First Drive: Renault Kangoo Maxi Crew Van

Date: Friday, February 28, 2014   |   Author: James Dallas

Renault launched a facelifted range of Kangoo vans in the UK in July this year and in the process took the opportunity to add the 110hp version of its 1.5-litre dCi engine to the line-up.

The manufacturer introduced this drivetrain on the Megane passenger car, and in the 110hp Kangoo it comes wedded to a six-speed manual gearbox as opposed to the 75hp and 90hp vans, which make do with a five-speed ’box.

We tested the 110hp engine in a Kangoo Maxi LL21 Crew Van Sport. The model comes with a three-person rear bench seat to accommodate a team of workers or family members if it’s serving as a private as well as a business vehicle.

There’s an impressive amount of legroom in the back, but the unglazed side panels could leave some passengers feeling a touch claustrophobic. Sliding doors on both sides of the van give access to the rear seats.

The engine provides plenty of power and works harmoniously with the six-speed transmission. We found the Maxi to be equally at home when negotiating tight city streets requiring frequent gear changes or when bowling along dual-carriageways, where it imparts the sense of having more than enough muscle in reserve to cope with a full payload of 740kg if called upon. The vehicle we tested was equipped with cruise control and a speed limiter, costing a combined £240, all prices exclude VAT, but the option makes sense on the most powerful 110hp Kangoo Van, which is likely to be chosen by operators covering longer distances.

The 1.3m3 load bay is accessed via unglazed asymmetrical rear doors, which open through to 180 degrees and is separated from the second row of passenger seats by a fixed grille bulkhead – a £180 option, otherwise you get the standard tubular fit. There are eight load anchorage points in the back and the Sport version we drove also comes with a tough rubber floor covering, which has the added bonus of being easy to sweep out after unloading. For longer items, such as ladders or pipes, a roof bar and rack fixings are fitted.

Side protection mouldings reduce the risk of minor damage to the exterior of the van, and 15-inch steel rimmed wheels should prove to be fairly scuff-resistant.

The Sport’s cab gets the Renault R-Link system as standard. This allows remote control of all multimedia functions (satnav, radio, iPods, USBs, Bluetooth). If you opt for a lower-trim Debut or Core spec, the R-Link package will set you back £810.

The Sport also has an Eco Mode function, activated by a button on the dash, which Renault claims cuts fuel consumption by 10% through sedating acceleration and reducing engine torque. It also triggers the gearshift indicator earlier.

The dashboard is well laid out with chunky, easy-to-use controls and a screen that clearly displays the navigation and radio settings.

The driver’s seat is slightly high, but supportive and comfortable, and the steering wheel adjustable for height only, but the Maxi Sport is sure-footed and handles well, and Renault generally has made a good fist of imparting car-like driving characteristics to the van. Our vehicle had ESC but it came as a £420 option together with Hill Start Assist and Grip Xtend

Official fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 60.1mpg – dropping to 54.3mpg for urban driving. We tested the van predominantly in the city and, according to the in-cab display, averaged 43.5mpg, which is respectable if not spectacularly frugal.

 

Verdict

A competent and accomplished van that marks a step-up compared with its predecessor.

 

 



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