Renault and PSA Peugeot-Citroën squared up last year, as both French manufacturers battled to see who could bring their new small van to market first. As far as the UK was concerned, the Kangoo had always been the lesser product – it always lacked the appeal and originality of the original Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner
But if anything, Renault has turned the tables on its French rivals. While the latest Berlingo and Partner have obvious appeal in the light van sector and are significantly better than their predecessors, it’s Renault that has imbued the Kangoo with the kind of cheeky charm that it lacked before. It has that soft-riding, laid-back approach to the life of a delivery vehicle that small French vans introduced in the 1950s.
Character may not cut much ice with the hardnosed, Excel-addicted, bean counters who dominate van buying now, but it’s good to know that it’s alive and well. Power for the Kangoo comes from Renault’s longserving 1.5-litre dCi diesel, with power outputs of 67bhp, 84bhp and 105bhp (badged 70, 85 and 105 respectively). There are a couple of 1.6-litre petrol engines too, one available with automatic transmission, but these will account for a small proportion of sales. It’s the 84bhp versions that Renault expects to sell best. In all three forms, the engine provides gutsy, if somewhat noisy performance.
Renault and Nissan were among the first manufacturers to realise that the tide of aftermarket sat nav systems was going to overrun expensive on-board systems. With that in mind, they were quick to jump into bed with market leader TomTom. Vans get the option of a TomTom Work, which adds vehicle tracking and monitoring to the TomTom Go 7000 and 9000 units. It opens up subscription two-way communication between van operator and driver, enabling jobs to be dispatched and accepted via the TomTom screen, if the vehicle is also fitted with TomTom’s Link 300 unit. Since the software is web-based, it means that the information generated can be viewed from any computer screen anywhere. Users can see how the van has been driven, where it is and how far it has travelled, among the many reports available.