In the UK, the Renault Kangoo has been somewhat overshadowed by the Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner since its launch in 1997.
But it would be wrong to think of this van as inferior to its PSA rivals – look at the bigger picture and a very different pattern emerges.
Across Europe, the Kangoo is market leader in the sector and indeed for the past 10 years Renault has been number one seller of LCVs.
In all, some 1.4 million Kangoos have been sold worldwide.
This year is truly the year of the small van.
There’s a new Volkswagen Caddy Maxi, a new Citroën Nemo, Peugeot Bipper, Fiat Fiorino (the same van with different badges) and a completely fresh Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner.
In September, the brand new Renault Kangoo joins the fray, along with a new smaller brother the Kangoo Compact.
It’s easy to see potential buyers becoming VERY confused.
New Kangoo is based on the Scenic platform and offers a fresh design inside and out, more loadspace and better drivability.
In the cab, there’s a light airy MPV-style ambience and stowage space has been increased with a 15-litre glove compartment, side door bins and an overhead shelf, along with a shelf for A4 documents on top of the dash.
Multimedia connectivity with Bluetooth capabilities will be available along with a wealth of extras from the car world, such as cruise control, speed limiter, parking sensors and automatic headlamp and wiper activation.
In the rear of the Kangoo, there is 3.0 cubic metres of cargo space available, up from 2.75cu m in the old model, and this rises to 3.5cu m when a special fold-down passenger seat is specified.
The width between the arches is 1.21 metres, which means a Europallet can be carried.
Renault has pulled off a neat trick with the Kangoo Compact insofar as width and height stay the same as with the longer model.
Load volume reduces to 2.5 cu m but a Europallet can still be carried.
As it’s only length that has diminished, that means the cab in both models is the same size, unlike with the PSA offerings. Citroën and Peugeot’s smaller van, the Nemo and Bipper, have smaller cabs than their bigger brothers the Berlingo and Partner.
Mind you, those vans offer between 3.3cu m and 3.7cu m of loadspace, which the Kangoo can’t match. How confusing can things get?
Under the bonnet, Kangoo has either a 1.5dCi common rail turbodiesel unit offering 70bhp, 85bhp or 105bhp or a 1.6-litre petrol unit offering either 90bhp or 105bhp.
Meanwhile Kangoo Compact has the 1.5dCi unit offering 70bhp or 85bhp or the 1.6 petrol with 90bhp.
The Compact is very much built for urban use and has an amazing turning circle of 9.7 metres, which is less than for the petite Twingo car.
British spec has yet to be unveiled but expect ABS brakes and driver’s airbag as standard, while ESP traction control will be available as an added extra on higher-powered models.
Prices will be revealed nearer to launch date in September.
Behind the wheel
This year is not only a leap year, it’s a quantum leap year too. Just as the recently-launched Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot Partner was a quantum leap forward over the old model, so is the new Kangoo and Kangoo Compact.
These vans are all so good that I’m going to have to reach for the Boy’s Book of Superlatives soon to find some new words to describe them.