Introduced to the market in 2004, the Kangoo is an extremely popular panel van and leisure activity vehicle that has a rounded, almost bubble-like appearance and can be used for a plethora of business applications.
While the Kangoo possesses none of the speed that its marsupial-inspired name might suggest, the van has won a series of critical plaudits, particularly for its driveability and user-friendliness, compounded by its lightweight sliding doors that facilitate easy loading. The Kangoo is also extremely economical in terms of fuel consumption.
The Kangoo is currently available in 5 variants, with 2 diesel engines, one of which is paired with a manual 6-speed gearbox and the other with a manual 5-speed gearbox. Two petrol engines are paired with an automatic 4-speed gearbox and a 5-speed manual gearbox. In 2011, the electric Kangoo known as the ZE was released, voted International Van of the Year 2012.
The 1.5L diesel turbo fuel injection engine is arguably the jewel in the crown of the traditional fuel-based Kangoo models, despite its low speed out of the blocks, reaching 0-100km/h in 19.6 seconds with an output of 63kW at 3750rpm. It is also noisy at speed. However, this diesel van has plenty of torque, with 200Nm at 1900rpm, duly minimising lag, no doubt enhanced by the turbocharger. This 15.L diesel is nonetheless easy to drive even at speed on the highway, with responsive steering, which is evenly weighted for accuracy.
Indeed, ride quality is great across the entire range, a quality which is very much enhanced by excellent forward visibility, aided by adjustable seats which naturally sit higher than most other vehicles.
Manoeuvrability is also exceptional. The Kangoo has a turning circle of 10.7m, which further adds to its usefulness as a delivery vehicle that would potentially need to move in and out of tight loading areas.
The great thing about every Kangoo vehicle is the incredible fuel economy. The diesel has a combined fuel consumption of 5.2L/100km. Even when the loading cabin is full of heavy goods and being pushed to its limits, the Kangoo never uses more than 6.4L/100km, which is very impressive. Power comes from the 22kw/h lithium-ion battery pack, which will power the vehicle for as much as 170km, depending on the type of road upon which the vehicle is travelling, temperature, speed and driving style. When one considers that recharging the Kangoo ZE’s battery will cost as little as $2.50, one cannot fail to see the savings that could be saved on fuel.
The electric Kangoo ZE uses a synchronous electric with a rotor coil and has an output of 44kW at 10,500rpm and a maximum torque of 226Nm. With a top speed of 130km/h, the ZE is – like its fuel-based brethren - is not exactly fast.
The disc brakes found on the front and rear of all models are also very good, with the ABS (anti-lock braking system), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and EBA (emergency brake assist) giving added safety advantages to the driver.
Standard kit includes Bluetooth connectivity, cruise-control, electric ‘power’ windows, as well as heated folding wing mirrors, HVAC air-conditioning, an RCA auxiliary jack that will facilitate mp3 compatibility, CD player, tinted front windows and fog lights. Optional extras include integrated satnav that comes courtesy of TomTom, which although clearly very useful, requires that one uses a remote control to input information.
When referring to the Kangoo’s standard kit, one must reserve mention for the sliding doors that open with minimal force applied and have a wide aperture, which will accommodate boxes up to 635mm wide. The mechanism on these sliding doors is also very robust, which, of course, is necessary considering that in its capacity as a delivery vehicle it could require opening at least 50 times in a single day.
The panel van market is a highly competitive one and the Renault Kangoo is arguably the best of the bunch. Citroen’s Berlingo MPV is quieter and has an attractive fabric interior compared to the less plush, plastic interior of the Kangoo. Some have also argued that the top-of-the-line Berlingo is $1000 cheaper than the top-of-the-line Kangoo, and therefore, the Berlingo offers better value for money. The fuel economy of the Kangoo is second to none, and this will surely more than make up for the extra initial cost.
The long list of standard features, coupled with an impressive array of options and incredible reliability, driveability, and loading space, make the Kangoo a solid purchase.