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Auto delay for Renault Kangoo diesel

Lucky seven: A seven-seat version of the Renault Kangoo is not on the cards for Australia as yet, but could be looked at again down the track.

Renault’s refreshed Kangoo LCV won’t have a diesel auto option until later next year

2 Jun 2014

THE Renault Kangoo will have to do battle against the top-selling Volkswagen Caddy without its full, line-up following an 18-month delay on an automatic transmission for the diesel variants.

The French car-maker last week launched long-wheelbase Maxi van and Maxi Crew five-seat variants in petrol and diesel guise, but minus a self-shifter for the oil-burner.

While the Kangoo’s market appeal has been boosted significantly with the release of the Phase II facelift late last year as well as the addition of the long-wheelbase variants last month, Renault admits the lack of a diesel automatic will stymie their impact in Australia.

“Unfortunately the diesel automatic is still between 12 and 18 months away,” Renault Australia’s LCV model line manager, Lyndon Healey, revealed to GoAuto at the Maxi Crew launch in Melbourne last week.

“That is when we expect the Kangoo will really make a difference against the competition.” With the DSG dual-clutch transmission option accounting for over 60 per cent of total Caddy volume, Renault says it is being realistic about how much headway is possible against the best-selling German LCV.

The only Kangoo automatic on offer right now is the L1 short-wheelbase version fitted with an ageing 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels via an outmoded four-speed torque-converter gearbox.

It is understood that Renault’s dCi turbo-diesel engine variant is being developed with the company’s own EDC Efficient Dual Clutch transmission to minimise fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions – a crucial selling point in Europe – rather than the old four-speed automatic.

Additionally, Mr. Healey hinted that dCi EDC availability opens up the possibility of a seven-seater passenger vehicle Maxi variant to take on the long-established Caddy Life equivalent. “If we do decide to bring in the seven-seater Kangoo we would wait for the right engine and transmission combination,” he told GoAuto.

Meanwhile, Renault Australia will also consider importing the 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine (a variation of the one found in the base Megane small car) when it also becomes available with the EDC transmission.

Though currently offered in as the TCe 115 manual, it was rejected on the grounds that the lack of automatic transmission would keep punters away in Australia and the existing 1.6-litre atmo petrol unit could be brought in for thousands of dollars less in a very price-sensitive market.

Driven by the new Phase II look and lower-price campaigns, Kangoo sales are up by 60 per cent year-on-year, rising some six percentage points to 15.1 per cent (147 units) for the first third of 2014 to reel in the ageing Suzuki APV on 17 per cent (165 units).

Both seem to have been boosted by the flagging fortunes of the Caddy, which is down 20 per cent to a still-commanding 57.9 per cent share (562 units) of the sub-2.5 tonne LCV market.

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