Renault_Kangoo_frontThe little French van that can: Renault hopes so after giving the Kangoo a push along with more power under the bonnet of the light commercial vehicle.

From the company that has been the maker of Europe’s number one van range 18 years in a row, a new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine comes up with better performance and fuel economy than many larger naturally aspirated engines.

The new engine puts out 84 kW at 4500 rpm, more than 1500 revs below the unit it replaces, while direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber, plus turbocharging, has the motor delivering 190 Nm of torque between 2000 and 4000 revs, a 30 per cent increase on the superseded 1.6.

The transmission has been upgraded to match the engine, with either a dual clutch six-speed automatic or six-speed manual, offering better acceleration, relaxed cruising and increased fuel economy.

The Kangoo comes in short and long wheelbase with three specification levels – Compact, Maxi or Maxi Crew – starting at $23,490, plus on-road costs. On test was a 1.2-litre Compact automatic.

As much as a small van could be called cute, the Renault Kangoo is appealing in looks, with its shoulders-back stance and turned-up nose. A pair of seats offer average comfort and side support in quick cornering.

Analogue instruments are standard set-out. However, there was some glare coming off the top of the test-car dash which was distracting for the driver and made the skeletal digital gearshift indicator letters even harder to read.


An audio system, with AM/FM radio, CD, MP3, has steering wheel-mounted controls, there is Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with audio streaming, USB audio input and 3.5 mm AUX jack, plus 12V auxiliary power outlet.

With peak power of 84 kW at just 4500 rpm (1500 revs earlier than before) and 190 Nm of torque between 2000 and 4000 rpm, the Kangoo’s new direct-injection engine is 6kW more powerful than the previous 1.6-litre unit.

Torque is up by a handy 42 Nm. The new engine is 10kg lighter and uses a low friction timing chain that lasts the life of the engine. Combined average fuel consumption economy is said to have fallen from 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres to 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

The dual-clutch gearbox has fast shift times, enhancing acceleration off the mark. Engine revs at 100km/h cruising speed have been reduced by 23 per cent to 2240 rpm, which helps cut fuel consumption. The EDC includes a manual shift mode for more control of the transmissions shift points.


Safety standards have been raised too, with the Kangoo Compact 1.2 including driver and passenger side airbags, reverse parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, plus hill start assist. Active safety continues with ABS anti-skid brakes with emergency brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control.

Compact in name it may be, but there’s plenty of space where it matters – in the back – three cubic metres to be exact.

At idle, the engine is all-but silent. Prod the accelerator and the turbo breathes life into the motor with a non-intrusive note to boot. This cannot be said about road noise.

Little has been done to isolate occupants from the constant drumming from the cargo bay. A standard cargo mat protects the cabin floor, helps stop loads moving around and reduces cabin noise. It is left to cargo itself to offer any further sound deadening up front.

In a range of conditions the Kangoo auto delivered up to expectations with spritely performance in the city but fell short on twisting, hilly country roads, tending to wallow and want to wander, especially on fast bends. However, once again, any load provided at least some balance to the ride.

Large exterior rear-view mirrors make up for limited all-round visibility. Reversing is an entirely different matter, with visibility severely restricted to windows in the rear door. Pulling out of a parking spot with rear cross traffic to contend with is no fun.

The standard tailgate lifts high giving rear access to the full height of the van, while double barn doors with windows are an option. It will take a full Australian pallet between the rear wheel arches and a sliding door on each side of the vehicle, which means in a standard car parking space there’s room for loading.

Petrol models offer Renault R-LINK enhanced satellite navigation complete with a seven-inch colour touch screen and a rear view camera. Also available are the same 15 inch Aria light alloy wheels as fitted to the Maxi Crew, as well as glazing for the side sliding doors.

A fold-flat front passenger seat is also available along with an overhead parcel shelf, a steel bulkhead behind the seats, anti-slip timber floor and the unique Girafon retractable roof flap.

A simpler optional Pro Pack comprises R-LINK media, satnav and camera, an overhead cabin storage shelf and glazed dual rear and side sliding doors.

In the present-generation Kangoo, the petrol variants have accounted for around 60 per cent of sales and Renault Australia is looking to the new drivetrain and additional specification to give the small van an edge over rivals.

A three-year 200,000 kilometre warranty is worth noting too by commercial vehicle owners.


Renault Kangoo Compact 1.2 turbo-petrol manual $23,490
Renault Kangoo Compact 1.2 turbo-petrol EDC $26,490
Renault Kangoo 1.5 Maxi turbo-diesel manual $26,990
Renault Kangoo 1.5 Maxi Crew turbo-diesel manual $29,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Renault Kangoo 1.2-litre turbo-petrol van)

Capacity: 1.197 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 84 kW @ 4500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 190 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 147 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed EDC automatic

Length: 4213 mm
Wheelbase: 2697 mm
Width: 1829 mm
Height: 1815 mm
Turning Circle: 10.7 metres
Gross Vehicle Mass: 1810 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 56 litres

Front: Solid disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / 200,000 km

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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