Seems that the French car maker Renault is going on in full swing for its Indian operations. No sooner had we unveiled their plans of bringing in the Renault Duster as also the Renault Fluence to the Indian market, their plans for their third launch have also broken cover. The third launch would be the crossover, the Renault Koleos. The Renault Koleos in India would the off roader which would take on the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Captiva and also the Skoda Yeti. Whichever market it is, the trend is to start with an affluent saloon, then go for a SUV and finally a volume generating hatchback. Renault started on the wrong foot with a projected not so costly saloon but which ended up as costly affair. Since Renault are ready to look past that debacle, it wouldn’t hurt to appreciate the company’s efforts.
To begin with, the Renault Koleos in India would be based on the same platform as the Nissan X-trail as also the upcoming Renault Fluence. The looks of this so called SUV would be on the same lines as the Porsche cars. Sharp looking nose coupled with a slot provided for the Renault badge is something which not many designers think of. The head lamp design though is a bit quirky and as are the air intakes. In a very circular insert lies the deeply embedded fog lamps. The aluminum skid plate covering the front bumper is made of high quality material. Unlike other SUVs, this one doesn’t have a sloping bonnet. Wonder where pedestrian safety went to? The wing mirrors are body colored and there are silver roof rails adorning the roof. The 16 inch alloy wheels don’t boast of any significant design which would turn head neither do the tail lamps. In profile actually this SUV looks very much like the Chevy Captiva. The rear skid plates also mirror the front ones. The slopping roof line for the rear windscreen glass gets a single wiper for company.
Moving onto the interiors, they look similar to the Fluence. Though the upper part of the dash feels a bit plasticky, it is well put together. Like the Ford Fiesta, the AC vents with chrome surrounds close fully and this would help the Koleos to cope up with the Indian weather well. The 3 spoke steering wheel has got scroll controls on it which handle the music system and also the cruise control system. It is said that the Indian spec would get Bluetooth enabled audio system with additional controls on the steering wheel. The instrument cluster seems a bit boring to look at though. The steering is tilt adjustable as also for rake and reach. Due to this very same nature, entry into the front seats isn’t restricted and would fit most sizes. The rear seats have enough leg and head room to cater to most sizes. Moreover, the very fact that there is an electrically releasable split tail gate for the 440 liters boot space implies the usability of the Koleos as a day to day transport vehicle. There are many creature comforts inside the cabin with climate control, navigation system, front and rear parking sensors as also a 8 speaker music system with AUX and USB input taking center stage. There are many storage spaces as also cup holders. The design of the cup holders however does remind one of the Renault Logan in India. The quality of materials used however cannot be doubted even though this smart SUV is made in Korea. Yes, this vehicle is made in Korea to keep the costs down however don’t expect Korean cheapness in the use of materials. They are made to Renault’s strict quality specifications.
Since the Renault Koleos in India would essentially be the same vehicle which is made for the European market, it is highly likely that it would have the same suspension setup as in Europe. The ground clearance is generous at 207 mm and the suspension setup is on the softer side. This would translate into the Renault Koleos being more reluctant to turn into corners and even if it does, would induce noticeable body roll. Steering feel is also said to be of the vague nature with it being ultra light on city speeds and not weighing up sufficiently for some highway action. NVH is also said to be on
the higher side and the Chevy Captiva would easily win this bout if the NVH comes into play. However the thing of noticeable concern is that the Renault Koleos would have a velvety ride quality. Be it whichever speed, the car is said to remain perfectly stable and also devour potholes the way a glutton would eat cheese balls. This car comes in 4×4 configuration and this makes it an off roader. However like the Honda CR-V, even this one has on demand 4 wheel drive which means that this vehicle is essentially a front wheel drive car but the 4×4 option kicks in when it detects wheel slippage. Like in the Skoda Yeti, there is also a hill ascent and descent control switch which when activated allows the car to negotiate ascents or descents without the driver using the accelerator or the brakes. The 4×4 part has been designed by Nissan since they have more experience than the Renault in this field. Chances are that Renault would also be providing a 2 wheel drive option only for the Koleos and this for those people who wouldn’t be using the 4×4 option much. Cost effective proposition then.
Coming to the engine part, the Renault Koleos in India would sport two engine options. One diesel and one petrol. Our sources however are skeptical of the petrol motor making it to India. If its shared with the Fluence then there are chances that it would make it into India. It is a 2.5 liter petrol motor and which is supposed to make 170 Bhp of power and 226 Nm of torque. It will get a 6 speed manual as also an auto transmission. The other and the most important engine for the Indian market would be the 2.0 liter diesel engine which is also present in the Indian Nissan X-Trail. This engine would be making 175 Bhp of power and a good 340 Nm of torque. It will also get the same transmission options as the petrol variant. The Renault crossover is no slouch when it comes to the performance stakes and it will match the Skoda Yeti’s performance if not better. The gearbox is said to be rubbery in its operation. Top speed would be restricted to just above 200 kmph.
Safety features would be taken care of with 6 airbags, ABS, EBD and also tyre pressure monitoring system, reverse parking sensors and finally collapsible steering column. The fuel efficiency is something which Renault would have to get right and if the fuel efficiency of the Nissan X-Trail is anything to go by, then the Koleos would be a sure shot winner for Renault in India.
However all would depend on the brand image that Renault manages to build for itself in India. For this very reason, the company has decided to debut with the Fluence saloon. The Renault Koleos would be available in only two trim levels and it is hoped that Renault would price this SUV in the correct price bracket. The expected Renault Koleos price in India would hover between the Rs 16-18 lakhs mark. If this is the case, then Renault would definitely have their hands full with too many of the wealthy boffins going in for this SUV.