With no pre-existing model template to adhere to, Renault has taken the opportunity to be fairly bold with the Koleos’s exterior.

The influence of the Talisman (the firm’s unfamiliar but really rather good-looking saloon) is obvious enough, as is the same well-groomed design language that produced the current generation of the Mégane and Scenic.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
I like a good grab handle. But their prominence in the Koleos is rather at odds with the conventional car-flavour interior elsewhere in the cabin

The selective use of brightwork – that chrome strip running down the front wing, for example – is a somewhat unsubtle wink to premium-market shoppers, although the Koleos’s real attention-getter is arguably its physical size.

At 4672mm, the model is significantly longer than the average modern volume-brand SUV and it comes as a mild surprise to discover that the inside is strictly limited to five seats rather than seven.

Certainly, the modular platform beneath was conceived with boot-mounted jump seats in mind. After all, it’s the same CMF-C/D architecture that underpins the Nissan X-Trail (and the Espace and Scenic, for that matter).

Therein lies Renault’s people-carrying problem: it already sells an established seven-seater in the UK and would prefer not to pinch sales from the Grand Scenic.

Top 5 Family SUVs

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Consequently, the Koleos is pitched as big in the desirable manner of an executive saloon rather than a commodious workhorse.

Be that as it may, the model doesn’t avoid the usual selection of workmanlike engines. There are only two on offer, both diesels and both four-pots. The 128bhp 1.6-litre dCi props up the range with a standard six-speed manual gearbox and is limited to driving the front axle alone.

The more expensive 175bhp 2.0-litre dCi can be twinned with either manual or CVT auto gearboxes, but both drive Renault’s All Mode 4x4-i all-wheel-drive system. We tested this version with optional X-Tronic CVT transmission.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s because the engines, gearboxes and four-wheel-drive system are all shared with the X-Trail, too – as are the front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension.

The All Mode four-wheel-drive system features an electronically controlled coupling on the rear axle that is capable of delivering up to 50 percent of the available torque to the back wheels when the system deems it necessary, or if the driver has opted to ‘lock’ the split manually via a button on the dashboard.

Alternatively, ‘2WD’ can be selected, reducing the Koleos to a humble front-driver but potentially aiding fuel economy in the process.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week