Despite being launched in 1995 and performing consistently well ever since, we have always felt that, somehow, the Renault Kangoo never really received the credit it deserved.
Citroën launched the rival Berlingo – also badged as the Peugeot Partner – at the same time and this formidable duo always seemed to snatch the honours when they were up for grabs.
The Kangoo has had several relaunches since those early days and received a much-needed filip in 2012 when Mercedes-Benz rebadged it as the Citan, adding several upgrades. Basking in the reflected light of this new deal, and offering several additions for 2016, the Kangoo now looks an even better bet for UK commercial fleets.
For 2016, Renault is offering Business and Business+ models, aimed at fleets, and our test van is the higher spec one, offering such goodies as a centre console with armrest, overhead parcel shelf, rubber load floor, air-con, wheel stylers and rear parking sensors, along with the usual standard items.
The van’s basic price of £14,700 looks good against the rival Berlingo 1.6HDi Enterprise (£15,677), but a glance at the spec sheet showed that our test model had no less than £3,400 worth of extras on it, some of which are standard on the Berlingo. The TomTom sat-nav unit, for example, was part of a £675 multi-media pack, whereas Citroën offers a natty Teletrac sat-nav and stolen vehicle tracking unit as standard. Among other extras we noted were climate control at an eye-popping £900 and metallic paint at £400.
Under the bonnet is Renault’s tried and trusted 1.5-litre dCi diesel powerplant, offering 90hp, a very creditable 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 110g/km, although the engine is Euro 5 so will be outdated when Euro 6 emissions standards become the legal norm in September. Fleets should expect a price hike when this happens which, together with the addition of an AdBlue tank, will most likely make the older performer cheaper to run in the longer term.
We certainly have no complaints about the safety credentials of the Kangoo. While electronic stability control and ABS are now a legal requirement, this van also gets as standard a full steel bulkhead, height adjustable seatbelts, hill-start assist and Renault’s advanced traction control system Grip Xtend. There is also added security for the Kangoo, which now boasts remote central locking, an electronic immobiliser and Renault’s anti intruder device.
In the back, our test van had two side sliding doors, one of which turned out to be an extra at £230, and ply-lining at £80, which is a must if the cargo area is going to be subjected to any serious wear-and-tear. There were no complaints, either, about the van’s general demeanour on the road. Gearchanges are slick and sure, ride is comfortable and the seats are supportive, with plenty of side and lumbar packing. There is also plenty of power for fleet purposes, although we were surprised there were only five gear cogs to play with.
The addition of an eco button is a great boon. It slightly cuts down on torque but adds around 7% to fuel economy. Being keen environmentalists, we pressed the button in and left it there all week, without any complaints at all about shortage of power.
Meanwhile, the standard stop-start system also boosts that high fuel economy figure, helping to make this van an incredibly frugal vehicle to run.
The additions for 2016 will help reddress the balance between the Kangoo and rivals Berlingo and Partner, but we would have liked to see that sat-nav unit as a standard fitting.