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Old 22nd April 2014, 18:38   #1
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Default Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

The Renault Koleos was relaunched recently in a range of three different variants.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8203.jpg

What I like
  • Excellent mile eating capabilities over rough roads
  • Accurate steering
  • Comfortable Ride
  • Lusty powerful engine on boost
  • The right size for urban driving conditions

What I don't
  • Slow gearbox + turbo lag = lethargy
  • Rear seat space is very limited
  • Dated styling and architecture for the price
  • Interior finish does not match premium badge rivals at similar price point
  • Low Brand value within the segment

Last edited by GTO : 21st May 2014 at 16:37.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 18:55   #2
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Default re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

The Renault Koleos has been on sale since 2007 globally. It started out as the Samsung QM7 and shared its underpinnings with the Nissan Xtrail C-platform. The Koleos was actually displayed as a concept back in 2000 and released in the European market, much after the Korean launch in 2007. If one recalls the era when it was introduced, it was around the time of the Hyundai Tucson. That was the first thing that struck me with the styling, the upright stance and the gradual curves had overtones of the Tucson.

In Europe, it was a late entrant to the segment, its conservative styling failed to attract many buyers. As part of a major cost cutting exercise, Renault decided to focus only on profitable models and the Koleos was withdrawn from Europe in 2010. Since then, its success has been limited to South Korea and Russia. The Koleos was restyled in 2011 and launched in India. Its high pricing and strong competition meant that sales have been extremely limited. After 3 years, Renault have once again done a minor front end restyle. This time, they have taken the opportunity to upgrade the 150PS engine to 173PS. The original engine is retained for the new 4X2 variant in order to attract a lower price point, A manual box is available with the two engines. The following are the variants on offer.

150dCi MT 4X2 costing Rs 22 Lakhs ex showroom Delhi
173dCi MT 4X4 costing Rs 25 Lakhs ex showroom Delhi
173dCi AT 4X4 costing Rs 26 Lakhs ex showroom Delhi

The equipment levels of the 173dCi over the 150dCI are:
  • Four wheel drive
  • Bose 5 speaker system + sub + amp (it gets an Arkamys 4 speaker instead)
  • ESP
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Side, Rear, Curtain airbags
  • Electric seat adjustment
  • Leather interiors (black fabric instead)
  • Single tone alloys

Considering its price segment, the Koleos is up against some pretty tough competition. On one side, you have the tough truck based SUV's like the Toyota Fortuner (Rs 21.8L-Rs 23L), Pajero Sport (23.5 lakh), the Santa Fe (25 - 28 Lakh) and at the lower end, you have the very capable Skoda Yeti (15.1 - Rs 18.8 Lakh). Also peppered in are the brand entrants like the BMW X1 (31- 36 Lakh) and the Audi Q3 (24 - 36 Lakh). As sales go, we know the Fortuner sells like hot cakes due to its strong utilitarian appeal and brand. We also see that the entry level Q3 S has a strong order book.

Compared to its modern Korean counterparts, it lacks the striking fluidic language, its compact dimensions means that it lacks the brute presence.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8204.jpg

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8217.jpg

The front and rear overhangs are short, giving it quite good approach angles, when encountering ruts and steep banks. The short wheelbase is evident by the shape of the rear door.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8229.jpg

The utilitarian aspect of the Koleos is highlighted by the two piece tailgate.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8224.jpg

New wheel design shod on 225/60 R17 Kumho Solus M+S.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8118.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 21st May 2014 at 13:18.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 19:45   #3
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Default re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

Behind the wheel, the basic controls are simple and logical. It was very easy to get a comfortable driving position. This is in reality, a Nissan Xtrail with some French flair added in. The electric seats make it very easy to get a comfortable driving position. Both my 5'6" co-driver and my 6 feet frame had no problem at all in finding an optimum driving position.

From the driver's seat, you enjoy excellent visibility and one can place all four corners easily. I can vouch for this when I had to extract the car from a cramped car park prior to flag off. While I had no issues with the basic ergonomics, it is quite clear that the dashboard design is dating badly. While the top half of the dashboard is uncluttered, the bottom half is rather cluttered with an excess of switches. The circular vents do make things a little funky.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8270.jpg

At 25+ lakhs, expectations are high, especially with competition from Audi and BMW entry level models in this segment. While the fit and finish is pretty good, the quality of materials are very similar to what one would find in a Hyundai Verna or Elantra. At this price point, one is looking for something special and in this area, the Koleos sadly does not match up. The top part of the dashboard is softly padded, but the bottom part has a lot of hard plastic which looks downmarket. The plastic wood inlay on the console, coupled with the faux carbon fibre console surround, is a bit of a mismatch.

