When a car company realises it's on to a good thing you can bet it will be talking to the factory to see if it can offer more, more, more. Or, in Renault's case, a little bit more.

Since its New Zealand relaunch, Renault's hero model has been the Koleos SUV, a package of French flair around Nissan X-Trail mechanicals and built in Korea by Renault Samsung Motors.

Right now it's leading the Megane car, the one you'd think would be the volume seller, by a considerable margin.

To keep interest high, Renault has introduced what it is calling the Phase 2 Koleos, their way of saying a mild facelift. Among changes on the 2.5-litre petrol version Driven has been driving are minor bodywork adjustments, different alloys, reversing sensors and carbon fibre-look dash trim features.


On their own perhaps not enough to quicken the pulse, but add them to the goodies already on board and here's a compact five-seat SUV that represents outstanding value at $43,990.

The value is enhanced by an integrated TomTom satnav and handsome leather seats with heating. These options-list seats appeared as a Bottom line:

Japanese heart, French body, Korean factory. Koleos transcends its confused heritage to be a well balanced and captivating compact SUV.freebie when the Koleos was introduced here and have appealed to so many buyers that they're now standard - though officially still a no-cost option.

Other goodies include 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/60 R17 tyres, cruise control, speed limiter, dual-zone climate air-conditioning, roof rails, front fog lamps, automatic headlights and wipers.

Other nice touches are retractable sun blinds in the rear doors, lots of clever stowage and the "child minder mirror" that folds from the roof to provide a panoramic view of what the kids are up to.

The back is notable for a split-opening clamshell tailgate, an arrangement popular on such vehicles as the expensive Range Rover. Foldout airline-type tables on the backs of the front seats are a nice touch, especially for kids.

If this isn't quite the Koleos you want, ask about the 2WD petrol versions or the 2-litre automatic diesel, which has almost 100Nm more torque than the petrol and has an automatic transmission with actual gears rather then the CVT auto on the petrol model.

The petrol Koleos is powered by a 2248cc 126kW motor producing 226Nm of torque at 4000rpm and Renault recommends you feed it from the premium-grade pump. It emits 228 g/km of CO2 a kilometre.

Although lacking the ground clearance and gearing for serious off-roading, Koleos maintains considerable poise on rutted logging tracks and boggy paddocks. Clearance is just over 200mm

The 4WD version can be driven in 2WD on the highway, or left in automatic 4WD, which sends drive to the rear wheels as required.

Despite not being as sporty as its body lines suggest, Koleos is lively enough and provides both relaxing long-distance transport and low-stress suburban running-around. I usually prefer my SUVs a bit "meatier" than the Koleos but enjoyed driving it so much that I was trying to think of excuses for keeping it longer.