Capable without being charismatic

  • Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 02, 2014 17:39 IST

The demand for sports utility vehicles in India may be waning due to the spike in diesel prices, but off-roaders continue to interest. To that extent the chances are better for a refurbished Koleos than a Fluence. But it is pitted against a formidable opponent in the Toyota Fortuner, which refuses to age.

The new Koleos is not radically different. It is smaller than many of its competitors, looking more like a crossover than a rugged SUV such as Fortuner or Pajero. Changes include a wider grille with a bolder Renault badge, and chrome here and there.

The cabin is rather plain. It is a definite step above the scratchy interiors of butch SUVs, but pales compared to the new Santa Fe. For a car priced at ` 24 lakh, quality is suspect.

Despite its bulk, the Koleos gets just a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, with both two-wheel and four wheel drive options, as well as with an automatic transmission (on 4x4). We got to test drive the gearless version and came back reasonably impressed. The short wheelbase meant that the car was more agile and offered one of the best ride qualities. It does not falter when off roading either.

At Rs. 25 lakh ex-showroom for the automatic 4x4, it still feels a tad expensive. Consumers tend to veer towards the Fortuner or Santa Fe. What may queer its pitch are cars like Audi Q3 S or a BMW X1, which cost more but sport a decidedly bigger badge.

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