What are the essentials of a good drive? Lets see, first of all it’s the roads, they should be good, with sparse traffic, scenic with good music in the background and of course a good set of wheels. And that’s pretty much how the new Renault Koleos drive turned out to be. Renaults latest SUV is made to take the rough with the smooth and that’s exactly how the route from Bangalore to Kabini was.
Coming back to the Koleos, this smart looking SUV is Renault’s third baby if you consider the recently disowned Logan. With the launch of the Fluence just a few months ago, Renault is definitely on a resurgence spree in India. With the Koleos, Renault realized that the Premium SUV market is definitely one of the fastest growing markets here in India and if they had to make an impact on Indian customers this was a great segment to begin with.
Now the Koleos isn’t an all new car. It’s been around in the international markets since 2008. However the car that you see in the pictures is the updated 2012 model. It’s a good thing that we get the new car since the predecessor wasn’t too much too look at. The new car though while not being the most handsome SUV, isn’t too bad to look at. The dimensions are just right and the Koleos is big enough to make its presence felt and at the same time compact enough to not feel cumbersome driving around town. The big grille along with upswept head lights looks like the Koleos has got just the right dose of botox. The skid plates at the front and rear add a touch of butch-ness to the otherwise pretty conservative stance of the Koleos.
Open the door and the first thing that strikes you is “Bose” written on the door sill. While that would want you to believe that there is a Bose system in the car, but we couldn’t fathom why would you want the audio systems name on the door sills and not to mention on the front fender as well. But a quick chat with Marc Nassif, MD-Renault India led us to believe that this is indeed the Renault Koleos Bose edition.
Slip into the driver’s seat you find yourself in a typical high perched driving position which is common is SUV’s. The steering wheel feels great and quality of materials is brilliant. We specially loved the soft touch dashboard materials and the fake carbon fibre panels. It’s quite roomy at the back as well, but considering the Koleos is a five seater and not a seven, legroom is pretty average at best. The seat back tables which otherwise serve well, make for a pretty hard surface resting against the rear passengers knee in case the driver/co-driver seat is slid all the way to the back. As far as luxury and flexibility is concerned, the Koleos has it covered. Dual zone a/c, leather all over, rear a/c vent with separate blowers, 6-way power adjustable driver seat, parking sensors and then some. But the best bit is the Bose audio system. The 8-speaker will simply blow your socks off. The high fidelity system reproduces some amazing acoustics no matter what song you play. The best in-car entertainment system in its segment for sure.
Good music in the background and a brilliant blacktop beneath us, the Koleos was being pushed petty hard but it was upto the task. With 150 PS and 320 Nm from the 2.0 litre dCi oilburner coupled with an all mode 4x4-i system, the Koleos had the grunt and the grip to make it an enjoyable drive, no matter how the conditions were. Even around the corners, the car held up pretty good despite its tall stance.
But the revelation was the ride quality. Throw anything at it, but the Koleos takes everything in its stride with aplomb. The last section of the journey barely had any roads and the Koleos just went through it without any problems or juggling the heavy lunch we had eaten. With a ground clearance of 206 mm and the 4x4 transmission the Koleos should be pretty capable off the road as well, but that we shall only find out once we fully test the vehicle. The only fly in this otherwise pretty good ointment is the gearbox. The 6-speed auto box is a bit slow and left hunting for the right gear whenever you need to shoot past that truck or slow moving rickshaw. A 6-speed manual would definitely make the Koleos an even more entertaining drive.
The Koleos then comes across as a pretty impressive offering from Renault. While it may not spring a surprise in any department, it seems to be quite a sensible product from a sensible manufacturer. For the moment, the Koleos will be available only in one fully loaded variant as Renault wants to showcase its very best. And it is indeed loaded with almost all the creature comfort one could ask for. But is it worth the Rs. 22.99 lakh ex-showroom Delhi price tag especially amongst such established competition? Only a proper road test shall answer that. Keep watching this space for more!