The Koleos is something that Renault designers have long dreamt about – a concept that is neither a traditional saloon nor an off-road vehicle, but an intelligent blend of both. The concept model combines the on-the-road qualities and comfort of a top-range saloon with the off-road capability of a 4WD.
By successfully blending seemingly contradictory motoring values, the Koleos plays the multi-purpose card, with an innovative design that gives it a unique and highly distinctive personality. As a generously-sized monospace car (4.5 metres long), the Koleos initially comes across as a top-range saloon, with a fluid, streamlined profile conveying dynamism and power. The side panels and arch-shaped headlamps are styled to create the impression of a pouncing feline.
The rear doors have two original ideas. First is that the tailgate uses the two-stage parallel opening technology and second, it slides to the left of the car as it opens to facilitate access to the boot compartment.
The fully-modular boot is separated from the passenger compartment by a retractable window; a mechanism lowers the rear window into the tailgate while the roof section above the boot slides horizontally under the roof panel. This allows conversion into a pickup when desired.
The monospace bodystyle makes for optimized interior space. The passenger compartment exudes a sense of well-being, comfort and brightness, with a windscreen that extends in two glazed lateral strips along each side of the roof, for more interior light.
The four seats have carbon sheets covered in hand-stitched leather from the prestigious firm Connolly, whose inspiration here draws on saddle design combine aesthetics and ergonomics. Seat and back are supported by four damping cylinders, and the carbon laminates adapt to body pressure to ensure optimum comfort.
Though the Koleos stakes very definite upmarket claims, this in no way detracts from its off-road capability, which is clearly denoted through rugged styling features, compact format, and high ground clearance. But the protective mouldings that extend along the wings to encompass the large-diameter (21 inches) wheels are discreet, highlighting rather than attenuating the elegant refinement of the exterior.
The variable-height suspension uses pneumatic and hydraulic springs that are capable of adjusting vehicle height in a matter of seconds. The transition between 4WD mode (vehicle height: 1.70 metres) and saloon mode (height:1.60 metres) is fully automatic and depends upon both vehicle speed and the type of road surface. For sports-style driving on the open road, a low position with stiffer suspension enhances the car’s dynamic response, while in high 4WD position, the comfort is improved by a softer suspension.
High technology pervades the Koleos in an unobtrusive way. There are features such as a speech-responsive screen that controls essential interior functions like climate control, audio and driver guidance. Options are displayed for selection on a screen menu, and can be triggered using a finger roller control. In the same way, the arch-shaped headlamps use technology derived from research into fluid optics. The light flow enters a dioptric fluid optic, which shapes the light and guides it either to the lower half-arch for the dipped position or to the upper half-arch for the main-beam position.
Hybrid power unit
Driving pleasure is a major requirement for any top-range vehicle, but with the Koleos , Renault has sought to meet this requirement without sacrificing environmental protection. The hybrid power unit in the Koleos adapts intelligently to different driving phases, with electric, internal-combustion and hybrid modes managed automatically by an electronic controller.
In town, the Koleos runs in a non-polluting all-electric mode, with lithium-ion batteries providing up to 30 kW of power for the electric motor to drive the rear wheels. On the open road, the 2.0-litre 16V 170 bhp turbocharged F4R engine takes over, driving the front wheels, with the electric motor providing an extra power boost if needed. In 4WD mode, the internal combustion engine and the electric motor work together for maximum power and off-road capability.
Although there are no plans to produce the Koleos for sale, many of its ideas would eventually find their way into other Renault models.