Renault Koleos I, a brilliant car that nobody bought. So why would you buy it? Renault Koleos I, the SimGolf of the car world.

Launched in 2007 in very close to concept form, the Renault Koleos I came to retire the questionable RX4 and offer the only SUV proposition from Renault. Built with parts stolen from the X-Trail and Qashqai assembly line, the Renault Koleos comes from the era of reliable cars built by garlic eaters and questionable sexuality.


Why hasn’t anyone bought the Renault Koleos I?

As I said, the first Koleos came right at the beginning of the era of reliable cars, i.e. right after the era of the bad cars had passed. Thank the Laguna II for the reputation of the French. 

More than that, maybe reliability helps the Renault Koleos I but looks certainly give it the heave-ho. Coming with big engines, it was too big to take on the Tiguan or Duster but too small and ugly to take on the Touareg, Q5, or some Range Rover that breaks down every 100 yards. What’s more, the Mitsubishi Outlander/Peugeot 4007/Citroen C-Crosser offensive is launched, cars that look better. It’s 2007, everyone is throwing money at SUVs, and status and image were paramount in this segment of cars. A Koleos is a practical and beautiful car on the inside, not a social status on wheels like an Evoque for example.


What makes this car so reliable though?

For one thing, it’s built on the Nissan X-Trail platform, a car famous for its abuse resistance and minimal maintenance. Besides the X-Trail platform, the Renault Koleos I only got big engines, where there are no issues. All the fun is in the small engines, like the 1.2 TCe or 1.5 dCi, while the standard engine is the legendary 2.0 dCi and optionally you could go for a 2.5 V6 petrol. Cool stuff, for a small car. So, the Renault Koleos I looks like a city car, but it’s more built for off-road and the countryside, and that’s another reason why people haven’t trampled over each other to buy it. Cars made for off-roading have never sold well among those who want an off-road capable car but never go off-road. Cars like the Touareg, the Land Cruiser or the Range Rover. No, the Renault Koleos I is more like the Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Pajero, Hyundai Teracan, or Land Rover Freelander.


Renault Koleos I – a tractor with leather seats, navigation, and all the utilities needed for family life.


Renault Koleos I Engines


2.5 V6 of 171 horsepower  – It wasn’t bad enough that no one has bought a Renault Koleos I, the chances of finding a 2.5 V6 are as high as my hopes of a relevant corporate career. Ah yes, good luck finding mechanics to mess with that engine.


2.0 dCi of 173 hp  – By far the most logical and balanced of the two engines available, the 2.0 dCi has proven to be a reliable engine. The only real point of concern is with the timing chain which needs to be preventatively checked every 40,000 miles. Not replaced, just checked. It only needs to be checked in case of wear. Renault/Nissan used magic and put garlic through the timing chain, so when it’s worn or out of sync it doesn’t make any strange noises. The only way you can tell if there’s a problem or not is to do a preventive check.


Renault Koleos I General Issues

  • The CVT automatic gearbox is not the happiest transmission possible so give it a spin beforehand to make sure you get used to it. Also, the 60,000km service interval should be in mind.
  • Because it’s a very rare car, parts can be scarce and expensive. Do a general search beforehand to see the prices of the usual parts (flywheel, clutch, filters, sensors, plates, etc.) and find out if there are workshops in your village that know how to work on a Renault Koleos I. This is the major price that less popular cars have to pay.


Renault Koleos I Verdict

An excellent car that nobody wanted. A very good car that handles excellently both on the tarmac and after the tarmac ends. Yes, it may not have the 7-seater version, but how many people buy SUVs looking solely on that criteria? In any case, the Renault Koleos I remains a victim of circumstance but one that has given its all. A car worth at least testing, if not buying.

Which engine do I recommend? The only balanced choice is the 173 horsepower 2.0 dCi diesel. It’s not like you’re going to come across a 2.5 V6 petrol any time soon.