The central console is rather busy, although the climate control is easy to use for basic functions. One has 10+ buttons to contend with to finetune adjustments. Travelling in 37 degree C, the climate control was only effective at its lowest setting. We tried to keep it at an ambient 24, but it was not effective. The steering wheel is nicely shaped and circumference thickness is shaped for the 10 to 3 position. Renault's complex cruise control switches are located on the spokes.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8302.jpg

The display on top of the console shows what music is playing, source of the music, which phone is connected, time and outside temperature.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8298.jpg

Located below the climate control switches is the much vaunted Bose 5 speaker stereo. The sound was quite tight if a little bass oriented, and it was excellent when playing some Sting numbers. Some people might buy this car for the system alone! Again, the controls are poorly executed and one needs to be stationary to make the required adjustments. Like all Renault cars, the essential volume and basic selection controls are next to the steering column.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8305.jpg

Right at the bottom of the console are a power outlet and Start / Stop button (which is thankfully on the driver's side). In between these are the hill descent control and 2wd/4wd mode switch. This has three positions, Eco 2WD which limits drive to the front wheels only, Auto which engages the rear wheels when slip is detected and permanent 4WD where the differential is locked. The keycard slot is under these controls if you decide to use it.

On the driver's side are the controls for dashboard lighting, headlight leveling, stability control and parking sensors.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8178.jpg

Both the front driver and passenger had more than sufficient leg room. The pedal spacing as also the dead pedal are well thought out. The instruments are very simple but clear. It only comprises of the tachometer, the speedometer, fuel and temp gauge.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8280.jpg

The MID is very simple and contains the following: Fuel consumption rate, Overall fuel consumption, Range, Fuel used, Distance covered and Service time.

Mirror controls are simple - just one switch.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8275.jpg

Stowage is pretty good. The glove compartment is deep. This is complemented with a compartment in the driver's armrest with a USB port and power unit.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8310.jpg

The door pockets are deep, albeit limited. They can hold a bottle of water and not much else.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8267.jpg

Moving to the rear seat and the value proposition get questionable. The rear seats have very limited leg room.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8327.jpg

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8197.jpg

The picnic trays are very small, might be okay for playing with a smartphone, but a laptop will be too big for them.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8177.jpg

Boot space is quite generous. The twin tailgate makes loading easy.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8227.jpg

Overall, the driving environment is comfortable and pleasant. However, considering the price segment it competes within, it will disappoint when compared to an Audi Q3 or BMW X1. Even the Skoda Yeti (from a segment below) is far better in terms of design and finish. Renault have tried to compensate by adding more equipment like the Bose Stereo & electric seats.

Last edited by GTO : 21st May 2014 at 15:21.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 19:56   #4
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Default re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

The Koleos is powered by the 2.0 dCi engine. It comes in two variants, the 150 PS available in the 4X2 version and the 173 PS version available in the 4X4.

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8315.jpg

Start the engine and there is a muted clatter. The engine, although not obtrusive, will always let you know that it is working for you. The engine is quite rev happy for a diesel and that does help in overcome turbo-lag which is more than evident below 2000 rpm. Although there is 173 PS on tap, we had big problems trying to find the power. A lot of it was to do with the slow transmission.

The Koleos comes with a 6 speed box in its top version which is what we drove. Driving out of Ooty, there were some hilly inclines. Floor the pedal, there is a pause to overcome the turbo-lag followed by another pause for the AT to react and pass the power on. It was quite frustrating. As we followed the pilot car out of Ooty, various buses and lorries came in between us. Overtaking was impossible as the turbo-lag + AT would not allow us to exploit any opportunity. In fact, we found the lesser powered Fluences in the convey overtaking us.

The manual tiptronic mode (no paddle shifts) helped a little, but it was not enough. Once traffic cleared and we descended the Segur ghats, things became less tedious and we could keep the engine speed at partial boost.

Going down the ghats, the chassis dynamics stood out. It was extremely agile and felt like a hatchback! The steering turn-in was brilliant around the 36 hairpin bends and the car remained stable & unstoppable. The newly introduced ESP could be partially the reason, but give it bumpy corners and coarse roads, it was unflappable. However, the tyres were struggling under enthusiastic cornering. We were not even trying too hard, yet those Kumhos were smoking. As I later realised, they were mud+snow tyres.

On the forestry roads, things got frustrating since we had to keep slowing for speed bumps and getting back up to speed. The AT and peaky power delivery again was the culprit. I noticed my co-driver was spending more time in manual mode and toggling the gear shift. It made us wonder whether the automatic box was actually pointless. The only other solution would be to exploit the excellent ride and crash through speed bumps....but we needed to preserve the car and wildlife.

