Priced at RM201,800 (on-the-road inclusive of GST, without insurance), the Koleos looks impressive and upmarket, more so with doses of chrome trimmings at the grille, side and rear.
Its Pure Vision LED headlamps are stylish and add to the car’s visual charm and are 20% more powerful than halogen types.
As part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance (Nissan bought a controlling stake in Mitsubishi last year), the second-generation Koleos shares chassis and engine with the Nissan X-Trail for economies of scale and speed to market. But they differ in size and interior layout, with the Koleos being lower, wider and longer. All of which add up to a good-looking vehicle.
The Koleos has a wheelbase of 2,705mm, said to be among the longest in its class, and its bootspace of 550 litres can be increased to 1,690 litres with rear seats folded.
Inside, the vehicle is spacious and feels premium with leather upholstery, satin-chrome finish trimmings and a centre 8.7-inch portrait infotainment touchscreen, one of the largest in its category.
The touchscreen which uses the same tactile functions as tablet computer such as two-finger zoom, page scrolling, drag and drop among others, also offers realistic navigation display with 3D buildings and Bluetooth handsfree telephony and audio streaming.
If those are not enough, there are also a USB port, a 3.5mm jack socket and a 12V power supply.
The Koleos also supports a range of connected, personalisable multimedia systems such as the R-LINK 2 multimedia system.
The 8.7-inch colour screen instrument cluster is customisible, being able to display information such as road speed, engine speed, fuel consumption, range, radio stations and 4WD drive mode, among others. On the minus side, the screen tends to pick up fingerprint smudges and dust, so keep a microfibre rag ready.
The LED cabin lighting, meanwhile, comes in colours of green, blue, yellow, red or violet.
You can change the drivetrain mode from 2WD to 4WD Auto or 4WD Lock modes via a switch at the right lower dashboard. The 2WD promises higher fuel efficiency and recommended for tarmac driving.
The 4WD Auto works better on slippery or sandy roads where some torque can be distributed to rear wheels to regain grip the moment the front wheels start slipping.
Finally, 4WD Lock mode keeps torque distribution at a 50:50 ratio for the front and rear wheels for better traction when going off-road.
Slot the gear into "D", and the Koleos takes off smoothly, thanks to its XTronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). “Gear” shifting is seamless, and is almost akin to travelling inside a luxury sedan.
The 2.5-litre engine, outputting 169hp and 226Nm of torque, has more than enough grunt to propel the Koleos which has an unladen kerb weight of 1,607kg.
As a non-turbo engine, its response is immediate, and you can feel the hefty Koleos surge forward without hesitation.
With a pliant suspension and running on large 18-inch wheels, potholes and speed bumps can be easily handled without any harshness being relayed to passengers.
Steering feel is nicely weighted and you get good feedback and responsiveness.
At high speeds, the Koleos feels planted on the road, which easily inspires driver confidence to maintain the quick pace.
The cabin is well insulated against wind and road noises even at speeds of around 120kph, making the Koleos a quiet and enjoyable vehicle to be in. Its centre console cubby comes with a chilling feature and can accommodate typical drink cans or travel mugs.
The hand-free power tailgate can be opened by doing a kicking action with your foot underneath the rear bumper. Sensors will detect movement and raise the tailgate with the need of pressing the key fob. It can be finicky at times, so practice is required.
Incidentally, the Koleos will lock all doors the moment you walk away from it, ensuring it is safe and secured.
Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, blindsport warning system, anti-whiplash front and rear headrests, anti-submarining front seats, rear ISOFIX anchorage for i-Size child seats. All seat belts are equipped with pretensioners and load limiters.
The latest-generation electronic stability control, traction control, braking assist, electronic brake force distribution and hill start assist come as standard equipment.
Reverse camera with front, rear and side parking sensors make parking easy even in tight bays.
The Koleos 4WD get a new exclusive colour of Marron Red in addition to Universal White, Grey Metallic, Black Metallic and Meissen Blue which are available to Koleos 2WD. Both variants are fully imported from Renault Samsung Motors' plant in Busan, South Korea.
Our parting words on the Koleos 4WD would be that its high sticker price is matched by interior and exterior packaging that put it on the premium side of the SUV camp. And as far as SUV driving dynamics go, it isn't shabby at all. — HONG BOON HOW & GEORGE WONG