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Renault boosts Koleos with new entry model

Facial Expression: Renault’s new entry model misses out on some exterior and cabin detailing, but has value and safety on its side.

Renault cuts entry price of struggling Koleos SUV to $28,490 with 4x2 Expression

Renault logo5 Aug 2010

RENAULT has introduced a new baseline Expression variant for its struggling Koleos compact SUV, dropping the entry price to $28,490 for its all-important volume-selling model which is failing to capitalise on the current sales boom in the segment.

Industry figures from the VFACTS reporting service this week show that compact SUVs remain one of the most significant segments in the market, climbing 44.2 per cent in July – with 9100 sales – over the corresponding month in 2009 to be 34.7 per cent ahead in year-to-date terms.

Renault, however, managed only 91 Koleos sales for the month, which was down 16.5 per cent on July 2009, and so far this year has only sold around 500 units in total – 24 per cent fewer than it was rolling out of showrooms during last year’s difficult economic climate.

The latest disappointing result came after the French marque threw in $2500 worth of free equipment, including full leather trim, for the South Korean-built Koleos in June – and on top new features and price cuts of up to $1000 for the MY2010 model released in May.

A fresh attempt to turn things around, the 4x2 Expression is unavailable with four-wheel drive or Renault’s 110kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine.

Instead, it relies on the 126kW/226Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, which is fitted standard with a six-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra $2000, a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Significantly, Renault Australia has not stripped out safety features with the lower-rung model, which is described as best in class in terms of safety credentials.

Like all other models in the range, the Koleos Expression is fitted with six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), electronic stability control and ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist. It also upholds the five-star ANCAP crash-testing rating across the Koleos range.

Renault has, however, made some significant cuts to create the new entry model.

Compared to the Dynamique model, which starts from $31,490 in 4x2 manual form, the Expression misses out on standard TomTom satellite-navigation, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, automatic headlights/wipers, leather-wrapped steering wheel/gearlever, a ‘child minder’ mirror, driver’s sunglasses holder, aluminium-look interior trim and a multi-media connection box with aux-in audio socket and USB.

It also makes do with a less sophisticated stereo and the rear-seat passengers are left without air vents, sunblinds and airline-style seatback tables.

Options such as a panoramic sunroof, quick-release flat-floor load system, multi-function centre console box and extra 12-volt power sockets are also unavailable at this level.

Externally, the Expression is identified by its black wing mirrors (not body coloured like others in the range) and 17-inch Fidji alloy wheels, which are a different design to the Oasis alloys on Dynamique. It also loses roof rails and the chrome-look front and rear skid plates.

Notwithstanding those omissions, standard features on the Expression still run to cruise control, front foglights (with a ‘see me home’ function), remote central locking (with Renault card key), Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, seven-function trip computer, electric windows, various underfloor storage compartments and body-coloured bumpers and side mouldings.

Metallic paint is an $800 option across the range, while the TomTom sat-nav introduced with the May upgrade can be ordered for an additional $1500.

For the month of August, Renault is also offering the Koleos Expression for $29,990 driveaway – for the manual version with non-metallic paint.

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