With a 4.0m3 load area and a standard-height roof, Maxi offers 1.0m3 more carrying space than the standard-wheelbase Kangoo and 1.7m3 more than the short-wheelbase Kangoo Compact; the smallest model in the range.
Cargo bed length is 2,100mm (400mm more than the standard Kangoo) rising to 2,900mm if you fold the passenger seat flat. Doing so boosts the load cube to 4.6m3.
Top payload capacity is 800kg, gross vehicle weight is getting on for 2.2 tonnes and the newcomer can haul a braked trailer grossing at 1,050kg. A sliding nearside load bay door is standard with an offside sliding door on offer as an option.
The front-wheel drive Maxi is available with a Euro 4 1.5-litre dCi four-cylinder eight-valve common rail diesel pumping out either 85hp or 105hp. Maximum torque is 200Nm at 1,900rpm or 240Nm at 2,000rpm respectively.
When contemplating your power choice you may care to remember that the 85hp version’s CO2 emissions are a modest 140g/km and that it returns 53.3mpg on the combined cycle. The higher horsepower engine isn’t too far behind, however, returning 146g/km and 51.4mpg.
Aside from the aforementioned offside door, extra-cost options include a Carminat TomTom satellite navigation system.
We took to the highways of southern France in an 85hp Maxi and were immediately impressed with the quality of the ride. A long wheelbase ensures that it remains stable on most road surfaces and makes it much less of a puddle-jumper than, say, its Compact stablemate.
The handling is safe and predictable too, with plenty of feedback through the steering, and noise levels are well-suppressed.
Rather less impressive is the notchy, clunky gearchange provided by the five-speed ’box; the 105hp variant gets a six-speeder. Nor do we like the peculiar handbrake lever that’s fitted to all Kangoos.
Looking rather like the shift for an automatic gearbox, it employs a horizontal bar with a button at one end to release the anchors. Renault reckons that such an arrangement imposes less of a strain on the driver’s wrist. We reckon it’s trying to be different for the sake of it.
On the positive side there’s plenty of room in the cab and a fair amount of storage space for all the bits and pieces drivers have to haul around with them. Goodies fitted to our test van included air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control, a Carminat TomTom, an offside sliding door and a full-height glazed bulkhead.
We can’t make our minds up about Maxi’s appearance. While in principle providing a long cargo bed by using a long-wheelbase platform is better than employing a shorter wheelbase and a big rear overhang, a long wheelbase — we’re talking almost 3.1m — on Kangoo doesn’t look quite right somehow. It reminds us of a stretched limo, but without the obligatory cocktail bar and shrieking girls out on a hen night.
Good to see though that Maxi is being offered as a five-seater Crew Van. A possibility for the UK is Crew Van 2, with rear seats that can be folded up completely when not in use to increase the load area.
Kangoo Van Maxi goes on sale in the UK on 4 June.
A useful addition to the Renault line-up that represents an alternative for Volkswagen Caddy Maxi customers to consider. Operators who run short-wheelbase panel vans and want to downsize may care to consider it too.