Just last year, I had the opportunity to review the then-brand-new Renault Koleos. I found it a competent attempt by Renault to corner some SUV market share in the country. Now, with the Koleos being given a mild facelift, I had the opportunity for a second bite at the cherry, to discover whether it still is worth a look in 2021.


From the outset, one thing is clear of the Koleos: it looks like a giant Megane. This has been true of the car since launch, and hasn’t changed following its visual tweaks. 

I will admit that, in my initial review, I was not the biggest fan of the styling. However, the more Koleos’ I noticed on the road, the more I warmed up to its looks. Taking inspiration from its smaller sibling, the Koleos is an eye-catcher with its C-styled LED DRLs upfront, and distinctive Renault face. There are touches of chrome around the windows and door handles that enhance the car’s side profile, and lead to the rear, where there are striking LED tail lights that run the car’s width. The Koleos rides on redesigned 18” alloys which work well with the overall look. In a sea of midsize SUVs, my sultry Cosmos Blue test car begged for more than a lingering glance.


The French sure appreciate the importance of tactile feedback. Most touchpoints within the cabin are made of soft-touch and high-quality materials. This creates an overall feeling of luxury and premium craftsmanship. I have been in vehicles let down by scratchy plastics or odd choices of materials, and I am glad to say the Koleos is not one of them. The design is minimalistic, with the dashboard being dominated by a portrait-oriented 8.7” touchscreen and infotainment system that comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.  

Easily the highlight of the cabin is the passenger space. Head and legroom are among the best in class, both front and rear. The leather seats are well-padded and accommodated my large frame quite well. In addition, rear doors that open wide may seem like a menial point to bring up, but anyone who has had to load a car seat into a car will appreciate the extra ingress space. The Koleos is a comfortable five-seater with plenty of load space and legroom. Load space of 579 litres can be increased to 1,795 litres by folding the 60/40 split rear seats.


For the South African market, the Koleos offers a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol unit (the same engine that powers the Nissan X-Trail) that delivers 126 kW and 233 Nm. Transmission choice is limited to a Continuously Variable transmission (CVT). Renault claims that this union will see zero to 100km/h figures of 9.8 seconds, and a claimed 8.3l/100 km consumption rating.

The Koleos may not be the fastest car on the road, but it’s perfect for the average daily commute, or weekend getaway with the family. The only downside is the CVT, which tends to ‘rubber band’ when you have the accelerator pedal pressed to the floor. This is a common problem with CVTs and one that no manufacturer has been able to solve. The only solution is to adjust your driving style, which can be challenging when trying to overtake slower traffic.

While the Koleos does not have the athleticism of a sporty SUV, it is surprisingly nimble for its size, with light and direct steering and negligible body roll. The Koleos rides perfectly well on all rough road surfaces. 


The Koleos finds itself in a highly competitive market segment, but given its excellent value proposition there is little doubt that it will continue to compete well. There is no ignoring those fetching looks and that outstanding build quality, even if the drivetrain with its CVT remains the weak link in what is otherwise a solid package.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © RENAULT 




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