Renault: Renault Koleos 2008 Review

renault-koleos

At this time of year schools across the country begin to quieten down for the end of the year: students take off on exam leave, teachers celebrate, etc. It isn’t just schools that are slowing down after a busy term, car manufacturers are also busy doing their homework and preparing for a tough period ahead. Renault is using this time to launch the Koleos, its first offering in the very competitive crossover category, and one student who has arrived late in the school year. SUV and crossover vehicles have thrived in the past few years and most car makers have been busy enrolling new or upgraded models in this class. Only now with the school term ending and global sales for larger vehicles down, Renault shows up at the school gates with its new French exchange student, the Koleos.

At first glance the Koleos looks understated in appearance and inconsistent with the flamboyant design that defines many French vehicles. On closer inspection the Koleos has some exotic touches, and love it or hate it you can’t accuse it of being boring. Inheriting the Renault family face, the Koleos has pushed back headlights and a dipping nose adorned with a dominating silver badge. The Koleos adopts a roundness that is highlighted by aluminium roof rails and a tapered back end with wrap-around rear lights. It is unusual in appearance and makes refreshingly little attempt to fit in with its peers.

The interior blends style and practicality well and is a potential selling point for those who value internal aesthetics.  A variety of interior equipment levels are available, the tested model had the Dynamique pack which smartly matches charcoal cloth and plastics to chrome effect trimming. There is symmetry throughout the cabin and a simple, easily read instrument cluster makes life easy. However, the centre control console wasn’t very intuitive to use and I found myself having to look down regularly while driving. This was helped by good steering wheel controls and a high set info display mid-dashboard. There are a great range of storage options available, including large door bins, deep centre binnacle and a chilled glove box. More discreet storage is available in a draw under the passenger seat and two underfloor storage lockers in the rear, perfect for hiding contraband from nosy teachers.

Fold down the rear seats and the Koleos provides a totally flat bed with a 1,380 litre storage capacity.  The rear seats have a 60/40 split a useful ski-flap, and with the passenger seat folded down items up to 260cm in length can be carried. The rear tailgate is split-opening and the bottom part of the hatch can perform as a useful platform or just as a seat for hanging out at lunchtime.

The Koleos may be new but it already has one friend in class and that’s the Nissan X-Trail, which shares the same platform and diesel motor. This power plant is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder which produces 110kW of go and a useful 320Nm of torque. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 8.3 litres/100 km. The Koleos trundles along to 100kph in 10 seconds which isn’t bad considering its 1713kg weight. But the acceleration never feels rapid, and the throttle response can be as slow as a Friday afternoon maths lesson. However, once it’s up to speed the Koleos is a competent cruiser.

Out the school gates and onto the road, it rides smoothly, and sucks up any bumps and dips in the road easily.  The sound of the diesel motor is always present but the cabin is very well secluded from road noise.  The handling is not very agile but it isn’t the fat kid in gym class either and body roll is well contained.  Steering could offer more feedback, but it responds keenly to driver input. Twists and turns see the Koleos staying fairly flat and there is good grip for powering out of corners. The 6-speed auto transmission (that has a manual change option) works the gears well, but frequently changes to draw the most from its motor.

Off road and on to the rugby field the X-Trail underpinnings give the Koleos enough skill to make the A-team. Kitted with Nissan’s ‘All mode I” hardware the Koleos has the potential to transfer up to 50% of the driving power to the rear if required.  This is made possible by an electromagnetic clutch in the rear diff. Under normal driving conditions it operates as front wheel drive, but change the Koleos into 4WD and it is brainy enough to do the calculations and guarantee good traction.

As that final school bell rings and yearly report cards are handed out the Koleos isn’t top of the class. It achieves well despite its late entry, but is roundly beaten by the X-Trail, upon which it’s based. It is the type of vehicle that will always be an acquired taste and this may prevent it from having as many friends as other crossover models. At a couple of grand more than the X-Trail it’s going to win friends that want a European badge, but the compromises over the X-Trail’s interior functionality (read the review here) will be too much for some. Regardless, the Koleos offers an affordable mix of European flair and Japanese reliability and that combination is always worth a second look.

