Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

There's a straight choice between 150bhp and 175bhp dCi 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines, though the more powerful unit is only available in the top spec Koleos. The 150bhp makes most sense in front-wheel drive-only form. This Koleos offers performance that is only fractionally slower from 0-62mph than the 175bhp model yet has lower CO2 emissions and the best fuel economy of the range.

There's a delay in the delivery of the engine's low-rev shove until 2000rpm is registered on the rev counter, which makes it all too easy to stall the Koleos and it sometimes requires first gear for slow speed manoeuvring where most 4x4s manage in second gear. The six-speed manual gearbox lends itself to the car's relaxed nature, but it has a slow, imprecise action.

There's also an automatic gearbox option, but it's only available with all-wheel drive models and not the 175bhp engine. Renault has no plans to introduce petrol engines as the bulk of sales in this sector are diesel-powered.

Like the Nissan X-Trail it's based on, the Renault Koleos errs on the side of comfort rather than any great driving pleasure. The steering is light to make parking and town driving easy and it has a decently tight turning circle for a 4x4. At higher speeds, the steering is not as accurate as a Toyota RAV4's, but motorway trips are relaxed. Long journeys are made all the more pleasurable thanks to a smooth, absorbent ride that makes short work of bumpy roads or even off-road tracks.

It can be a shade firm at low speeds, but this is compensated for by the Koleos containing lean in corners better than most small 4x4s. There's plenty of grip in corners and the four-wheel drive system can be switched to an automatic mode, where power is sent to the rear wheels if the front tyres begin to relinquish their hold on the road. Even so, the Koleos is not a sporty 4x4 and it can travel a little further off the beaten track than most of the competition, though it's not a serious off-roader by any means even if Hill Descent Control is an option.