Renault’s first proper 4x4 is here. After the disappointment of Scenics clad in black 'off-road' plastic, we finally have the Koleos SUV, unveiled today. It's the fruit of a surprisingly mixed relationship: Renault did the design, Nissan developed it and it’ll be built in the Renault Samsung plant in Korea. But despite the complex family tree, it looks pretty slick and compact. But at 4.52m long and 1.85m wide it’s actually bigger than a VW Tiguan (4427mm and 1809mm).
Of course Renault says the Koleos offers genuine off-road ability, but we’re more interested in the practical aspects that we’ll actually use. There’s a split-opening tailgate that can take up to 200kg, and the Laguna Sport Tourer’s ‘Super-fold’ system. At the touch of a button the back seats fold flat giving 1380 litres of space. There’s 450 litres with all five seats in place.
Renault Koleos: the French 4x4
Most of the dashboard parts have been lifted from other Renaults, so the sat-nav, audio controls and air vents will all be familiar to fans of La Regie, as are the engines. At launch, just one 2.0-litre diesel will be available in two states of tune: 148bhp with two- or four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or auto 'box, or with 173bhp, four-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.
How will it drive? The Macpherson struts are combined with the fully independent rear from the Nissan X-Trail to keep it tidy on the road. Venture over the kerb and into the wilds, and you'll appreciate skid plates, 188mm of ground clearance and a four-wheel drive system that can send up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels. It also helps quell understeer and oversteer. Hill Start Assist means you can crawl down inclines at 4mph, while the sat-nav has a compass, altimeter and barometer. Ideal for budding meterologists.
The Koleos will go on sale in July 2008, with prices and final specs being announced nearer launch. We expect the Koleos to start from £18,000.
The Koleos will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on 4 March 2008. CAR Magazine Online will be reporting live from Switzerland - so come back for all the latest news from the show over the next few weeks