Something rather curious is happening in the world of small vans – they are getting much, much bigger.
It started with the Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner, which grew considerably in stature when new versions were launched last year. To fill in the gap underneath, both manufacturers launched a brand new model – the Nemo (see page 16)and Bipper – which opened up a new sector – urban delivery van.
In retaliation, Renault has launched two new Kangoos – but instead of designing two completely different vehicles, the French company has pulled off rather a neat trick. It has launched the new Kangoo and simply hacked a bit off the back end to make the Kangoo Compact – a rival for the Nemo and Bipper.
What this means is that while load volume is restricted to 2.3 cubic metres, the cab seems enormous. Crafty or what?
Under the bonnet there’s a choice of a 1.6-litre petrol engine offering 90bhp or 1.5-litre dCi common rail diesel units with either 70bhp or 90bhp.
Our test model featured the lower-powered diesel unit, which promises fuel consumption on the combined cycle at 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km – worse on both counts than the Nemo/Bipper.
In the rear, the load area is completely enclosed unless optional glazed rear windows and tubular bulkhead are selected. Payload on all models is 500kg.
Behind the wheel
Comparisons will always be made between this van and the Citroën Nemo/Peugeot Bipper as all three models go head-to-head with each other. So it was rather handy that during my week with the Kangoo Compact, I also had a Nemo parked on my driveway.
Compared with the Nemo, the cab in the Kangoo Compact seems massive. The windscreen is placed well forward of the driver, and the impression is that you are at the helm of a much bigger van than you really are.
Although this van looks bigger when parked next to the Nemo, it actually has a smaller payload (500kg to 610kg) and a smaller load area (2.3 cu m to 2.5 cu m).
On the road, the Kangoo Compact feels heavier than the Nemo/Bipper and it can’t be thrown about round corners with quite so much gusto.
Engine-wise, the Kangoo Compact is a delight to drive with a powerplant that’s smooth, refined and lusty too, although a tad on the noisy side.
With sales of LCVs dropping like a stone at present, we’re going to see a bitter sales battle this year. In the end, a buying choice between Kangoo Compact, Nemo and Bipper could well boil down to whoever gives the biggest discounts.