Anyone with half an eye on the machinations of the van fleet market of late will no doubt have noticed more than a few stirrings in the Renault camp.
Renault has for years been the number one best van seller across Europe but has languished pretty far down among the wines and spirits in the UK, much to the angst of the bosses in Paris.
So about a year ago the firm set out to assault the home market with an eye to increasing market share – and it looks as though the strategy is bearing fruit because so far this year, sales are up a staggering 66% and market share has risen to 4.5%.
Regular readers will also know that just last month Renault was awarded the title of Most Improved Manufacturer in the coveted Fleet Van awards.
So what exactly has been going on at Renault to cause such a stir?
Firstly, the manufacturer opened a series of Renault Pro+ centres aimed specifically at van fleet buyers.
These centres give lots of value-added extras such as free advice and longer opening hours.
Secondly, Renault has launched a series of tasty new models such as the revamped Master and Kangoo, the van on test here.
We’ll be driving the Maxi crew-cab for three months, and then it will be swapped for a smaller model for a further three-month appraisal.
Renault has been rather clever – not to mention frugal – with its fresh Kangoo.
Whereas rivals Citroën, Peugeot and Fiat are all offering two separate small vans (namely Nemo/Berlingo, Bipper/Partner and Fiorino/Doblo Cargo) Renault has simply launched one vehicle and has given it three lengths, thus making the Compact, standard and Maxi vans.
The result is that the Compact version has a massive cab in proportion to its body.
It may look a bit weird but it works well for anyone in the front.
However, that’s something for discussion in the future as our present test vehicle is about as big as they get without resorting to buying a pukka panel van.
And of the three variants it looks the best balanced to my eye.
We’ll be looking forward to exploring the wonderful practicality of this vehicle (seating for five is rare in such a small van) and we’ll also be examining if the van’s claimed fuel economy figure of 53.3 miles per gallon is actually achievable on the open road.
The problem with these mpg figures is that the vans are tested empty and on a rolling road, so putting five people and some luggage aboard and then going up and down a few hills in a strong wind will totally throw them out.
So far we are enjoying life with the Kangoo immensely.
Renault has added one of those natty TomTom units to the package that even techno-idiots like me can use without cussing, and we’ve also been treated to air-con, although at this time of the year I don’t suppose it will be used, unless to provide a bit of “turbocharging” on the screen clearing front on cold mornings.
One addition we don’t have – and one I would have liked – is a reverse parking sensor.
As I have stated before, once you get used to having these sensors, you really miss them when they suddenly aren’t there any more.