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Driven: Kangoo Maxi Crew chases five-seat VW Caddy

On the move: The Renault Kangoo Maxi Crew can legally handle a quartet of passengers as well as cargo.

Renault’s first compact five-seater panel van vies for VW Caddy Crewvan market.

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Renault logo30 May 2014

RENAULT Australia has released five-seat passenger version of its Kangoo compact light-commercial for the first time, as it continues the rapid expansion of its local LCV line-up.

Priced from $27,990 plus on-road costs, the Kangoo Maxi Crew manual undercuts its Volkswagen Caddy Maxi TDI250 Crewvan competitor by $2500.

However the all-important automatic transmission option that has underpinned the Caddy’s success is still up to 18 months away from launch, leaving a cautious Renault to test the local market with a lone Maxi Crew dCi diesel manual variant for the time being.

That means the five-seater will only come in L2 long-wheelbase guise (dubbed ‘Maxi’ in Renault-speak), offering four doors and opening side windows, followed by an untrimmed and unglazed cargo area aft of the second row.

Nevertheless, Renault says there is additional sound deadening fitted for a quieter ride compared to the regular Kangoo Maxi.

Furthermore there are several options available, including a $1490 ‘Modular’ cargo barrier that slides rigidly into place once the rear seats are folded neatly into a flat floor cavity, $950 satellite navigation and $490 front-compartment side airbags.

Buyers can also upgrade to a $1390 Premium Pack, which brings rear parking sensors and R-Link sat-nav with an enhanced multimedia system.

As with its two-seater Kangoo Maxi sibling launched late last year with the X61 Kangoo’s Phase II facelift, the Crew’s front wheels are driven by a 1461cc 1.5-litre eight valve common-rail direct-injection four-cylinder dCi turbo-diesel, delivering 81kW of power at 4000rpm and 240Nm of torque at 1750rpm.

This is an improvement over the previous L1 SWB-only (short wheelbase) Phase 1’s 63kW/200Nm 1.5 dCi five-speed manual’s outputs.

Aided by an ECO mode that alters the pedal mapping to help save up to 10 per cent of fuel as well as a gearshift monitor, the six-speed manual-only Maxi Crew averages a 4.7 litre per 100km and 123 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions.

For now, the ageing 79kW/148Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol powerplant is reserved solely for the SWB vans, though it remains the more popular of the two engine choices because it is available with a modified four-speed automatic as well as a five-speed manual transmission.

Renault may consider adding a 1.2-litre TCe four-cylinder turbo engined models once they become available with automatic transmission.

Like all X61 Kangoos, the newcomer is based on the X84 Megane-derived J84 Scenic passenger vehicle platform, featuring electric rack and pinion steering, MacPherson strut suspension up front and a torsion beam with coil springs out back.

To refresh, last year’s facelift saw new bumpers, headlights and bonnet, as well as a concerted visual, tactile, aural and even olfactory quality improvements, in order to satisfy Mercedes-Benz, who markets a Kangoo spinoff in some markets as the Citan.

Additionally, to that end, Renault beefed up the bodyshell with increased and improved spot welding processes at the French factory that makes the Kangoo, created more aerodynamic (and thus quieter) exterior mirrors, incorporated better soundproofing behind the engine’s bulkhead and roof, fitted an ‘acoustic’ windscreen with noise-resistant film, and engineered redesigned engine mounts to reduce mechanical vibrations.

Inside the centre console has been restyled to look more contemporary, as part of a broader interior refresh.

Key Maxi length/width/height and wheelbase dimensions are 4666/1829/1836/3081mm compared to the SWB’s corresponding 4282/1829/1844/2691mm.

The Maxi Crew offers a 750kg tow weight rating, a 740kg payload and 1.3 cubic-metre load volume with the seats erect and 4.0m3 when they are folded.

Both Maxi models (two-seater van and Crew) offer an extra 384mm and 1.0m3 compared to the SWB. Similarly, the latter’s 611kg payload falls 219kg short of the 831kg available in the Maxi van. All Kangoos have a 1050kg two weight with a braked trailer.

Standard features include dual sliding side doors and 180-degree opening rear barn doors (only the SWB is available with an optional one-piece tailgate), Bluetooth phone connectivity, and capped price servicing for the first three years or 45,000km with 12-month/15,000km intervals.

Note that as an LCV, the warranty period is three and not five years as per Renault’s passenger cars and SUVs (Renault Sport excepted).

On the safety front there are dual front airbags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist, ESC electronic stability control, traction control and – on diesel only – hill-start assist, which keeps the brakes on for two additional seconds after being released to keep the Kangoo from rolling on inclines.

No Kangoo vans have been crash tested by ANCAP – though a seven-seater passenger version with a raft of upgrades achieved four stars after a Phase 1 example managed just three stars.

The Maxi Crew, meanwhile, includes 15-inch alloy wheels, climate control air-conditioning, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear fog lights, electric door mirrors, power windows, remote central locking, flat-folding 60/40 split rear seats with headrests for all, dual side sliding glazed doors, overhead storage and additional trim material inside both compartments.

“We see the new Renault Kangoo Maxi Crew providing the ideal solution for customers seeking a dual purpose vehicle,” said Renault LCV model line manager Lyndon Healey.

“The Maxi Crew can be used in a multiplicity of roles for small businesses. It is ideal for moving stock or making deliveries, but also handy as a way to move staff around through the week or provide transport at the weekend for up to five occupants while still providing 100% tax deductibility as a commercial vehicle.

“We have structured the new Kangoo range to appeal to small business owners as much as possible, and we know there are many who find a small van indispensable to running their business.

“The Maxi Crew model will extend Kangoo’s reach into the compact van market.

“We can even envisage it providing a suitable solution for retail buyers who enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle finding much appeal in the Kangoo’s practicality, and its low price.”2014 Renault Kangoo pricing*
SWB petrol$19,990
SWB petrol (a)$22,990
Maxi diesel$24,990
Maxi Crew diesel$27,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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