Out of the forest roads, we picked up speed and the Koleos' merits began to outshine its obvious shortcomings. It was an excellent cruiser on Karnataka rural roads. Overtaking lorries on narrow roads was a breeze since, even if the right wheels were slightly on the edge of the road, it had enough articulation and ground clearance to power through. The brakes were well weighted and had excellent feel. We were able to make use of the power easily, the engine likes to rev and the Automatic isn't too bad during midrange acceleration at 60 km/h onward.

We also tried a little bit of off-roading.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8253.jpg

The Koleos provides good approach and exit angles.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8254.jpg

Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8241.jpg

However, as evident in the video, the drivetrain takes time to react and decide where to direct power.




Concluding, the Koleos is a great rural road muncher. Driven on city or demanding roads, the experience was spoilt by the slow AT and turbo-lag. Things could be much better with a manual box, although I cannot comment until I sample one.

Disclaimer : Renault invited Team-BHP for the Koleos test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by noopster : 21st May 2014 at 20:06.
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Old 22nd April 2014, 20:02   #5
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Default re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

If you are carrying long loads, note that the top half of the tailgate does not lock.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8228.jpg

Storage compartments in the rear passenger footwell. Even the eagle eyed EC checkpoints never noticed it, not that one could carry much.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8324.jpg

Gappy tailgate.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8319.jpg

Bose labels.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8221.jpg

Parking Sensors limited to the rear only. Other cars in its segment have parking sensors all around.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8193.jpg

Rear passengers get an additional blower but no power points.
Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift-dsc_8268.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 21st May 2014 at 16:33.
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Old 21st May 2014, 16:39   #6
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd May 2014, 13:31   #7
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
The Koleos is powered by the 2.0 dCi engine. It comes in two variants, the 150 PS available in the 4X2 version and the 173 PS version available in the 4X4.

Although there is 173 PS on tap, we had big problems trying to find the power. A lot of it was to do with the slow transmission.

The Koleos comes with a 6 speed box in its top version which is what we drove. Driving out of Ooty, there were some hilly inclines. Floor the pedal, there is a pause to overcome the turbo-lag followed by another pause for the AT to react and pass the power on. It was quite frustrating. As we followed the pilot car out of Ooty, various buses and lorries came in between us. Overtaking was impossible as the turbo-lag + AT would not allow us to exploit any opportunity. In fact, we found the lesser powered Fluences in the convey overtaking us.

The manual tiptronic mode (no paddle shifts) helped a little, but it was not enough. Once traffic cleared and we descended the Segur ghats, things became less tedious and we could keep the engine speed at partial boost.

On the forestry roads, things got frustrating since we had to keep slowing for speed bumps and getting back up to speed. The AT and peaky power delivery again was the culprit. I noticed my co-driver was spending more time in manual mode and toggling the gear shift. It made us wonder whether the automatic box was actually pointless. The only other solution would be to exploit the excellent ride and crash through speed bumps....but we needed to preserve the car and wildlife.

Concluding, the Koleos is a great rural road muncher. Driven on city or demanding roads, the experience was spoilt by the slow AT and turbo-lag. Things could be much better with a manual box, although I cannot comment until I sample one.
It is really shocking how Renault have introduces a vehicle with such Turbo Lag & a slow gearbox.
Is the gearbox slow in comparison to a DCT or is it really dumb witted in a class of its own? Does the torque convertor help mask the turbo lag?

Considering that almost every review is critical of these shortcomings, do you feel there is any chance for corrective action from Renault? Did they take your feedback after the event?

Thanks.
Sridhar
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Old 22nd May 2014, 13:46   #8
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

Is the automatic a CVT? Renault/Nissan are guilty of messing up many a vehicle with their painful preoccupation with CVTs. They come with good engines that are let down by the whiny CVTs that take you back to Kinetic Honda days.
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Old 22nd May 2014, 14:02   #9
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

For 24-26 lacs plus this is not got to fly off the shelves, those diamond cut alloys make it look similar to the terrano, the Koloes needs a complete makeover. But great review otherwise of the car..
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Old 22nd May 2014, 15:19   #10
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

Thanks Ajmat for a nice crisp review of the Koleos !

IMO this car will definitely not fly off the shelves at the pricing point at which it has been launched. Also a lack of a third row of seats which is available on the Fortuner could turn customers away. They could have priced this price in the Yeti Elegance 4X4 territory. That sub 20 lakh ex-showroom price could have got them some sales there.
Other than the slow transmission and the turbo lag, another major issue for it would be the rear seat legroom. The MID screen in the central console also looks dated.

This might go down as another quirky european design which failed to excite the Indian customer in terms of space and price !
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Old 24th May 2014, 00:49   #11
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Default Re: Test Drive: 2014 Renault Koleos Facelift

I can see Honda CRV grinning... It now looks a very very attractive proposition
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