Earlier this week, Wheels24 ran an article on the Renault Koleos possibly being fitted with a diesel engine. By the time of publishing the article, Renault had not yet answered our questions. Now they have.
The French automaker's response to the questions posed makes for interesting reading, and leaves one pondering on the feasibility of what could/should have been.
For background: Renault’s local Koleos range consists of three models, all powered by the same naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine. The Expression model acts as an entry to the range, while two Dynamique models complete it. The more expensive model in the range is also the only one fitted with a 4WD system.
READ: Why Renault needs to debut this engine in its Koleos SUV
In our initial article, we argued that if the Koleos had to make do with the turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel engine found in the Duster, Renault could market the ‘new’ model as a fuel-efficient alternative. And maybe even bring it to market as the new entry-level model to the Koleos range.
2020 Renault Koleos. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
The Koleos is the largest SUV in Renault’s arsenal and comes up against competition like the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota Rav4. With a starting price of R409 900, the Expression model does duty against the X-Trail 2.0 Visia (R409 900) and Rav4 2.0 GX (R445 600). Yes, its rivals may have smaller, naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engines kicking off the range, but the Koleos offers roughly the same (or better) specification for the same (or less) money.
The higher-grade Dynamique 4WD compares even better to its rivals.
Bar the X-Trail with its Renault-sourced 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine, the rivals also offer a 2.5-litre petrol engine, the same as the Koleos. In this regard, Renault deemed it necessary only to offer this engine in its Koleos to keep it inline with the competition, saying: "For now we opted for petrol only, as most of the segment sales are petrol."
Also, Renault’s unit, when compared to the 2.0-litre engines used by rivals, offers more torque and a higher top speed. On paper, at least.
How will price be affected?
One of the more critical questions raised in the initial article was whether or not Renault would have to adjust the Koleos’ engine bay to accommodate the Duster’s diesel engine. In short, no. According to Renault, "the Koleos is compatible with both petrol and diesel engines"; hence making it compatible with the Duster’s unit.
But implementing a diesel engine would increase the Koleos’ price. Renault says that a diesel model will have a higher price point as the diesel engine is more expensive. Looking at the X-Trail fitted with the diesel engine - which is built in collaboration by Renault, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz - it has a starting price of R436 300. Even if Renault were to use either of the two diesel engines mentioned in this article, one could expect the Koleos diesel to carry a price tag similar to that of the Nissan.
Even though the top-spec Duster (with the diesel engine) is priced lower than the Koleos, Renault stresses that the two SUVs are competing in two different segments. Further affecting the price is where each SUV is built. If Renault were to import the Duster’s diesel engine, it would have to ship the engine from Romania to South Korea where the Koleos is assembled; further impacting the Koleos’ price.
2020 Renault Duster. Image: QuickPic
While it would have been an excellent venture for Renault to go down this route, it is just not feasible for the automaker to do so. On paper, a diesel-powered Koleos would have done wonders for the manufacturer and could, perhaps, have been a top seller for the brand.
But there are too many variables at stake that can hurt the Koleos range and its pricing so it’s just not viable for Renault to take that chance. And while we respect the automaker’s decision, one can only hope for the range’s expansion in the future.