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Latest report: Renault Koleos long-term test

Date: 11 June 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Renault Koleos Signature Nav dCi 130
P11D price: £29,585
As tested: £30,245
Official consumption: 57.6mpg
Our average consumption: 46mpg
Mileage: 6,724

6th Report - Sticking it to the map

When I wrote about the Koleos's sat-nav in my last update, one factor I left out was the mapping. After the car arrived, it didn't take very long to work out that the maps with the TomTom-connected sat-nav were pretty out of date. 

On several occasions while driving, I came across junctions or roads that had clearly been reprofiled or built from scratch since the map was compiled, causing the display to show me driving across other roads or open countryside. On other occasions, the instructions, bearing no relation to what I could see through the windscreen, sent me in the wrong direction. Disappointingly, a bit of research showed that one of these roads was built well over a year before the car - it seems bizarre that a new car would go on sale without the most up-to-date sat-nav mapping installed.

Koleos Usb Car

Happily, there is a way to fix this, as map updates are available to download from Renault online and I've now finally got around to doing this. Unfortunately, the process isn't the quickest. The car can't pick up updates directly, so they have to be downloaded to a computer then transferred across with a USB stick or SD card. 

Having downloaded the Renault R-Link application to my laptop and formatted the stick as required, it then took around three hours to transfer the update to the stick. After being inserted into the car's USB port, the update took a further 45 minutes to install. The latter figure isn't terrible for a full map update, but the downside is it requires the engine to be on for the duration, meaning an annoying and not exactly environmentally-friendly wait in the car while it uploads.

The good news is that, having gone through all that, the update does seem to have worked and I'm now happy the sat-nav's map won't be sending me astray due to old age again any time soon. It just might have been nice to have a more convenient way of getting it up to speed.

 

5th Report - Helpful sat-nav hits a blip

Of all the convenience features fitted to company cars, sat-nav is arguably the most important - if the car can't get you where you need to be at the required time, then it's failing in its most important duty. 

Koleos Sat Nav

Helping our Koleos sat-nav with this is the addition of TomTom Live Services, including traffic information. It works well as you're driving along - if the system finds a faster route around an upcoming jam, it asks for a quick confirmation, then puts it in. This is useful enough on my regular commute, when it can switch between several routes to and from the BusinessCar office, reassuring me I'm not going to be sitting in traffic I could have avoided. But on a couple of recent occasions, it excelled itself. On a drive from Cheltenham to Devon, as I approached Bristol it told me to take the M4 towards Wales, routing me around a triangle with the M49 to rejoin the M4 just at the point a rush-hour jam ended. On another journey, it took me off the M25 through some Essex villages, before rejoining the motorway, where I saw, from the slip road, a broken-down vehicle and a resultant queue behind it, which I'd
skipped completely.

Unfortunately, though, the Koleos's sat-nav doesn't have an unblotted copybook. On a drive from Kent to Berkshire, following a recalculation, it told me to make a U-turn. Spotting a cul-de-sac allowing me to do this, I pulled in, at which point the sat-nav
completely crashed. 

Although the car's multimedia system was still working, the sat-nav section was blank, even when I turned the system off and on, and even turned the engine off and got out of the car in an effort to completely reset it. Fortunately, I was able to plug my phone in using Apple CarPlay and reach my destination that way, but if that hadn't been possible, I'd have been completely stuck. It eventually came back online for the return journey, though it still thought it was in Kent for a few minutes.

Overall, then, the sat-nav's been working well, but using it does now carry an element of doubt, rather than the assurance of reliability that business
drivers need.

4th Report - Motorway master

Working for BusinessCar involves plenty of long-distance drives to car launches and events across the country. With many of these journeys from our base in Kent involving the M25, the trips often end up taking even longer than planned, with traffic jams turning two-hour routes into three or four-hour slogs. Yet it occurred to me recently that when driving our long-term Koleos, I always arrive at my destination feeling fresh and relaxed. Clearly, it makes a good long-distance cruiser, but why?

Koleos Motorway

The answer isn't immediately obvious on first inspection of the car's seats. Bearing in mind our Signature Nav Koleos is a former range-topper (now superseded by Initiale Paris spec), most people's reaction when they first sit down is to say 'oh', as instead of the soft, cushioned luxury feel you might expect, the seats are rather hard. However, I never arrive at a destination feeling sore, which must mean they're well designed for long journeys. This is helped by the extensive level of adjustment on offer, including lumbar support. With the steering wheel also adjustable for height and reach, you should be able to find a comfortable driving position whatever shape and size you are.

Get up to speed on a motorway, and another major positive emerges - refinement. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is impressively quiet - barely audible in sixth gear even when you put your foot down. The cabin is also well insulated, meaning noise from wind and tyres is kept to a minimum. 

Put these together with cruise control, TomTom sat-nav that routes you around hold-ups, and audio and heating controls that come easily to hand, and an impressive overall picture emerges for long-distance travelling. For company car drivers thinking of switching from a traditional saloon to an SUV, the Koleos shows that the ability to effortlessly handle hours of motorway driving is not something that has to be sacrificed. 

3rd Report - Sensory overload

Sometimes, a car will come with a piece of technology that it soon becomes impossible to imagine living without. Other times, you'll see clearly superfluous options that could be deleted without hesitation. It's rarer to find something that's indispensible one minute and deeply annoying the next; however, that's the case with our Koleos's parking sensors.

Koleos Sensor Pic

First, the good points - the Koleos is a large car, making parking potentially tricky. There's a good reversing camera installed, but when parallel parking, it's useful to know exactly how far the front and sides of the car are from other vehicles and street furniture. Here, the sensors are great, showing exactly how much space I have in any direction, and giving me confidence to use parking spots I probably wouldn't even attempt otherwise.

