So Deon arrives with the new Renault SUV (the petrol 6-gear manual one). Definitely not a chick mobile. He shows me the basics very quickly – key card, stop/start button, automatic handbrake, sound system deluxe – and he’s off.
I have nervous 2 minutes where I try to reverse, but car keeps on moving forwards instead of backwards. 25 cm from the wall. Try to get car in reverse. 18 cm from the wall. Try again. 14 cm from the wall. Okay, sweating now. Try again. 8 cm from the wall. Consider just leaving the car there and/or crying actual tears.
Remember Fiat Palio's reverse gear. Put car in reverse. Pull away from the wall in one smooth, powerful movement and drive away feeling ridiculously triumphant.
I think I might even have clapped hands.
Sound system is fantastic. Drive around town listening to Fiddy. Feel like a gansta and loving it. Notice that three adults can easily share the back seat. Easily.
Less comfortable is my pounding heart because I have very nervous time negotiating the quaint little Tamboerskloof streets where I live. Don't get me wrong, at 4.52m long and 1.85m wide the Koleos is a small SUV but still. Our neighborhood's streets are very narrow and it is a 2.5 liter engine after all.
On the plus side, the big doors and split rear tailgate will make packing for a family holiday a breeze. I find out the model I'm driving sells at about R285 000. Which might be a bit steep if you've been burned by Renault's poor after care service, but hey, they said they're improving and word on the street is already quite positive.
Drive back from the airport. Vroooooom. You see, the French boys at Renault cleverly used their partner, Nissan's platform. And then they asked the boys at Samsung, Korea to build it. So you basically have an X-trail, with zee French curves and Korean manufacturing. Vroom indeed.
My buddy, Wilmer Muller, who is the Editor of Wheels24 is impressed by the practicality of the Koleos. Read why here. I think it's a pretty car, although Wilmer does not necessarily agree. This is what he has to say:
"It's arguably the ugliest SUV (well, except for some Chinese wannabes) in SA. However, don't judge a book by its cover... The Koleos is quite a mighty SUV thanks to its Nissan genes (of course). However, it has a tough task ahead of it as the Koleos battles it out in one of the most competitive segments squaring-off against the VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV4 and the impressive Honda CR-V. But it's probably currently the best Renault product on the market and a more than capable rival in the small SUV segment. And if you are in the market for one of these politically incorrect vehicles, it is worth the effort to go test drive a Koleos (despite its looks)."
My personality is slowly changing. Am feeling decidedly superior to the other ants on the road in their tiny little tin cars. I am invincible. I look down on everyone. My enormous engine revs and I feel smug, important and sexy. What am I becoming?
When the guys came to fetch the Koleos I nearly growled at them. Really didn't want to give it up.
Now I'm back in little Smartypants. Am feeling equal amounts of shame and relief.
*Disclaimer: I think I should state that I'm not very objective (although if you don't know that yet, you've obviously never read anything I've written before). Thing is, I hate 4x4's. I think it's stupid, irresponsible and unsustainable to buy and drive such a big car while the environment is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. Also, the fact that no-one behind you can see past your behemoth makes sharing the streets with you an unpleasant experience. And 4x4 drivers, if you insist on driving such a big car, then for the love of God, learn how to park, okay? That said, I think the Koleos is Renault's best offering thus far.
Have you driven, or do you own, a Renault Koleos? How's the drive? Share your thoughts in the box below.