When someone says their new car is designed to be “business class, not Ryanair”, you can bet they’ve thought long and hard about the sort of buyer they reckon would be interested in that type of proposition.
In an era of low-fares rivalry and cars with entry-level prices that no one buys at, Renault are firmly in the business section with their profiling of the new large-ish SUV/crossover Koleos.
The car, they say, is not about cramming in more seats a-la Ryanair but about creating more space with the five it has.
I suspect there was a message there for the likes of my good self who, after driving the car in Finland some time back, asked if €34,000-plus wasn’t a stiff starting price for a car with just five seats when its cousin, the Nissan X-Trail, can manage seven. I also mentioned there is demand for seven-seaters at this level (Skoda’s new Kodiaq being a case in point).
No, we were told, this is a five-seater and that’s the way the cookie is going to crumble. The Koleos is their flagship and a display of what they consider to be the best they can put out there.
It is a big roomy car, no doubt whatsover about that.
There are thickly-padded rear seats, for example, because they’re not worried about you trying to fold them flat for more room.
They reckon the boot is spacious enough, though I noted how high the rear-loading sill was – a bit of a lift.
Anyway, they seem to feel they have licence to give this luxury trip a bit of a lash and see what happens.
They have already had lift-off in that they’ve had orders for, or sold, more than 80 – a good start considering the short timeframe. They see people getting out of high-spec, large-family/fleet saloons and hatches to get into this. It will be interesting to see how it fares.
SUVs and crossovers are in such demand that this could meet another niche need.
Driving it on Irish roads was comfortable. The leather upholstery on our 2-litre 4×4 top-spec version undoubtedly added a dimension of luxury. The suspension felt on the forgiving side of soft.
There is a lot of cabin room – thanks to a 2.71 metre wheelbase and the car’s 4.67-metre length.
There are 2WD and 4WD versions, as I’ve reported before, and 1.6-litre and 2-litre diesels.
You can have an X-Tronic automatic transmission or a manual gearbox.
They positively opted out of going for less-well-specced entry-level versions – hence the starting price and the allusion to business class.
No entry levels means there are two trims: Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. Standard spec includes cruise control, speed limiter, ISOFIX child-seat points on two outer rear seats, four USB/two AUX ports, 7ins touchscreen R-LINK2 multimedia system (sat nav) – Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, 18ins alloys, adjustable/heated/folding mirrors, roof bars, Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, rear parking camera, front/rear parking sensors, part-black leather upholstery, auto dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, etc.
Signature Nav adds 19ins two-tone alloys, full LED headlights, full black leather upholstery, heated front seats, 8.7ins portrait R-LINK2 multimedia system.
There is an optional Climate Pack (ventilated, heated front/rear seats/steering wheel/windscreen on Signature Nav trim) and a 13-speaker BOSE© sound system and hands-free parking.
Prices start at €34,490 for the 1.6-litre 130bhp Dynamique S Nav dCi (€270 road tax) and €40,490 for the 2-litre 175bhp Dynamique S Nav dCi 175 (€390 tax).