There’s actually something liberating about bombing around town in a van. Perhaps it’s the anonymity afforded by just another beast of burden going about its daily duties. And make no mistake, small vans are the lifeblood of our cities, keeping things moving in the urban sprawl with relative ease and without a huge footprint.
Fun fact. Try as I might, I could not find an official story for the name ‘Kangoo’. However, that oracle of our modern lexicon, Urban Dictionary, defines Kangoo as thus: “F***ing car driven by f***ing drivers who don't know how to use these f***ing indicators”. Harsh.
And with that in mind, I made doubly and triply sure the left-hand indicator stalk got a fair old workout.
Today, we’re getting our delivery groove on with the 2018 Renault Kangoo Maxi EDC that lists at $29,990 plus on-road costs. But this being the month of June and the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, you can get your boxes into one for $29,990 drive-away. Our test car is unoptioned, bar metallic paint that adds $660.
As the name suggests, this is the long-wheelbase version of Renault’s perky little Kangoo two-van range, sitting above the Kangoo Compact. There’s also a Kangoo Crew that adds a second row of seating, but obviously impacts on cargo space to the tune of 600 litres, despite that back row folding in 60/40 split fashion.
The Maxi is it then, if your needs are for maximum load-lugging. That cavernous rear can swallow up to 4000L (the Compact is good for 3000L) and features a load length of 1862mm, height of 1252mm and width (between wheel arches) of 1218mm. Standard Aussie pallet? No worries. The Compact, by way of comparison, has the same height and width dimensions but loses out on length by 386mm.
Access to that cavernous space is easy, with sliding doors on both sides, while the rear barn-style doors can open 90 or 180 degrees for easy access. There are plenty of tie-down points in the cargo area too, 14 to be exact, making securing a load a cinch. Maximum payload is rated to 800kg, while Renault claims the Kangoo can tow up to 1000kg.
That space has its limitations, though. We thought we’d be clever here at the CA office and use the Kangoo to lug a motorcycle across town. Long story short, she wouldn’t fit, not without removing the motorbike’s mirrors first, which were catching on the roof.
Not really a fault, of course, as vans the size of the Kangoo are predominantly for urban deliveries, couriers and the like. And in that environment, this Kangoo Maxi actually shines.
Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel with outputs of 81kW and 240Nm. And having laboured under manual propulsion for so long, the Kangoo is now available with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, or in Renault-speak EDC (efficient dual-clutch).
And it’s a delightful combination. There’s just enough punch from the torquey diesel to ensure this ain’t no lumbering whitegoods on wheels. The dual-clutch transmission works well, shifting up and down according to your needs. It’s never left faltering.
The steering, too, is nice and light, and with a turning circle of 11.9m, the Kangoo is easy enough to manoeuvre around town, vital in this application. In short, despite its 4597mm length (just 300mm shy of the Holden Commodore, by way of comparison), the Maxi is surprisingly agile and nimble. You almost forget you're driving a van, such are its road manners, even unladen.
Of course, being a delivery van, there’s a better than average chance that drivers will spend a large part of their day inside the cabin. And while the seats are nice and comfortable, and offer a high-riding position for better visibility all ’round, the Kangoo does miss out on some things that really should have been better thought through.
The cabin is certainly robust enough, with hard-wearing materials typical of a vehicle that will see a lot of use each and every day. But cabin storage is a bit of a hodgepodge, to be honest. Practicality should be a top priority, with plenty of nooks for everyday things, like phones, or even a cup of takeaway coffee or a can of drink.
In that regard, the Kangoo Maxi is found a little wanting. Need somewhere to place your phone? Well, there’s the cavernous dash-top storage cubby, but it’s in the sun. And your phone slides around. A lot. Of course, an aftermarket phone cradle will fix that minor problem, or you could opt for the Renault Genuine Smartphone Support Accessory. Hmmm.
That said, the glovebox is generous, and that dash-top storage area is plenty large for the type of accoutrements one would expect a driver of a delivery van would carry. There’s also an optional overhead storage compartment that at $90 is a snip. We’d recommend it.
Alternatively, that overhead cubby can be bundled into the R-Link Enhanced Navigation and Audio pack ($890), which adds a rear-view camera, satellite-navigation and a colour touchscreen. Left unchecked, you'll have to make do with a head unit that's straight out of 1990, with AM/FM radio, MP3 and a CD player. It does feature Bluetooth connectivity, though, so all is not lost. There's also a single USB input.
We’d say this is a vital option. In standard trim, the Kangoo Maxi does not come with a rear-view camera. Add in the fact the sliding doors are solid (you can option glazed doors for $290) and parking becomes a bit of a, well, nightmare. There are parking sensors, letting you know insistently, and urgently, you are getting perilously close to that bike out the back, but if it were our money, the R-Link pack is a no-brainer.
We’d also spring for the $330 optional steel bulkhead separating the cabin from the cargo area. Not only does this reduce the risk of flying cargo hitting you in the back of the head, it also reduces the booming quality of the audio system and your phonecalls, as well as making the cabin an easier place to heat or cool.
The Renault Kangoo wears a four-star ANCAP safety rating and comes fitted with four airbags for both front occupants. There’s cruise control with a speed limiter and hill-start assist.
Renault covers the Kangoo Maxi with its three-year/200,000km warranty including one year of roadside assistance. Servicing is due every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and the first three years of scheduled maintenance will set you back $459 per visit – not unreasonable.
There really is a lot to like about the Renault Kangoo Maxi. Aside from the practicality of its cavernous cargo area, the fact it can be driven in a spritely fashion around town is a real boon. The addition of a six-speed dual-clutch transmission will no doubt be welcomed by those who spend five, six or even seven days a week nipping in and out of urban confines providing the types of services we take for granted.
And remember, the indicator stalk is on the left. Use it.