- Reliability and practicality
- Loss of strength when laden
Renault’s Kangoo van entered the small van market in 1998, proving popular among small business owners looking for dependability and all-round versatility in a compact package.
It competed against the Citroën Berlingo and Fiat Doblo and, despite stiff competition, proved a popular buy thanks to a wide range of engines, easy access to the rear and a roomy load bay.
Renault successfully re-packaged Kangoo as a passenger vehicle, too, launching it into the compact people carrier market in 1999.
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Kangoo is happy to zip through the city or sail on the motorway without complaint. Drivers get a great view of the road and the cabin is comfortable enough for long trips.
There are a wide range of engines available, two petrol units - a 60hp 1.2 and 95hp 1.6 - and three 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesels, which range from 57 to 80hp.
The majority of Kangoos were available with a five-speed manual gearbox, though the 1.6-litre petrol unit only came with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The power-steering (standard across the range) and tight turning circle are great for tight manoeuvres and navigating through traffic.
None of the engines are particularly potent, and the petrol engines can struggle uphill or when fully laden.
The softly-sprung suspension is forgiving on poor road surfaces, but rolls considerably when changing direction.
Visibility is helped by the optional rear view windows and large wide door mirrors. The high, upright driving position allows a commanding view of the road and it’s relatively easy to get comfortable.
The durable matt plastic dashboard and centre console should withstand daily wear-and-tear and are easy to use.
However, despite Kangoo’s chunky styling and hardwearing appearance, the individual components do not fit together as neatly as they should - leaving space between the fascia – which looks poor and allows dust and grime in.
The 1.5-litre dCi four-cylinder common-rail diesel unit is the economical choice, with an impressive 53.3mpg claimed fuel consumption, whereas the thirstier 1.6 16v petrol only manages 35.3 mpg.
Insurance groups are affordably low and the service intervals are reasonably priced and spacious, which should keep costs down.
Initial depreciation was steeper than more popular models, such as the Ford Transit Connect, though this shouldn’t be too much of a concern by now...
Under the bonnet, Kangoo is as rugged as you'd expect for a van – it feels well built and unlikely to let you down.
The matt finished dashboard is resilient, but the interior overall just isn’t hardwearing enough to withstand daily scuffs and scrapes.
There have been the odd electrical niggle reported, though this is unlikely to plague ownership and Kangoo was dependable overall. As an older model now, though, you should be prepared for on-going maintenance costs.
Vans of this age were never Euro NCAP crash tested, but the Kangoo car variant scored well in occupant crash tests, with a four-star (out of five) rating.
All Kangoo vans come with an adequate level of safety equipment as standard, including a driver's airbag, seatbelt pretensioners and side impact bars.
Security is taken care of by remote central locking and an immobiliser, as well as automatically locking doors, which fasten when the vehicle is in motion.
ABS was also available at an additional cost.