The annual Knysna Hillclimb has morphed into a Speed Week and, as it’s grown, has attracted headline sponsorship from Renault. It’s been Renault’s habit to combine the high-octane razzmatazz with a new-model introduction. Or, as in this case, three of them.
The big news about the Scenic is the introduction of a 1,6-litre diesel to replace the 1,9. Our run at the wheel was all too brief, fortunately with a couple of testing climbs thrown in, but even that short spell was enough to persuade us that the new engine’s lusty torque delivery seems well suited to the Scenic’s fairly hefty body. Economy seems great, too. All in all, a worthy alternative and a worthwhile upgrade from the existing 1,9. The all-new 1.6 dCi turbodiesel is the first of a series of Renault Energy engines to be introduced here. You’d hardly think it, but like its fl ashier high-performance stablemates it, too, has benefited from the company’s F1 experience.
Its tech features include six cuttingedge CO2 technologies, including a Stop-and-Start system combined with deceleration/regenerative braking, and boasting a raft of patents.
According to Renault, the 1.6 dCi Energy is the world’s most powerful engine of its size. Peak outputs are 96 kW and 320 N.m at 1 750 r/min (20 N.m more the 19 dCi it replaces. Combined-cycle fuel consumption is 4,4 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions are just 114 g/km. That’s impressive.
At the top end, Renault has introduced a 110 kW 2.0 dCi on the Grand Scenic Bose Edition, with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Bose in the title refers to the premium sound system specially developed for this model, which also features park distance control incorporating a rear-view camera, Xenon headlights, and an athermal and acoustic windscreen.
New technologies standard across the range include Hill Start Assist, which is linked to the electronic stability programme. Price: R324 900 (1,6 dCi) and R379 900 (2,0).
While the competitors were preparing to hammer away at each other up Simola hill, we were rumbling down it in the latest edition of an SUV that has made people sit up and take notice. Headline news for the 2012 Koleos is new styling, smart tech for more safety and convenience, 4×2 or 4×4 drive and a simplified range with only a 126 kW 2,5-litre petrol engine available.
It was, in fact, our first ride in a Koleos and if first impressions are anything to go by the Koleos fans have good reason to be enthusiastic. The car’s supple, composed ride at speed on the rutted, muddy dirt roads in Knysna’s hinterland was superb. With all driver aids engaged, it gamely stuck to the chosen line and resolutely resisted attempts to unstick the rear end – well, mostly, until I managed to get it horribly sideways coming out of a greasy bend.
As well as being a superbly capable machine, the Koleos is also highly practical. There’s all of 70 dm3 of stowage incorporated into the dashboard and the centre console, together with under-seat and floor compartments, as well as a 28-litre underfloor storage compartment. Naturally, there’s a list of standard features as long as your arm.
Should you need to go actually off-road, you’ll be pleased to know that the new Koleos boasts ground clearance of 206 mm and all-wheel drive that can be operated in Auto, 4×4 Lock or 2WD mode. All 4X4 derivatives also come standard with
Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC).
In short, in conditions ideally matched to a soft-roader’s abilities, the Koleos is totally confi dence-inspiring. Hey, these days it’s even good-looking.
Prices start at R289 900 including a 5-year/100 000 km service plan.
The sinuous forest roads around Knysna are somewhat reminiscent of the fabled Nurburgring, which seemed appropriate, given the Megane RS Trophy’s recent giantslaying effort on the ring. By circulating in a front-wheel-drive record 8:07,97, the RS has outpaced some pretty exotic machinery.
To be honest, there was no real opportunity to stretch Renault’s hottest hatches beyond dragging down Plettenberg Bay airport’s runway.
The RS engine, said to be derived directly from Renault’s Formula One involvement, churns out a massive 195 kW (the SI equivalent of the 265 horsepower referred to in the car’s full name of RS Trophy 265). It’s a revision of the existing 184 kW 2,0-litre unit – mainly involving a higher boost pressure of 2,5 bar and a new air intake design. Even so, it’s more economical than the 2010 Megane RS 250.
The new engine is due to be spread across the regular Mégane RS range, including the Sport and Cup. In the Trophy 265, the performance-oriented Cup chassis is standard, matched to a limited slip differential and unique Formula One-inspired Bridgestone Potenza RE050A asymmetric 19-inch tyres. Performance? Thought you’d never ask: 0-100 km/h in 6,0 seconds and a top speed of 254 km/h.
Prices: RS Trophy R409 900; RS Cup R399 900; RS Sport R359 900.
Wallpaper: See New on the block (July 2012 issue)for wallpaper images of the Megane RS.