For the full specifications of the Renault Koleos click through to the next page

Price: from $37,990

What we like:

  • It’s different
  • Sharp interior styling
  • Off road capable

What we don’t like:

  • Uncommunicative steering
  • Throttle response

Renault Koleos (2008) – Specifications

Engine

Capacity (cc) 1995
Bore x stroke (mm) 84X90
No. of cylinders / valves 4/16
Compression ratio 15.7:1
Maximum power (kw) 110
Maximum power (rpm) 4000
Maximum torque (Nm) 320
Maximum torque (rpm) 2000
Fuel type Diesel
Injection type Electronic Multi-point Direct Common rail + watercooled turbocharger
Anti-pollution system Three-way catalytic converter Oxidation catalyser with particle filter
Emissions standard Euro4

Chassis and Drive

Transmission 4X4 six-speed automatic
Front suspension MacPherson type
Rear suspension Multilink
Front and rear driven wheels with auto-adaptive transmission Yes
4×4 ALL MODE-i with ESP transmission Yes
Front/rear anti-roll-bar diameter (mm) 23/19.1
Ground clearance 188
All-terrain: approach/ramp breakover/departure angle (º) 27/21/31

Fuel Consumption and Emissions

Fuel tank (litres) 65
Urban – litres/100km 10.5
Extra urban – litres/100km 7
Combined cycle – litres/100km 8.3
C02 (g/km) 221

Weights (kg)

Tare mass 1713
Gross vehicle mass 2300
Unbraked trailer 750
Braked trailer 1350

Dimensons (mm)

Wheelbase 2,690
Overall length 4,520
Overall width (exterior mirrors folded/with exterior mirrors) 1,865/2,120
Height (with/without roof rails) 1,695/1,710
Front track 1,545
Rear track 1,550
Boot capacity (to top of rear seatback) 450 (dm3)

Words, Adam Mamo photography, Darren Cottingham

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Blogs: Donuts are sweet

There a too few things in this world that make a kiwi man smile; clearing a pool table from the break, seeing the Aussies lose on a sports field, or perhaps dropping a mate in it with the Mrs. But one thing we all can’t get enough of are donuts and not the type stuffed with fake cream you get from the Korean bakery up the street either. I mean tyre destroying, black mark making donuts, as men we just love them. Is it the primitive yell of the squealing tyres, or simply the stupidity of it all? Who knows, and it’s not my place to try and explain it.

But perhaps donuts shouldn’t be looked upon as an act of childish behaviour, and the world should accept that they do have special significance. Here are some examples:

Car Maintenance
I once pulled some donuts in an attempt to dislodge a stone from the brakes, it turns out that I needed to replace the pads, but it could have worked.

Revenge
I had friends who took a very hung-over mate out to get some breakfast and stopped to do some donuts to punish him for poor behaviour the night before only took a few donuts before the g-forces got too high and he had to be let out for a spew.

Relationship Counselling
You have a girlfriend, you want to break-up but you don’t want to hurt her feelings by not calling or another lame male method. It’s simple take her out for a seafood dinner then start pulling donuts on the way home, will probably only take a dozen before she dumps you. Problem solved.

Conspiracy Theory
Aliens love pulling donuts too, crop circles are just UFO donut marks.

Breaking World Records
Usually not associated with donuts, but recently the Guinness World Record for pulling 10 donuts in a row was broken by excellently named Russ Swift from the UK. Russ achieved the feat in just 16.07 seconds, and he’s no 18-year old boy racer either. Check it out below.

Disclaimer: The Skid Mark blog is in no way responsible for any injury or damage to property caused by indulging in donuts regardless of purpose or reason. In addition; no responsibility will be accepted for any lost cred due to the shitty execution of donuts in front of friends or unimpressed women.

