Cars: A debonair Renault Koleos 4WD SUV

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 4, 2018.

The 4WD Koleos has a power tailgate which you can swipe your foot under the rear bumper to open.

The differential lock mode works seamlessly while providing excellent traction while moving on dry mud and sand surfaces.

The showpiece is the large 8.7 inch-link two tablet, portrait-style touchscreen control — easy to use and works very well.

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IT was exactly a year ago when I laid my hands on the Renault Koleos sport utility vehicle (SUV) and it was an invigorating test drive in a good-looking premium SUV. A year later, it is still as gallant; however, the new variant is a four-wheel drive (4WD) with a power tailgate which you can swipe your foot under the rear bumper to open.


Driving it

It was fun spending a few days with this new 4WD Koleos. A grocery trip to the neighbourhood supermarket saw a family of five, about to get into their car a few parking lots away, talking about and admiring the Koleos. The words “beautiful front”, “stylish rear” and “this SUV looks really nice and elegant” were audible and these descriptions will undoubtedly put a smile on the Renault designers’ faces.

On the Karak highway, I took the car to Genting Highlands for a quick two-day family trip. The spacious luggage space (542 litres and 1,690 litres with the rear seats folded down) was exactly what we needed, comfortably fitting our group of five who brought along much luggage. The driver and passengers enjoyed the drive and the ample cabin space.

It was a good ride up to the highlands, and likewise the descent. The auto 4WD mode was a nice feature during the drive, providing top-notch intervention behind the scenes to ensure the car stayed on course whenever I strayed off the roads.

The X-tronic Continuously Variable Transmission gearbox worked very well too, but I could still very much feel a whirring and the typical continuously variable transmission’s “rubber band effect”. Together with the 2.5 QR25 DE engine (170PS) and the auto 4WD mode, the behemoth Renault Koleos SUV makes a pleasant, friendly drive.

I managed to briefly take it off-road to test its 4WD qualities as well as the differential lock mode, which worked seamlessly while providing excellent traction during my journey on dry mud and sand surfaces. It was easy and fun driving along the two-kilometre dirt track, one that was not exactly challenging though.  

For potential buyers of this car, the pastime of hardcore off-roading may not be their cup of tea. The only let down during my driving experience was the rather shoddy tyres — they were noisy and had less-than-ideal grip.


The interior

The premium-style interior is highly identical to the 2WD variant and the showpiece is still the large 8.7 inch-link two tablet, portrait-style touchscreen control — easy to use and works very well too. Currently, Renault is only one of three manufacturers to feature this large tablet-style control in their production vehicles. The German, Japanese and Korean rivals have yet to have it. To me, this makes the SUV unique. It also provides a nice premium touch to the whole package.

The rest of the cabin area augments the overall premium set-up of the Koleos. To further enhance it, I would recommend having powered seats for the front passenger — this would be ideal compared with the current set-up where only the driver enjoys electric seat adjustments. For more exclusivity, a panoramic roof or at least a sun roof would be much welcomed.


To sum it up

The Renault Koleos 4WD is a good option in the crowded SUV segment. It looks debonair, imposing and stylish, complete with a premium continental-style cabin and a top-notch drive experience. It justifies the slightly higher price tag compared with those by its Japanese and Korean competitors.

The Renault Koleos 2.5L 4WD is sold at RM201,800, about 10% higher than the 2WD variant.

Richard Teng ([email protected]) is a reformed boy racer who grew up down south. His motoring philosophy is “power is nothing without control”. He spent his younger days studying and repairing 4x4s and offroad motorcycles, and was an avid fan of heavily souped-up racing cars.


For more information on the new Renault Koleos, visit or