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Car reviews - Renault - Kangoo - dCi van

The Car

26 Aug 2011

RENAULT has announced the Australian release of its long-awaited new-generation Kangoo commercial van almost two years after it went on sale in Europe and a day after the launch of its most direct rival, Volkswagen’s upgraded Caddy.

The redesigned X61 Kangoo arrives just a month after all-new hatchback, coupe-cabriolet and high-performance RenaultSport versions of the French brand’s Megane small-car range were released Down Under, where Renault hopes to find 3500 customers in 2011.

In contrast to VW’s latest Caddy range, which comprises short and long-wheelbase van and people-mover derivatives, the new Kangoo is available here now in just one short-wheelbase van body style with the option of two engine/transmission options.

As such, despite being Europe’s top-selling compact van for the past 12 years with more than 1.5 million sold globally in total, Renault has far more modest sales aspirations for its latest Kangoo - a nameplate that attracted about 600 Australian buyers last year and just 44 in 2010.

This year the Caddy will find more than 1000 local homes to remain VW’s top-selling commercial vehicle here and place third behind Toyota’s HiAce and Hyundai’s iLoad in the van segment.

Both variants of the bigger, roomier and more highly specified second-generation Kangoo are priced at $24,490 plus on-road costs (or $25,990 drive-away), including a 1.6-litre petrol version with a four-speed automatic transmission or a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel available only with a five-speed manual gearbox.

In comparison, the facelifted 2011 Caddy is priced from $21,990 plus ORCs for the manual-only 63kW/160Nm 1.2-litre turbo-petrol TSI 160, while the 75kW/250Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel Caddy TDI 250 costs $26,650 plus ORCs as a manual and $29,650 with a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, which reduces fuel consumption to a low of 6.6L/100km.

The diesel-manual Kangoo is claimed to deliver best-in-class combined fuel economy of just 5.2L/100km (and average CO2 emissions of 137g/km) while offering slightly less performance than the Caddy TDI 250 at 63kW at 3750rpm and peak torque of 200Nm at 1900rpm.

The common-rail 1.5-litre diesel employs a variable-geometry turbocharger and delivers 1600 bar of injection pressure, while oil change intervals are 15,000km or one year, which ever comes first.

The petrol-auto Kangoo, meantime, returns 8.3L/100km and produces 78kW at 5750rpm and 148Nm of torque from 3750rpm, with 90 per cent of maximum torque said to be available from 2000rpm.

While all 2011 Caddy models come standard with electronic stability control, ABS brakes and twin front airbags, both 2011 Kangoo variants offer only one standard (driver’s) airbag and ABS, along with four-wheel disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA), plus seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load-limiters.

ESC/ESP is a $400 option on both Kangoo models, while a passenger airbag for the Kangoo costs a further $300 and front side airbags (also optional on the Caddy) is a $500 Kangoo option.

Other Kangoo options include automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, a right-hand side sliding door, glazing for both sliding doors, rear parking sensors, glazed tailgate with rear wiper (in place of barn doors) and a plastic sliding roof flap to accommodate tall items.

An extensive standard equipment list includes Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control with speed-limiter, air-conditioning, power front windows, powered/folding/heated body-colour door mirrors, a height adjustable steering wheel, trip computer, tinted front windows, a colour-coded front grille, foglights and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with 2x15-Watt speakers, remote steering wheel controls and an auxiliary jack.

Based on the same platform as Renault’s Scenic people-mover, which is not currently sold in Australia, the standard Kangoo van (three other derivatives are available in Europe) is 178mm longer and 102mm wider than the model it replaces, yet offers a Clio-sized 10.7-metre turning circle.

The wheelbase is almost 100mm longer than the previous model’s at 2697mm and the front and rear wheel tracks have been increased by a respective 121mm and 114mm to 1521mm and 1534mm.

While the standard Caddy van offers 3030 litres of cargo capacity, the Kangoo is almost lineball at exactly three cubic metres (up from the previous generation’s 2.75cu-m).

The diesel version can carry up to 800kg of payload (up from 530kg), while the petrol model can haul 650kg (up 120kg). Although Renault has no answer for the Caddy Maxi’s 3880-litre cargo capacity in Australia, the standard Kangoo’s payload limit is similar to the regular Caddy’s 750-850kg weight range.

The Kangoo’s overall internal load length with the passenger seat upright is 1731mm (60mm longer than the previous Kangoo), while loads of up to 1218mm wide will fit between the rear wheel-arches.

The French light commercial vehicle’s kerb-side sliding door will allow access to loads of up to 635mm wide, while the asymmetrically split rear doors open through 90 and then 180 degrees to ease entry for bulkier goods. There are six tie-down rings on the cargo bed.

Like the Scenic upon which it is based, the Kangoo – which offers an elevated driving position and driving refinement that is said to be on par with the Scenic - has MacPherson strut front suspension and (unlike the leaf-sprung Caddy rear-end) programmed deflection suspension with coil springs and anti-roll bar at the rear.

The latest Kangoo’s more stylish exterior, which is available in a range of paint colours other than white - is differentiated most noticeably by new teardrop-shaped crystal-style headlights and more pronounced wheel-arches, and its front mudguards are made from ‘noryl’, a supple composite material Renault says can absorb small knocks without a trace and is economical to repair or replace.

Inside, there is a large overhead compartment for papers, a spacious 15-litre glovebox that can hold two laptops, an A4-sized storage area on the dash, under-seat storage, a large centre console, big door pockets, tubular protection bars behind driver’s seat, front seats trimmed in hard-wearing dark cloth upholstery, a load area liner and load area lighting.

“The new Renault Kangoo is bigger, better and smarter than before,” said Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar.

“It scores highly on practicality and flexibility and is very adaptable to users’ needs, and it will build on the strong name its predecessor has already entrenched in the hearts and minds of business users in Australia.

“The new model offers a choice of efficient petrol or diesel engines, with significantly increased payload and a larger carrying capacity. The engines, especially the diesel, are extremely efficient and will reduce running costs for customers.

“Renault is the foremost supplier of light commercial vehicles in Europe and since launch in 1997 the Renault Kangoo has been the number one seller in its segment in Europe.

“When you consider the low running costs, very low emissions, car-like driving experience, ease of loading, and the opportunities to add an extra sliding side door or a roof flap for accommodating especially tall items, it becomes obvious there is no better vehicle in the market that can meet the needs of such a diverse range of businesses.

“And our three-year or 150,000km bumper-to-bumper warranty plus 24-hour roadside assistance guarantees customers complete peace-of-mind,” he said.

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Did you know?

The Kangoo’s front mudguards consist of replaceable ‘Noryl’, a supple composite material, which is able to absorb small knocks without a trace. The front end is also quick to remove to help save labour time.

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