Renault’s second oops third product in India happens to be the Renault Koleos. What India gets now is the refreshed version of the Koleos available internationally. A good thing considering that Hyundai still preferred to bring its older generation Santa Fe here. The Logan impressed us with its space quotient and so did the Fluence with its premium feel. Now, if the Koleos would actually be something new or just a reworked thing is what our review here would uncover. We got a Koleos courtesy Renault’s friendly PR person and this is what our wordings for the Renault Koleos in India are.
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It is said that Renault’s Indian arm induced the designers to go in for some minor changes in this car and especially on the front end. The reason is that the earlier Koleos had a face which would have been called plain ugly. Not that the newer iteration had some major changes but it had the thing which one can call as digestible. The grille, bumpers, fenders and the head lamps are the bits which have been revised and the grille is now a conventional 6 sided unit. Additionally, since Indians love chrome, Renault has put in 3 chrome slats as well. A slight pinch in the shape of the bumpers can also be observed. Once again, there are chrome strips lined up here. The satin roof rails also add up to the premium feel. Blinkers outside the rear view mirrors are a given in this segment. Renault have shod the wheels of the Koleos with 225/60 R17 tyres. The alloys were of a certain unique pattern and many would like them. We did. The styling towards the rear is nothing path breaking but it definitely looks stylish in flesh. A single tail pipe and a chunky one at that would break away any notions of having a sporty exhaust note.
Allowing the interiors to looks spacious as also cheerful, Renault has put the black and beige effect to good use. Almost every thing in here gets a chrome accent, correction aluminium accents. The steering wheel is a different unit than the one accorded to the Fluence, however, those who have had driven the Fluence would identify the placement of the controls, especially the steering audio controls. The instruments binnacle seems pretty much ordinary. Renault have used high quality materials for crafting the interiors of the Koleos. That said, the multimedia interface is one which isn’t user friendly and it took us a good half an hour to figure out some details. The storage bin nestled behind the parking brake lever has got both USB and AUX inputs inside it. The dual zone climate control works wonderfully for our climate conditions. The driver gets an electronically controlled seat while the co-passenger has to make do with manual adjustments. The seat at the rear has got good lumbar support but the taller ones would find some knee-room missing. The rear seats also have multiple reclining angles and this makes anyone sitting there very comfortable. Highly recommended for long distance travels. The boot of the Renault Koleos in India is also well designed and the rear seats have a 60:40 split arrangement added to them to aid convenience. Lots of cubby holes in and around the cabin are available, provided one actually looked for them. Surprisingly, a new thing is that Renault has got Bose stickers on the doors (inner portion). Now, this is something which we haven’t seen any manufacturer doing. It may be because of the fact that this car has one of the best original music systems which sound great even at low volumes, not to mention the superb clarity even at high decibels. Maybe Renault earned a good royalty from Bose for this sort of advertising.
Handling and ride quality
The Renault Koleos in India weighs close to 1.7 tonnes. The Koleos gets a 4WD powertrain but this is a shift on the fly unit. Most of the times, the Koleos would see its primary function being satisfied with the front wheel drive only. Proof is that 99 percent of Scorpio buyers rarely take their vehicles out in the rough and these buyers opt for the 4×4 variant. There are 3 modes provided in the central stack and these contain the auto mode, 2WD mode and the 4WD mode. The best choice would be to go for the auto mode wherein if the vehicle’s sensors detect that there is a wheel slippage, then the 4WD mode is activated. However, unlike the European Koleos, the one we have here doesn’t feature the Hill Descent Control system. Typical suspension for European vehicles has been used here and this includes the likes of a MacPherson strut in the front with a multilink setup at the rear. The ride quality is exemplary for an European SUV and moreso in the Indian conditions. Every pothole we encountered on the road was put away with disdain. The body roll for this one was there, however, not in excess. Infact, the benchmark for handling, the Skoda Yeti would have a close competitor in this one. Minimal body roll accompanied by a steering wheel which has got a nice feedback action dialed into it makes the Koleos a delight to pilot in traffic as also on the openways. The ground clearance for the Koleos was a good 206 mm but upsetting the dynamics of the Koleos are its set of wheels. These aren’t the best for cornering and as regards the grip levels, there is a limit to it and one which is achieved very easily. The point is that the Kumho originated rubber try to balance out things in proportions and not excel at a single thing. Looking at the thing, it feels as if they were tuned more for the fuel efficiency bit. The in-cabin noise is almost non-existent and even gunning this SUV revealed a muted noise. Kudos to Renault for this excellent noise damping.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Renault and Nissan share platforms as also engines and drivetrains. It’s a no surprise that the Koleos uses the same engine as the one found in the X-Trail. Why only the engine, Renault also uses the same transmission. This 2.0 liter diesel motor produces 148 Bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque. This has become a standard of sorts for most SUVs in India and every SUV right from the recently launched XUV500 to the Tata Aria uses Aria uses this configuration. This engine and powertrain has proved its might on the Indian soil with reports of X-Trails going strongly even after 2 lakh kms and not even needing an engine overhaul. Though competition like the Santa Fe and Fortuner have more powerful diesel engines, only the Koleos, X-Trail and Santa Fe (now) have automatic transmissions and this is something which the buyers in this category look upto. The 6 speed auto transmission is a slow unit and is best used at leisure. The 0-100 kmph figure though came up in only 12.3 seconds. The Skoda Yeti, Fortuner and of course the Santa Fe post faster times. The top speed of this one was a cool 177 kmph. The engine is a free revving unit, however the turbo boost which start at around 1700 rpm ends at around the 2800 mark. Brakes in this SUV remain a strong point and a slight dab on the pedal is all what is needed to ensure that the SUV steers clear of the obstacle. Brake Assist, EBD, ABS and various other electronic aunties are present in this car. Not only this, this one has a solid reputation as far as crash safety is concerned. It gets 8 airbags and a 5 star Euro NCAP rating. What more could one ask for? Not only this, the ARAI certified fuel efficiency is 13.7 kmpl, which is apparently a conservative thing since we regularly saw 14 plus kms to a liter on the multi information display. Apparently, it seems that the ARAI figure was done in 4 wheel drive mode.
Renault has a total of 5 models in their lineup, out of which they have already launched two this year. The remaining would be launched by next year. The Koleos looks to pave the path for the smaller and much cheaper Duster model. The Koleos has got its own set of strengths with the weakness being minor and something one would learn to live with over the years. Weaknesses like the ease of use of electronic gadgetry and the lazy gearbox will tend to iron out over the months of ownership. However, the strong points are one too many to ignore. These include the likes of seating comfort, features, ride and handling as also fuel efficiency. The diesel is a tad muted as related to the others in its class but it is sufficient enough to keep up with the traffic and also at times, overtake them. The Renault Koleos price in India stands at Rs 22.9 lakhs. This price is ex-show room, Delhi. It is available only in one variant, just like the other Renault products. All Renault needs to do is up the ante as regards with the sales and service centers. The cost of ownership also needs to be explained to the prospective customer since that forms an integral part of any buying process. A proper comparison test would show us how the Koleos stacks up against its competition. In the same vein, a couple of lakhs lower down pricing would have ensured that Renault gets some advantage in this competitive market.