The system can also be useful on the move. Recently, I drove down a road that became incredibly narrow, thanks to some ill-advised parking by others - probably only about 20cm wider than the Koleos in places. Dicey stuff, but with the sensors guiding me through, I was able to navigate the road safely, with wing mirrors remaining un-dinged.

So that's the good news. The bad is that the system stays on even when you aren't manoeuvring tightly, but just driving normally. It disengages when going more than 6mph, but that doesn't stop it going off in traffic or when weaving around parked cars on residential roads. Sometimes it will go off, with the associated loud warning noise, when another car passes nearby, even though it's clearly not on a collision course, and sometimes it will trigger for seemingly no reason at all, causing me to whirl round in a panic looking for a cyclist or other obstacle that simply isn't there. 

I could try to ignore the system while driving, but then I'd fear a 'boy who cried wolf' scenario where I'd dismiss a warning and promptly hit something. Or, alternatively, the sounds or the whole system can be turned off, but then I'd have to remember I'd done that the next time I parked, which I wouldn't necessarily trust myself to do.

Overall, it's a system worth having, but I do wish it was a bit more discerning.

2nd Report - Carry on carrying

The Renault Koleos is the sort of large SUV driven by people who, a few years ago, might have run an estate car instead. That means it has to be good at carrying large loads, and a recent trip to buy a new chest of drawers provided an early test for this.

Koleos Boot

Living with a car allows us to test the real-world usefulness of features that might otherwise seem like gimmicks. As an example, consider the Koleos's hands-free tailgate, operated by waving a foot under the rear of the car. I'd not given this feature much thought until this trip, but standing in drizzle with both hands full of a surprisingly heavy flat-pack, it suddenly seemed like a real bonus. I may not have the knack for it yet, as it took a couple of attempts before the system clocked me, but once it did, my relief at being able to slide my purchase straight into the boot without having to put it down and pick it up again was genuine. And slide straight in it did - the boot floor is totally flat and there's no lip on entry, making loading easy.

I didn't need to fold the seats down on this occasion, but if I had, Renault's One Touch system means this would just require a quick pull on the levers on each side of the boot to drop them, without having to walk round and open the rear passenger doors. 

Also, the retractable parcel shelf can be unlatched with one hand, before rolling itself out of the way behind the rear seats; it is then just as easy to pull back out and relatch when
you're done.

Even when not transporting big loads, I'm still enjoying how, on regular workday mornings, the keyless entry means I don't have to fumble in my pockets for the fob before opening the boot. Also, being able to then press the close button and get in the driver's seat while the tailgate shuts itself may save literally two seconds, but when it comes to cutting down on commuting stress, it all adds up.

1st Report - Biggest is best?

The Koleos was the final piece of Renault's current three-pronged assault on the booming SUV market. The compact Captur was one of the first models in its segment to go on sale, receiving a facelift last year. Then we got the Qashqai-sized Kadjar, before the new Koleos arrived as the biggest of the bunch. Although the Koleos name itself isn't new, it hadn't been seen in the UK since 2010. The new car is aiming to beat the likes of the Nissan X-Trail - which could be tricky, as it's based on the same underpinnings. But to see what it's like to live with day to day, we're welcoming one onto our fleet for the next six months.

Our car is in Signature Nav trim, which was the top-of-the-range model from launch, although Renault recently announced a new Initiale Paris trim to sit above it. As you'd expect from a range-topper, our car comes with plenty of kit to keep us entertained and safe. Most of this we're already familiar with at BusinessCar, having seen it on our previous long-termer, the Megane. 

 Rear Shot

On the move, safety features include a lane-departure warning system, advanced emergency braking system, and a blind-spot warning system. There's also hill-start assist, cruise control, a rear parking camera, and a system that recognises traffic signs to keep you updated on the current speed limit. I'm hoping to find the latter especially useful, as my regular commute to the BusinessCar office features plenty of rural roads that turn into 30mph residential streets and then back again. There's also a stretch of smart motorway with variable-speed-limit cameras, meaning plenty of potential for heart-stopping, "Wait, that sign did say 60mph, didn't it?" moments.  

Despite its size, the Koleos only comes with five seats, rather than the seven available in some rivals, meaning its advantages over smaller SUVs when it comes to practicality will be based around transporting the same number of passengers more easily, rather than fitting more of them in. 

Stepping aboard for the first time, you get the high driving position that is often such a selling point for cars of this type, though I suspect I may suffer from driving vertigo, as I immediately wanted to adjust the seat to its lowest setting. Also, having stepped into it from a supermini, the back window seemed a long way away in the rear-view mirror. However, since the Koleos comes with a rear parking camera, and front and rear sensors, as standard, there shouldn't be any issues with manoeuvring.

Interior

Under the bonnet, our car comes with a 1.6-litre diesel engine, the smallest of the two engine options Renault offers. Although Koleos drivers won't be expecting lightning performance, it does seem like a lot of car for a 1.6-litre engine to haul around. We're looking forward to finding out how it performs on the road, and whether we'll wish we were instead running the
2.0-litre diesel. For our car, Renault claims a 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds, and a top speed of 115mph. Of course, the big advantage of a smaller engine should come via the wallet, and in terms of running costs, the car claims to achieve a combined 57.7mpg, and CO2 emissions of 128g/km, compared with the quoted 50.4mpg and 148g/km for the 2.0-litre. Our car's figures result in a 27% BIK band for the current tax year. 

On first impressions, the Koleos seems solidly put together, striking to look at, and certainly spacious inside, with a good amount of standard equipment. We're keen to find out if it will continue to impress once we start to rack up the miles from behind the wheel.



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