels, but that isn’t where you turn the cruise control or speed limiter on – you do that using one of two fairly well hidden buttons down near the diff-lock and hill descent mode buttons. And that means that all the stereo controls are on a wide wand that is, you guessed it, out of sight. Pourquoi?

The final interface problem is the ridiculous key which threatens to break in my pocket and is cumbersome and unwieldy when almost all other manufacturers use a more Renault Koleos 2014 keycompact key.

Despite all my user interface criticism above, the Koleos does some things amazingly well. For example, when you open the split-folding tailgate there’s Renault’s ‘Easy Estate’ feature: two levers to automatically drop the rear seats into a totally flat position expanding the boot from 450 litres to 1380 litres. There are hidden compartments for storage in the floor at the rear, and these are great. There’s also a removable sleeve in the central binnacle, and the glovebox is cavernous: it should be called a coat box because it’s big enough to fit a coat in it. In the rear seats there are fold-up tables with cup-holders.

There’s a pretty good level of specification with the Koleos: Blind spot monitoring, Bose stereo system, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, Bluetooth integration, satellite navigation with advisory speed, automatic handbrake, hill start assist and b-xenon headlights which illuminate sideways as you turn, a child minder mirror and 18-inch wheels (which are the visual highlight of the car).

The Koleos has a mixture of frustrating user experience twinned with excellent user experience and it’s partly down to certain European manufacturers (Renault not being the only one) being stubborn.

You can’t just keep doing something differently to everyone else in the conviction that you are right when everyone else is spending billions of dollars on customer research and usability that proves it’s not. While it’s got some really usable and nifty features – some real genius moments – the Koleos is a capable, well-appointed car slightly tarnished by a lack of thought about key parts of the user experience.

You might also want to check out our articles on the Mazda CX-5Toyota RAV4Holden Captiva, and Ford Kuga.

Price: From $49,990


  • Alloy wheels are sharp
  • Some genius convenience features
  • Quite a lot of kit for the money


  • Frustrating design elements abound
  • Lots of body roll

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