It’s not until you climb aboard an electric vehicle and glide off down the road that you appreciate just how smooth, quiet and efficient they are.
There are doubts over the future of electric power, mainly due to price and range limitations, but whatever the practicalities, everyone will love the driving experience.
Turn the key of the Renault Kangoo ZE and all that happens is that a few lights start winking on the dashboard. Put the gear lever in drive (it’s similar to an automatic), dab your foot on the accelerator and your vehicle surges forward, totally silently and at a surprising pace.
Being an electric motor, maximum torque is available from 0mph, so it initially feels like this van is flying, despite on paper there being only the equivalent of 60bhp on tap.
With most mileage likely to be stop-start in urban areas, the more relevant 0-31mph time comes in a spritely five seconds, although the 0-62mph time is a rather more sluggish 20 seconds.
We tried both standard and Maxi versions and both impressed. It’s not just the smoothness of this van but, as the batteries are slung under the floor with their 280kg weight low down, road handling is not compromised.
The Kangoo features an Eco button which restricts torque and speed to boost range by up to 10% (maximum range is 106 miles). In town there was no noticeable drop in performance.
However, on the open road the Kangoo felt sluggish and I ended up sticking my foot to the floor, over-riding the ECO mode.
Electric vans have to be driven differently from diesels to get maximum efficiency and that’s where the Econometer, which tells you how much energy is being used, comes in handy. By keeping an eye on whether it was leaning towards dark blue (optimum) or red (high usage), I soon got the hang of economy motoring.
Renault has opted for to lease the battery separately to the vehicle, which changes the funding dynamics. With vans prices starting at £16,900, the battery lease adds £85 a month. Glass’s has given this approach its blessing by setting an impressive 45.7% three-year residual value.
I came on this launch an EV sceptic but left with a huge amount of respect for this Renault Kangoo proposition.
By Trevor Gelken