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Blogs: Mazda RX-8 – good, but I’d have an MX-5 with a supercharger kit

I’ve had the moderately enviable experience of having driven Mazda’s RX-8 (currently in the Car and SUV garage) and the latest MX-5 (Mazda’s seminal sports coupe) around Pukekohe Park Raceway. While the RX-8 is a pretty nice car, it can’t touch the MX-5 for driver involvement and fun. The MX-5 is obviously slower, but with a supercharger kit that could be addressed. It’s not that the RX-8 is bad, because it is a lot of fun. It’s just that in the MX-5 you feel like you’re right in the middle of the car; right at the point where the car is in deep communication with you. It’s like you’ve got a heightened awareness of everything that the car is feeling. The RX-8, on the other hand, is quicker, and sounds like a mixture of a buzz saw and industrial strength blender fed through a resonant filter, and still is Both cars are impractical, though the RX-8 will allow you to take two midgets in the +2 rear seats. My choice would be to buy an MX-5 and use the money saved to modify it. The MX-5 is so perfectly balanced it’s hard to think of another car that’s not in supercar territory that gives you as much feedback. But if you absolutely must have a rotary engine, and you want something a bit different, then the RX-8 is going to be your choice.

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News: Lamborghini shows off the Gallardo Spyder

Lamborghini Gallardo Sypder fq

After Lamborghini proudly announced it was bringing a new model to the LA Auto Show many people suspected it would be a convertible, and they were right. The Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder is the drop-top follow up to the Coupe.

The new folding top runs via a hydraulic pump as well as electric motor that can close and raise the top in around 20 seconds. The headlights have been slightly updated with new LEDs and daytime running lights. As with the coupe version, the Spyder features the new 5.2L V10 producing 552 bhp and 398 lb-ft torque, and the suspension and e-gear transmission upgrades carry over as well. With the reduced weight and added power, the Spyder now reaches 100 km/h in four seconds flat and tops out just over 320 kph.

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News: Kia kaha- Kia maintains strong sales figures

kia-

Kia Motors has experienced strong sales growth in 2008, even as some of the world’s biggest motoring names are buffeted by huge losses.

Figures just released show that Kia has increased its global sales for the first ten months of 2008 by 12.7%, to reach a total of 1,172,958 by the end of October. Strong sales in emerging markets like China and also its domestic market in Korea have more than offset dips in crisis-hit US and European countries. Sales in China, where Kia opened its second factory last year, are ahead by 36.8% and at home sales are up 33.9%. In markets outside of the US and Europe the increase is 15.2%.

What’s more, Kia Motors has returned to profitability, moving back into the black this year, following heavy investments in new production facilities around the world recently that had put its finances under pressure.

Kia has ceveloped a range of new models to be introduced onto the international stage soon, including the all-new Soul city car and the new Cerato sedan.

“When you look at what is happening around the world, Kia is in a strong position going forward, which has to be a comforting thought for our customers — even though results are likely to be weaker over the next few months,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

Mr McDonald says the success enjoyed by Kia has come at a time of reduced new model activity in 2008, when the company had few new offerings to boost the market. Next year marks the start of a new model blitz.
Currently, Kia’s best selling model in overseas markets to date this year has been the C-segment Cerato with 166,688 units sold. It is followed closely by the B-segment Rio at 133,864 units and the C-segment cee’d at 128,672 units. Kia’s Sportage compact SUV and the A-segment Picanto continue to perform well with 122,330 and 81,136 units sold, respectively. 580,846 passenger cars have been sold so far in 2008, representing a 19.0% year-on-year increase, and representing almost 50% of sales.

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News: Porsche Cayenne goes diesel

Porsche Cayenne diesel fq

From February 2009, Porsche will offer the European market a Cayenne with a diesel engine and thus extend its range of engines for the four door, all-wheel drive car further, once again. This decision was taken in response to changed legal regulations especially in European markets, resulting in tax incentives for vehicles with diesel engines. Furthermore, the Porsche stake in Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of modern diesel engines for passenger cars, has opened up new opportunities to utilise sporty compression-ignition technology.

