Review: Renault Koleos.

Renault has returned with a larger SUV in Britain. Bonjour, the Koleos, which sounds like a 1990s aftershave and is actually made in South Korea. The model dates from 2007 but never sold well in the UK, where sales ended in 2010, leaving the market to the X Trail from its Alliance partner Nissan plus an array of other handy SUVs.

The Koleos, despite its chrome grin, is a harsh critic when it comes to appraising your driving technique

These rivals still exist plus many new entries, such as the butch Ford Edge and the flash-hit Skoda Kodiaq – also offered with seven seats. More are coming, Vauxhall’s Grandland among them. Renault now has the field well covered with the smaller Captur, the Kadjar, the Scenic and the seven-seater Grand Scenic. Even so, its UK sales in the seven months to August fell eight per cent. World sales are doing better.

Koleos 2 is a roomy five-seater, bigger than the Kadjar, sold here in two trims, each offering a 128bhp, 1.6 diesel or a 173bhp, 2-litre diesel with the option for the 2-litre of 4x4 traction, or automatic gears combined with 4x4. Ergo, you want automatic gears you pay top price.

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Prices start high, Renault reckoning that owners usually order lots of the options it has included in the Koleos. You pay £27,500 for the Dynamique 1.6 but it brings 18-inch wheels, part-leather upholstery, a front-opening glass roof, rear camera, parking monitors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot and lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition with a speed warning and hill start assistance and hands-free keycard, auto sensing lights and wipers.

The Signature 1.6, from £29,600 with manual gears and front-wheel drive, adds 19-inch wheels, a larger, deeper “portrait” screen, power tailgate opening and closing – by key card or waving your foot– and full leather upholstery with heating and power adjustment for the front seats.

The 2-litre 4x4 models cost £30,400 and £32,700 in Dynamique and Signature trim, while with automatic gears added, the prices are £31,900 and £34,200. Usual options include metallic paint (£545), a space saver spare wheel (£120) and, for the Signature, audio upgrades and leather choices.

Basic economy figures are, for the 1.6 engine, 57.6mpg and 128g. The 2-litre manual is rated at 50.4mpg and 148g or 47.9mpg and 156g with the automatic/4x4 drivetrain.

On test here is the topmost Koleos, the Signature with 4x4 and automatic gears – X-Tronic in the Renault dictionary. Admiral blue paint added £550, plus the spare wheel, £600 for a Bose sound system, £400 for silver grey leather, £350 for hands-free parking and a bargain £400 climate pack adding heated rear seats, screen, steering wheel and ventilated front seats. Grand total: £36,610.

Yes, it sounds a lot but it is a well equipped vehicle and compares with its peers with a similar specification.

The Koleos diesel-only offering is out of step with the fear of diesel legislation in the UK market. Petrol engines are available in other countries. Renault says “no plans at the moment” for other engines in the Koleos in Britain.

Koleos shares its platform with various Alliance models, notably the X Trail and Kadjar, and is seen as the flagship model. Styling is robustly curved, with a bulbous face carrying a heavy chrome grin. More shiny work extends along the window line and, for a few feet, along the front wings to the front doors where it greets a black plastic fake vent panel applied to each door.

It’s a large car and so behaves best on bends when driven gently. The 19-inch wheels give a hard ride and on rural roads the suspension is noisy and you feel and hear the rear wheels bobbing. The Koleos’s two-litre diesel is the most powerful in a Renault – supplying 280 lb ft of torque.

At start-up and when pulling there is some diesel chunter – something you’ll maybe get used to. The seven-ratio automatic gearbox works nicely and responds well. I didn’t get near its official combined fuel economy. My regular, mixed routes were scored at 32 to 37 miles a gallon by the trip computer. I was driving briskly but not hard.

The information screen offers analysis of driving patterns. Typically, I got three stars out of five for the use of the accelerator and for anticipation – whatever that is. My final journey was 58.7 miles at an average speed of 34.3mph and recorded 36.7mpg. The CO2 reading was not given. My “global” score was 58/100, with nine miles of zero consumption. I imagine if I had “tried” I may have improved. An eco-coaching link advises owners to keep tyre pressures checked and to use Elf oil. Harrumph.

I’d have liked a turn-wheel scale adjuster for the map rather than having to tap the screen a few times to zoom in or out. Some of its speed limits were years out of date, too.

Verdict: A contender. Some may like a cheaper version.