The new Koleos presents a more upright and boxier stance than it's predecessor, and while the giant Renault diamond takes pride of place smack bang in the middle of the radiator grille, there are certainly Audi-like design touches around the rear flanks and through the glasshouse.
The Koleos proves that car manufacturing is now truly a global affair, being a French brand manufactured in Korea underpinned by Japanese technology.
In Korea, it's named the Renault Samsung QM6; while the previous Koleos generation was called QM5 locally. Renault Samsung also markets a Korean version of the Renault Captur under the name QM3.
The 2.5-litre petrol automatic Koleos Zen arrives in front wheel drive configuration priced from $44,990, and this includes for a limited time the optional $1000 safety pack at no extra charge.
The safety package includes the advanced emergency braking system or AEBS- interurban, as well as the blind spot warning system (BSW), and forward collision warning system (FCW).
A 4x4 version of the 2.5-litre petrol automatic Koleos Zen is available to special order for $49,990.
Moving up to the Zen Intens 4x4 with the 2.5-litre petrol engine will cost $54,990, and a diesel version arriving later this year will retail at $59,990.
Inside the cabin both the Zen (as tested) and the Intens receive leather upholstery, climate controlled air conditioning, and a 7 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen which drives the infotainment system, that Renault calls R-Link 2, which also offers voice activation.
Both of the Koleos models roll on 18-inch alloy wheels, being Taranis rims for the Zen and Argonaut rims for the Intens.
The Zen offers brushed silver and satin chrome highlights on the doors, dashboard, and around the transmission tunnel which nicely breaks up the dark gray trim, making the interior feel a little less sombre.
Other standard features on the Zen include heated front seats, automatic locking, LED daytime running lights, front, and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, and Keyless entry and engine start/stop with smart key.
Further specification includes navigation, rear privacy glass, one-touch folding rear seats, roof rails, shark fin antenna, and an electrically adjust driver's seat with electric lumbar support.
Just as the forthcoming Renault Alaskan pick up will share engine, transmission, and body architecture with the Nissan Navara, the Koleos shares the same technology with the Nissan X-Trail SUV.
The multipoint fuel injected four-cylinder 2.5-litre engine is a smooth and willing performer, offering 126kW of power and 226 Newton Metres of torque, providing the Koleos with a 2000kg towing capacity.
While I've never been a huge fan of continuously variable transmissions (CVT), in this application the Renault/Nissan X-Tronic automatic in the Koleos is by far one of the best yet.
The X-Tronic CVT will electronically simulate gearshifts in the manner of a traditional automatic transmission with a torque converter, so you don't get that horrible high-pitched whine under engine load when accelerating hard.
This gearshift simulation also allows you to downshift in the same manner as a traditional automatic for engine braking when descending a steep incline; it is a useful feature and it does work well in practice.
Day to day, the Koleos Zen is a very pleasant driving companion, offering a quiet and refined drive, a very comfortable ride quality over rougher New Zealand road surfaces, and loads of leg room and space for rear seat occupants.
On the motorway at 100km/h plus, there is some wind noise around the top of the windscreen, but overall noise, vibration, and harshness is very muted, and it's easy to converse with other people in the cabin or enjoy the quality audio system.
There are 458 litres of boot space in the Koleos, and the flat-folding rear seat backs have a one-touch folding mechanism to accommodate longer items more quickly.
We travelled around 300km in the Koleos Zen, and our best average fuel consumption was 9L/100km, which isn't far from the combined figure of 8.1L/100km quoted by Renault.
One great security feature of the Koleos is the automatic 'walk away' door locking function. But, there is a but, and did I get caught out by it!
Provided you have the credit card-size smart key in your pocket or handbag, all you need to do is turn the car off, exit, and moments later the security system with the Koleos will chirp loudly, the headlights will flash, and the car will lock itself.
However, don't be in a rush as I was one day, and exited the Koleos in a hurry to grab a parking ticket from the nearest machine, but mistakenly left the engine running and the indicator on, flashing the right turn signal.
The Koleos naturally locked itself, but when I returned to it, with a parking ticket in hand, the bloody thing assumed I was a burglar and wouldn't unlock to let me back in.
No amount of pressing the button on the door or the button on the smart key would unlock the car. Being somewhat stressed and late for a meeting didn't help the situation either.
Thankfully after a quick call to Renault HQ, the problem was quickly solved, restoring my calm and equilibrium.
The solution was sliding the cover off the smart key and using the emergency key inside to unlock the Koleos using the key hole in the offside front passenger door.
Aside from the hiccup with the walk-away locking feature, our test week with the Koleos was a pleasant one, and we feel this car offers a viable and economical alternative in the small to medium SUV market.
It has the cachet of being a well-regarded European brand with five-star safety credentials, but it's also very well specified and priced to meet the Japanese and Korean competitors head on in a very busy market segment.