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Koleos may be a contender for Australia

Collaborative effort: The Koleos was a joint Renault-Samsung effort.

If the business case adds up Renault’s first proper SUV could head to Australia

10 Oct 2006

RENAULT Australia has put its hand up for the Koleos.

"We’d love to see (the Koleos)," according to Renault Australia spokesperson Lenore Fletcher.

"We are going to take a look at that vehicle as soon as we are able to." However, Australians may not be able to drive the new Renault SUV for another two years.

The Koleos Concept, unveiled at last week’s Paris motor show, is not scheduled for a release in Europe before the second quarter of 2008.

Renault may choose another name by the time the production version comes on stream.

The attractive and well-proportioned four-door SUV wagon is the result of collaboration between Renault and its Samsung offshoot, and was designed and engineered at the Renault Samsung Motors Design Centre in South Korea.

Much of the concept car will translate to the production version, although the large wheels, futuristic headlight treatment and sci-fi exterior mirrors are pure flights of fancy.

To keep costs competitive against similar Asian rivals, Samsung has been chosen as the sole global supplier of the productionised version of the Koleos Concept.

There will also be a Samsung version, sporting subtle styling alterations. It’s due out in South Korea by late next year.

Despite their similarity in size and timing, the Koleos Concept is unrelated to the new Nissan Qashqai – another Paris motor show debutante.

The Qashqai comes from Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom, and is aimed at the more premium end of the small-car segment.

Instead, Nissan’s contribution to the Koleos Concept project is mainly related to the part-time 4WD platform employed, which is spun off the second-generation X-Trail compact 4WD that is due to unveiled sometime in 2007.

Reflecting Nissan’s widespread expertise in the SUV field, the Koleos Concept boasts 200mm of ground clearance as well as front and rear skid plates.

35 center imageIt also features an electronically controlled coupler that helps distribute torque evenly for maximum traction. Drive varies from 100 per cent front-wheel drive to 100 per cent rear-wheel drive.

A hill-descent function, Hill Start Assist and stability control are also part of the show car’s drive package, as are anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake force assist.

The Koleos Concept is powered by Renault’s new, transversely mounted 2.0-litre dCi four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, delivering 130kW of power via a six-speed manual gearbox.

It includes common-rail injection and a variable-geometric turbocharger, as well as a particulate filter, for Euro-4 emissions compliance.

Equipment levels are expected to be generous. The show car includes individual leather seating for four, a multimedia centre, satellite navigation and a panoramic glass sunroof – a favourite among the French car-makers at the moment.

Renault is claiming that the Koleos Concept is a crossover, and points to MPV people-mover inspired items like the plethora of storage areas such as the under-seat drawers and huge console bin.

Aiding its role as a family wagon, the tailgate is split for quick and easy access, with the lower half acting as a seat for people on picnics.

Key dimensions for length, width and height are 4520mm, 1890mm and 1700mm respectively.

The production version of the Koleos Concept is a key player in Renault’s "Commitment 2009" plan that, in part, calls for an 800,000 vehicle production increase for the alliance.

For this reason alone it is probably one of the most important vehicles to have debuted at the Paris motor show.

The SUV that grows out of the Koleos Concept will not be the first Renault 4WD sold in Australia.

From 2001 to 2004 the then-fledgling importer offered the RX4, a jacked up, plastic-cladded all-wheel drive version of the first-generation Scenic MPV.

It sold poorly globally, hampered by its limited capacity as a 4WD, as well as omissions like the availability of an automatic transmission.

Count on Renault not making RX4-type mistakes again with its future SUVs.

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