Renault Kangoo — June 2008

Date: Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Believe it or not the cheeky-looking Renault Kangoo van has been with us for over ten years and in that time Renault has managed to sell in excess of 1.4m worldwide. Now it's time for the second generation models to be unleashed.

New kangoo made its worldwide debut at the European Road Transport Show in Amsterdam last October and was unveiled to a UK audience at the British CV Show in Birmingham a couple of months ago.

The big news, however, is that this time around it will be available in a choice of two wheelbases. The shorter models will carry the Compact name and are set to go head-to-head with the recently introduced sub-compacts from Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot; the Nemo, Fiorino and Bipper respectively.

As before its bigger brother will be up against the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner, Ford Transit Connect, Fiat Dobl? Cargo, Vauxhall Combo and Volkswagen Caddy, as well as Nissan's Kubistar which is based on the outgoing Kangoo. Nissan will not, however, be offering re-badged versions of the new models, preferring instead to go its own way.

Size Matters

The second generation Kangoo has a wheelbase of 2,697mm and an overall length of 4,213mm, making it 178mm longer than its predecessor. The Compact by comparison is 3,829mm long, sitting on a 2,313mm wheelbase; that's 206mm shorter than the current model.

As far as the load area is concerned both configurations of the new Kangoo have a height of 1,130mm and a maximum width of 1,223mm (at the floor), dropping to 1,218mm between the wheel boxes.

Load length is 1,478mm, dropping to 1,094mm for the Compact, resulting in load volumes of 3.0m3 and 2.3m3 respectively. The current Kangoo falls in-between with 2.8m3.

Gross payload is 650kg to 850kg for the new Kangoo and 500kg for its smaller sibling. Rear loading heights are 609mm and 577mm respectively.

Twin side-hinged asymmetrical doors give access at the rear and there will be the option of one or two sliding side doors. Whether these are actually necessary on the Compact is debatable. Six load-tie points are provided and these can be increased by four or six, depending on model.

Various bulkheads will be offered, ranging from a basic metal full-height ladder affair behind the driver's seat to a full solid metal option. For those that occasionally need to carry lengthy items a folding passenger seat will be available, as on the current Kangoo, combined with a hinged folding mesh bulkhead.

Engines

As far as the Compact is concerned there are two diesel engine options. Both are 1.5-litre common rail units, one producing 68hp while the other is capable of 86hp. Peak torque figures are 160Nm (at 1,700rpm) and 200Nm (1,750rpm) respectively.

These are joined by a 106hp version, capable of developing 240Nm at 2,000rpm, in the full-size Kangoo. Two 1.6-litre petrol engines are offered, one 8-valve producing 87hp and one 16-valve capable of 107hp. It is not known at this time if these will be offered in the UK.

Kangoo remains front-wheel drive and all of the engines bar one take a five-speed manual gearbox. The most powerful of the diesels gets a six-speeder.

For the 'green'-minded out there in van-land Renault quotes CO2 emission figures of 140g/km and 137g/km for the 68hp and 86hp 1.5dCi diesels.

Oil change intervals are recommended as 12,000 miles for the diesels, which is disappointingly frequent, and 18,000 miles for the petrol engines.

Scenic View

New Kangoo's underpinnings are based on the same platform as the Scenic MPV and have been adapted to meet LCV requirements.

Front suspension is MacPherson strut with springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar while the rear is taken care of by a torsion beam axle arrangement.

Power steering is, of course, a standard feature on all models and is electric rather than hydraulic with 3.2 turns lock-to-lock. Renault claims that it brings a 3.5 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. The kerb-to-kerb turning circle for the Kangoo is 10.7m, reducing to an impressively low 9.7m for the Compact.

Brakes are ventilated discs on all four wheels and ABS comes as standard. ESP will be available as a cost option on selected models.

Cab Comfort

Kangoo's all-new cab has been designed specifically with work in mind. There's ample space, the gearstick is dashboard-mounted within easy reach from the steering wheel and there's bags of storage space for documents, clipboards and bottles of refreshment.

There are good-sized door pockets, A4-sized dashboard storage, an overhead full-width parcel shelf and a large 15-litre lidded glovebox.

There is one oddity on the new Kangoo and that's the handbrake lever. It's positioned conventionally between the seats, but is aviation style (L-shaped) so that the hand remains in the same plane as for changing gear, rather than having to be twisted through 90 degrees to operate it. Apparently it's the result of a request from the Danish Post Office as some of its drivers were beginning to show signs of RSI developing in their wrists through excessive use of a conventional, straight lever.

There will be two specifications offered in the UK when it goes on sale in September and these, along with the prices will be announced closer to the time.

On the Road

The second generation Kangoo is a doddle to drive in either short- or long-wheelbase. The 68hp and 86hp diesels are well up to the job, with more than adequate torque.

The ride is noticeably smoother on the full-size Kangoo, but this is to be expected as the Compact's wheelbase is significantly shorter.

The windscreen appears to be a long way from the driver in both versions, MPV-style, but this adds to the feeling of space. The odd-shaped handbrake feels a bit strange to begin with, but feels perfectly natural after a couple of applications and actually makes a lot of sense.

Braking is exemplary, but the same cannot be said of the steering. The electric power steering system endows it with a lack of feel which is a bit disconcerting to begin with. It's not dangerous, it just takes a while to become accustomed to it.

?    VERDICT
?    The new Kangoo feels a much more solidly built vehicle than the current one. The fit and finish of the cab has improved, the engines are tried and tested and the fact that there are two distinct sizes available is bound to increase its appeal. We look forward to getting our hands on right-hand drive versions later on in the year.



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