One for the road speed

Shifting an auto Koleos sometimes requires a degree of manual labour

ASH WESTERMAN

ACCORDING to Australiaís Central Agency for Protecting Us from Ourselves, powerful cars are dangerous cars. They need to be kept out of the hands of young or inexperienced drivers. A P-plater in NSW, for example, can only drive a car with less than 130kW/tonne.

Sounds fair, right? Give a P-plater a V8 or turbo and heíll wrap himself around a power pole quicker than you and your wife can be tasered for sharing a bottle of bubbly at a zero-alcohol vantage point on New Years Eve. Itís logic, people.

Years Eve. Itís logic, people.

Donít argue.

So sure, I checked my brain at the door and Iím on board. But what about not-so-fast cars?

After a few overtaking attempts in the Koleos this month, Iím thinking I would be way safer with an extra 200Nm and a CVT that didnít make it sound like thereís a Nutribullet behind the firewall.

My first experience was admittedly uphill, with a couple of teenagers on board, the excellent air-con cranking and the ventilated front seats wafting a cooling raft into my back. But the truck was labouring at 60km/h in an 80 zone, so naturally I pulled into the right lane to pass, and pinned it to the boards. Then I sat there. And sat some more.

As the Nutribullet made frantic, strained whirring sounds, the truckie glanced down with a mix of wonderment and pity, as we had ample time for eye contact. In the rearview mirror, I swear I saw an octogenarian on a Honda step-thru jammed up my clacker, shaking her gnarled little fist at me to get out of the passing lane.

Okay, Iím kidding, but not by much. The Nissan X-Trail-sourced 2.5-litre atmo four needs 4400rpm to arrive at its 226Nm point of peak twist, meaning there are not a whole lot of Newton metres in the zone you really need them. The only way to drive around this issue is to flick the shifter to the left to grab manual mode, and thankfully this forces the CVT into some semblance of gear-holding co-operation, and even gives the preferred push-to-downshift configuration. I push a lot.

On the upside, itís made my driving style ultra predictive: Iím flicking over into manual mode like a cornered ninja; Iím plucking ratios fore and aft like Iím in some speedcroupier competition in the Las Vegas Hilton.

My partner just rolls her eyes and tries to pretend sheís in a relationship with some normal, relaxed, non-journo dude, and turns up the excellent Bose audio. At least she tries to, but the fiddly plus-and-minus volume touch points on the multimedia screen occasionally attempt to thwart this. Thatís my cue to use my left hand to grab gears while my right fingers dance on the volume pod behind the steering wheel; simultaneously tweaking the rotating track-finder wheel. And get this: I steer, too, while all this is happening.

Yep, the Koleos is instilling in me mad multitasking skills I had no idea I could master.

See? Thereís always a bright side.

Radio silence

Radio silence In normal driving, Iím a DAB-rocking beast chasing maximum riffage.

But when I park, something curious happens. The Koleos assumes, on restart, that Iím a clock enthusiast who does not own a watch. Not so helpfully, it shows me the digitised rendering of Big Ben. So hereís my first-world problem: after each restart, I need to stab at the screen four times to get back to the DAB station I was enjoying before switching off.

Itís enough to make you belt out a really bad rendition of ĎWhat About Me?í The manual is no help; anyone out there have a clue?

RENAULT KOLEOS INTENS

Date acquired: December 2016 Price as tested: $44,090 This month: 1272km @ 13.2L/100km Overall: 1979km @ 13.4L/100km ac m Overall 34 3 3 WEEK 8 34 44 3 0 0 3 7 2 3 3 URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY