Since its debut in 2008, Renault’s Koleos has made significant gains in South Africa’s SUV segment, despite the relatively small market. Since then the mantle of top SUV has belonged to Korean manufacturers, namely Kia’s Sportage and Hyundai’s ix35. In 2012 Renault hopes to take on its Korean rivals with a new value offering Koleos with assertive pricing and features.The Koleos 2.5 will retail for R208 000, which is extremely competitive given its rivals positioning.NEW DESIGNThe front end of the Koleos has been redesigned with horizontal chromed bars sporting the Renault logo. The front end sports slimmer headlights, a larger grille and more assertive front bumper.I’m not sold on the design changes however as I believe they bear more than a passing resemblance to Ssangyong’s Korando. Like the new Scenic, Renault’s designers have focused on front end changes and left the rear largely unchanged. The engine range has been trimmed to one Nissan-sourced 2.5-litre petrol engine, capable of 126kW at 6000rpm and 226Nm with a torque peak of 4400rpm. The 16-valve four-cylinder engine is available in three guises - 4x2, 4x4 manual and CVT.In 4x2 configuration the suspension is capable of handling terrain suited for a soft-roader but will struggle on any tough off-road course. Hill start assist and descent control should enable you to tackle mild trails.In 4x4 guise the Koleos is able take on light to moderate terrain with ease, despite the fact that it’s a soft-roader. The 206mm ground clearance is a boon when traveling in the bundus but one shouldn’t treat the Koleos as a 4x4 workhorse due to the lack of low-range gearing or differential lock. Inside the cabin receives an updated instrumentation panel and a selection of new trim materials and upholstery, with leather trim standard.While the Koleos is slightly more expensive than the Sportage and ix35, it has loads more kit compared to the comparative spec of its rivals, at least in base 2.5 4x2 guise.Pricing2.5 Dynamique 4x2 - R289 9002.5 Dynamique 4x4 - R314 9002.5 Dynamique 4x4 CVT - R339 900A five year or 100 000km service plan and five year or 150 000km warranty, with roadside assistance, is offered as standard.