Renault Koleos 'sophisticated, purposeful and comfortable'
Think large SUV and Renault doesn't immediately spring to mind. Until now, that is.
The French manufacturer has just launched its first big 4x4 in the UK, the Koleos.
It's the big brother to the already-successful Kadjar and Captur crossovers and is the pinnacle of the brand's SUV series.
An impressive beast it is, too, not just as a car in its own right, but also as a statement of intent that Renault has staked a claim in this increasingly competitive - and important - segment.
With competitors including the new Skoda Kodiaq and newly revamped Nissan X-Trail, Renault needs to be at the top of its game.
Luckily, this is exactly the case, with the Koleos satisfying on many fronts, not least looks, technology and driveability.
There's no seven-seat model, but apart from that the Koleos is a premium 4x4 through and through.
On the outside, it looks purposeful yet sophisticated, with Renault's signature C-shaped LED daytime running lights (DRLs) at the front and the always-illuminated horizontal DRLs to the rear. There's a Land Rover feel to its side air intakes and to the overall solid stance on the road.
My review car, courtesy of Charles Hurst Renault in Belfast (www.charleshurstgroup.co.uk/renault) was in majestic Admiral Blue and looked every inch a premium SUV.
It's not just a pretty boy, though, with Renault's competent ALL MODE 4x4-i four-wheel drive technology, and 210mm of ground clearance giving you plenty of pulling power should you ever find yourself in rough terrain (or indeed, on a snowy B-road).
It has a kerb weight of 1,650kg and a towing capability of 2,000kg (braked) and 750kg (unbraked).
Inside you'll find a comfortable, quality, roomy cabin that will carry five tall adults in comfort, with a glorious - and standard - panoramic roof flooding the cabin with light. Boot space is excellent: 458-litres, expanding to 1,690-litres with rear seats down, which can be done via a one-touch button.
There is a six-version line-up based on two diesel engines and two trim levels - Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav, both of which offer excellent levels of kit and refinement. Prices start from £27,500.
The dCi 130 engine is available on both trim levels with a six-speed manual transmission and two-wheel drive.
The more powerful dCi 175 engine is available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed Auto X-Tronic transmission, both with ALL-MODE 4x4-i four-wheel drive.
My Signature 175 Auto model was refined and handled well both on the motorway and across the hills of Co Antrim. The ride is firm but supple - just the way I like it.
City driving is similarly rewarding: smooth and relaxing, even when traffic is bumper to bumper.
Being stuck in traffic is a tad less painful when you've a range of DAB stations to listen to and your passengers can avail of the standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
In fact, the Koleos is packed with kit and driver assists including an advanced emergency braking system and over-speed prevention with traffic sign recognition.
A rear parking camera with front and rear parking sensors is standard, as well as an electrochrome rear mirror that auto-dims dazzling lights.
Four USB and two AUX ports feature on both models. The Dynamic S Nav features an Arkamys 3D Sound 4x35W DAB radio with seven-inch touchscreen R-LINK2 multimedia system, while the Signature Nav gets a Bose sound system and 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen.
The Koleos is an assured play from Renault, a company currently serving up a great suite of products.
No car is perfect, but the Koleos is sophisticated, purposeful, comfortable, versatile and easy to drive.
What more can you ask than that?
n The Renault Koleos is available now from Charles Hurst Renault and other Renault dealers