Renault banking on its five-seat plan for €34,490 Koleos SUV ahead of July reg
First drive in Helsinki: Renault Koleos
Renault could, some would say should, have made their new Koleos large 5-seater SUV a good deal less expensive (it starts from €34,490) by cutting spec a little and adding a petrol engine.
They could also have made it a pricier 7-seater and picked up on strong demand for the extra accommodation.
But they stuck with making it a large and comfortable motor with loads of room for five. Call it a 'high five' plan.
There are several reasons for it, from the impact on its design to the commercial imperative of not cannibalising the smaller Kadjar SUV on price/space, to leaving its Alliance stablemate Nissan X-Trail alone to attract 7-seater buyers.
So the Koleos starts life (it gets to Ireland for the July-reg period) with drawbacks and benefits. It is pricey but extensively equipped and generously roomy for five, but can't take seven, as some of the names it mentions as rivals, can.
Technically speaking, some of the perceived competitors are not directly comparable, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, KIA Sorento (7-seaters). They even mention the Audi Q5 (I don't think so). Others include less expensive models such as the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Ateca, VW Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai and 5-seater versions of the X-TRAIL.
I'd also see it being more like the five-seater Honda CR-V but not, despite Renault saying so, the madly overpriced Ford Edge.
On top of all that, they also expect people who no longer want a large-family/fleet saloon (Passat, Avensis) to be interested in a five-seater Crossover.
There is no denying this is a big motor that has a roomy semi-plush cabin - it's a really nicely judged interior. We had loads of room front and back - I especially noticed the amount of elbow room - and there was a fine boot. Built in South Korea and tuned for Europe, it felt sturdy, and that's echoed in strong design lines and a solid drive.
With either a 1.6 (130bhp, from €34,490) or 2-litre diesel (175bhp, €40,490) under the bonnet, it wasn't tested much given Finland's low and strictly enforced speed limits. Off-road it showed decent prowess (ground clearance of 210mm).
On road it was quiet, solid and easy to live with. I think its big selling point is what I'd describe as its strong comfort.
Because they've forgone the usual minimalist entry-level charade, they have just two trim levels.
Here's a flavour of the equipment. Dynamique S Nav includes cruise control, speed limiter, 7in touchscreen R-LINK2 multimedia system (sat nav, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay), 18in alloys, electric/adjustable/heated/folding door mirrors, roof bars, six airbags, ISOFIX on outer rear seats, panoramic sunroof, part-black leather upholstery, driver assistance systems, Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), Blind Spot/Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, rear parking camera, front/ rear parking sensors, cup holders that can heat/cool drinks, auto dual-zone climate control, auto lights/ wipers, four USB and two AUX ports.
Signature Nav adds 19in alloys, full black leather upholstery, heated front seats, 8.7in touchscreen, auto tailgate.
Among the line-ups are a 1.6-litre dCi 130hp diesel (from €34,490) 6spd manual in two-wheel drive and a 2-litre dCi 175hp (€40,490) with either 6spd manual or 7spd Auto X-Tronic transmission with 4WD.
Road tax ranges from €270 (1.6-litre and main selling engine) and from €390 for the 2-litre.
Now let's see how that 'high-five' Koleos strategy works with, and for, buyers.