With the sales of SUVs continuing to rise exponentially year-on-year, car makers are scrabbling to add more examples to their line-ups. Renault is already well placed to take advantage of the phenomenon with its Captur and Kadjar models, selling more than 46,000 of them in the UK last year, and is now adding a third string to its bow with the launch of the top-of-therange Koleos, that crowns the UK range. Combined with the all-new Scenic and Grand Scenic MPVs, the French firm has one of the youngest car model line-ups in the marketplace, and one of the most expansive to suit all lifestyles.

The Koleos is built on the same platform as the Megane and Kadjar, as well as the European only Talisman and Espace, and is designed to compete in the large SUV market against vehicles like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Skoda Kodiaq. But while those three vehicles are available with seven seats, Renault has taken the decision to only offer the Koleos with space for five, which seems quite odd considering the car’s positioning and footprint. It’s a striking looking car though, will a heavily chrome-laden front end and sports a large, bold Renault diamond emblem on the nose.

We’ve only managed to sample the 174bhp 2.0-litre dCi unit so far, paired to the X-Tronic continuously variable transmission with seven clear steps added so that it behaves more like a traditional torque converter equipped gearbox. Performance is leisurely off the line, though overtaking muscle is much more impressive. It cruises along nicely, and though there’s some wind noise to be heard, sounds from the tyres and road are kept neatly in check. The engine can be chattery when cold, but once warmed up it settles down to become a distant sound. On more challenging roads, body lean is pretty reasonable, but the steering doesn’t deliver an awful lot of feedback as to what the front wheels are doing. There’s decent grip, particularly in fourwheel- drive mode, where loose gravel tracks and muddy ascents can be tackled with confidence. Overall the Koleos is a little uninspiring to drive, though that may suit a lot of buyers, as not everyone wants thrills and spills at every turn. The suspension generally soaks up bumps and potholes quite well, but does seem to get unsettled by undulations.

The cabin of the Koleos is huge, with lots of legroom for rear seat passengers and plenty of head space up front. At the rear, the edges of the panoramic roof intrude, though that’s only likely to bother the tallest of occupants. There’s space for three abreast and thanks to wide opening doors, getting in and out is easy, especially for those with restricted mobility. The boot sill may be quite high, which is common to many SUVs of this size, but the space on offer is decent with 458 litres with the seats up, and 1,690 litres with the chairs tumbled down almost flat. The driving position is suitably elevated and gives a commanding view out, with seats that deliver excellent levels of support and plenty of adjustment, electric in the case of our test car.

Oddment space is decent with a large area in front of the gear lever, a spacious glovebox, a well-proportioned armrest cubby and adequate door pockets. The majority of surfaces are soft, though there are a few scratchy plastics, and the wood trim looks passé in a newly launched car. The digital dials are easy to read, and the large 8.7-inch portraitshaped touchscreen that dominates the centre of the cabin is neatly positioned and well thought out. The quality of the graphics are good and it’s easy to navigate through the different menus. The perennial problem of fingerprints on the screen is unavoidable, and annoyingly the plastics around the edge are particularly susceptible to greasy marks, meaning you’re forever reaching for a cloth. All-round visibility is good thanks to exceptionally deep windows and all versions of the Koleos come with parking sensors front and rear, as well as a camera. An automated parking system is available at extra cost for £350, while an uprated Bose audio system with 13 speakers and a digital amplifier for music fans is priced at £600.

On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £27,500 to £34,200
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 1.6 (129bhp), 2.0 (174bhp)
Trim levels | Dynamique S, Signature
Also consider | Ford Edge, Skoda Kodiaq
Model tested | Signature dCi 175 4WD X-tronic
Price | £34,200
Made in | Busan, South Korea
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Layout | Four-wheel-drive
Engine | 1995cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel
Stop-start | Yes
Selective catalyst reduction | No
Transmission | Continuously variable transmission
Maximum power | 174bhp @ 3,750rpm
Maximum torque | 280lb ft @ 2,000rpm
Top speed | 125mph 0-62mph | 9.5secs
CO2 emissions | 156g/km
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 45.6/48.7/47.9mpg
Fuel tank size | 60 litres
Range | 632 miles Insurance group | 23
Company car BIK rate | 33%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,672/2,063mm
Boot space (min/max) | 458/1,690 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight | 1,696/1,650kg