They creep and crawl around our leafy, affluent suburbs. They show up in plague proportions at sporting fields across the nation. They often take up more than one parking spot at your local shopping centre, it’s the European SUV. But do you need to spend the equivalent of a home deposit to buy one? The answer is no in the case of Renault Koleos Zen, but only if you want a European badge.
What is it?
This is a mid-sized SUV that’s built on the Nissan X-Trail platform and made in South Korea. So firstly, it’s got of an identity issue going on here. It has five seats and plenty of cargo space you’d need for a young family. The European looks are there with rounded features, lots of bright chrome work, attractive side steps and roof rails. A straight crease line passes over a side vent on the front doors gradually rising over the rear, bulging wheel arches.
The interior is very comfortable with faux leather seats. No great effort has been put into lifting the overall cabin ambiance however, with mostly grey to black tonnes dominating every surface. The leather steering wheel does feel good in the hands, however. The usual French quirks are there, such as the paddle you can’t see behind the wheel that controls multimedia features.
Behind the Wheel
The Koleos Zen cruises around town without too many annoyances. The steering feel is well weighted so navigating tight spots shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The Zen variant sits just above the entry Life model. In fact, there are six models in total with 4×2, 4×4 and diesel offerings available. Body roll is well contained, although you’re never going to have that satisfying feel a well-tuned SUV can offer through the twisty bits.
Unfortunately, at the Zen level you only score front-wheel-drive, this can lead to some annoying torque steer in the wet.
The infotainment system is behind the times, without being a total disgrace like Nissan’s effort. But thankfully Renault has bothered to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is a real God send.
The 2.5L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine produces just 126kW/226Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Unfortunately, the paring is a little underdone, let’s just say the combo offers modest performance.
The R-LINK multimedia system is presented via a 7’’ landscape touchscreen. It includes satellite navigation with three years of free map upgrades and live traffic updates. However, as I said, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are onboard.
Safety features are paramount these days and the Koleos has the required necessities. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), blind spot warning with a collision warning system, surround parking sensors with a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitor.
The sound system is more than adequate via a 3D effect Arkamys eight-speaker set up. There are two USB inputs up front, so bad luck for the kids in the rear.
There are all the automatic features you’d expect including, auto headlights and wipers, dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats
Both I and our Dictator Trevor Long spent some quality in the Koleo Zen here’s what we thought in once sentence.
It felt a little bland to me, the infotainment system is a letdown, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto save the day.
It’s very close to feeling exactly like a Nissan X-Trail, but the looks and badge give it some extra appeal.
Before on roads the Renault Koleos Zen is priced from $35,490, with metallic paint adding $880 and side steps $791, taking our test car to $37,161. Claimed fuel economy is 8.1L/100km. I averaged 11.2/100km but as usual don’t use me as a benchmark if you get my drift. Renault offer a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Service intervals are an astounding 12 months or 30,000km.
Why Would You Buy One?
Because like Daniel Riciardo you’ve “Made the Move”.
Look there’s a couple of things to weigh up here. The Zen is well priced against the opposition. Although you can pick up a more powerful and efficient Honda CR-V VTis for $33,290. The equivalent X-Trail ST-L is $37,200. The Koleos is also the brands top seller in Australia. It won’t raise too many eye brows around the neighbourhood, it’s a tad benign for my liking, but worth a look. It’s a 6.5 out 10 for me.