Porsche will equip the Cayenne with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine with 240 bhp (176 kW) supplied by Audi. The average consumption of the Cayenne Diesel is (9.3 litres/100 km) combined, with emissions of 244 g/km CO2.

In response to customer demand, the new Cayenne model will initially be offered in Europe. Preparations for market introduction in other countries are underway.

There are no visual indicators to distinguish the diesel from the gas-powered base Cayenne. Only under the hood, where the engine cover is emblazoned with “3.0 V6 Turbo Diesel Injection” is the branding different.

Porsche is confident that it will maintain the long term market success of the Cayenne series with the low-consumption V6 turbo diesel. In the last financial year 2007/08, 45,478 units of this series (which currently incorporates five different models) were sold – more than ever before in a financial year.

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News: Nissan drops launch control for GT-R

Nissan GT-R fq

Those about to buy a new Nissan GT-R won’t have to worry about voiding their warranties if they use Launch Control – for the 2010 model year, the car won’t come with the feature. A car news source is quoting a Nissan executive as saying “It’s gone. We just don’t want to deal with the warranty nightmare anymore. It’ll make the 2009 GT-R really special. It’ll be the only R35 with launch control.”

There have been numerous cases where Nissan GT-R owners have brought their cars back to the dealership with transmission trouble only to be told their warranties won’t cover it. It turns out that disabling the car’s VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) too often, in order to use the Launch Control function, meant Nissan wasn’t covering the repairs. The cost to fix/replace the transmission is a whopping $35,000 NZ, so you can imagine owners were seeing red. The GT-R owner’s manual clearly states that damage to the transmission is not covered if it is proven to be the result of using Launch Control with the VDC turned off. In fact, the manual states that the only reason you should turn off VDC is to “rock” the vehicle when stuck in mud or snow.

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Blogs: I’ll save you Caterham

English sports car maker Caterham announced this week that it is making an entire new model. So what? I hear you say. Well Caterham is a very interesting car company; it only has one vehicle the Caterham 7 a hand-me-down model from Lotus cars. Now, in a marketing gimmick first named ‘Project Splitwheel’, Caterham is opening up its design and development program to the public via the internet using crowd sourcing techniques. This will enable car enthusiasts to give their input into the new model for the big decisions like engine capacity right down to the finer details like the new models name. Now this crowd sourcing idea sounds pretty cool, but it didn’t work out that well for crap Hollywood action movie Snakes on a Plane, did it?. So Caterham is clearly creatively challenged and has sent out a post-modern distress call, one that I shall answer.

I’ll leave the tough mechanical decisions to Caterham and those taking project Splitwheel seriously. My suggestions for the vehicle will be of a more important and functional nature, these shall include:

* Paua shell detailing — all over the dash, inserts in the doors and naturally the ashtray.

* Automated passenger seat restraint straps, for passengers who feel it’s acceptable to change the radio station or turn off traction control (as a joke).

* Cup Holders in 4 different sizes to take Red Bull cans up to Powerade bottles.

* A detachable baseball bat rear spoiler, (that generates beat-downforce) for road-rage or counter road-rage applications.

* Air horns that can play the Dukes of Hazard riff, Mr Whippy tune and can be owner programmed for any future annoying jingles.

* Torturous anti-theft measures that automatically lock the thief inside the vehicle and play Julio Iglesias on the stereo at full whack.

* A shotgun-call sensor, that can hear the call from 50meters away and give a fair verdict on who yelled it first, this will avoid passenger arguments, and maintain a harmonious driving experience

* Model name suggestion: The Caterham iRule, (Sports variant: Caterham iRuleZ)

That’s just a taster, once the execs at Caterham receive my full brief they will probably fly me to the UK, and give me a high-level position on the design team. That will sadly mark the end of this blog, have to wait and see.If you want to help Caterham too, click the link below and visit the Splitwheel website. But don’t steal my ideas.

www.splitwheel.com

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