A longer Kangoo van should be just what some operators are looking for. Jonathan Crouch checks out the Maxi model in updated 'Phase II' form.
Well built and easy to drive, the Renault Kangoo has won plenty of friends amongst the UK's small van operators and may continue to do so in improved 'Phase II' guise. In long-wheelbase Maxi form, its load volume increases to 4m3 with a maximum payload of 800kg.
There are terrible days in every van driver's life when the cargo that needs to be moved won't fit in the van that has to move it. In such a situation, there are only two realistic ways to go: less cargo or more van. Renault is hoping that it can persuade customers to take that latter option with the Kangoo Maxi. This model is identical to the standard Renault Kangoo in every way: it's just a little bit longer. Renault was already unusual in the compact van market because it offered two versions of its Kangoo van from the outset - the short-wheelbase Kangoo Compact and the lengthier Kangoo. Today, the Kangoo Maxi sits above the Kangoo offering a third load length and a larger carrying capacity. It could be the ideal option for operators looking to minimise the occasions when the things they need to carry won't fit.
It's the popular 1.5-litre dCi diesel engines that form the basis of the Kangoo Maxi range. These are familiar units used across the manufacturer's line-up and 90bhp or 110bhp versions are offered. The less powerful diesel doesn't move the Kangoo with any great zest and can sound harsh when pushed into the upper realms of the rev range. The 110bhp version feels stronger and is the unit to choose if big mileages are on your agenda. If they're not, then you might want to consider the Z.E. all-electric plug-in version. The Kangoo's underpinnings are borrowed from Renault's Scenic passenger car and these origins are felt out on the road. The ride is more compliant and forgiving over the worst surface imperfections than we've come to expect in a compact van but the flipside is that body-control is a little wayward when you press the Kangoo into corners. The longer wheelbase of the Kangoo Maxi helps it provide a more composed ride and handling package than the shorter options which bounce around far more. On the downside, the turning circle increases with the extra length but most drivers will hardly notice, the Kangoo always feeling manoeuvrable for its size. All models have great forward visibility courtesy of the extensive windscreen and truncated bonnet, while the well-weighted steering and positive gearchange also impress. The main point of access to the cargo area in the Kangoo Maxi is the asymmetrically-split rear doors. These open to a 90 degree angle but releasing a catch inside allows them to swing out to 180 degrees. The sliding side door is also offered and this opens to reveal a 635mm aperture with a tug on the reassuringly chunky handle. There are various bulkhead options including a mesh grill that swings open to increase the payload capacity and a ladder flap is also available so long items can be poked out through the roof at the rear of the van. Eight load lashing points are provided for the securing of cargo. This Renault has been designed to minimise operating costs in all its forms. As well as the economical engines and the long service intervals, the wings are made of a composite material so they're cheaper to repair. Various small design modifications have also been made to cut labour time needed in the repair process. If you really want to minimise your running costs, there's even a 'Z.E.' zero emissions all-electric plug-in version.
There's a revised front end to distinguish this Phase II Kangoo but none of the things that matter have really changed. This biggest Maxi Kangoo has a 4m3 load volume that's 1m3 bigger than that of the standard version. The maximum payload remains the same as heavy duty versions of the Kangoo at 800kg. Renault has aimed to bring elements of its Scenic MPV to the Kangoo's interior, creating what it likes to refer to as a 'mobile office' concept. There's certainly a good quota of storage options provided in both models with large door pockets, an A4-sized compartment in the dashboard complete with pen holders and a 13-litre overhead shelf. Inside, the basic dashboard design is still very user-friendly with its aviation-style handbrake designed to minimise strain on the wrist and dash-mounted gearlever. Certainly, by the standards of the compact van market, quality of fit and finish is impressive. The upright driving position also facilitates easy entries and exits. An enormous amount of headroom is present in the front of the Kangoo, enough so that all kinds of elaborate headgear could be accommodated should the occasion arise. Though there's no optional middle seat of the kind that some rivals offer, space for driver and passenger is more than adequate, with only the passenger legroom (slightly restricted by the sloping floor) giving any cause for concern. If you need to carry more than one passenger, then it's worth checking out the Maxi Crew Van variant.
The Maxi version of the Kangoo kicks off at around £14,500 ex VAT, which means that there's a premium of about £1,000 for its extra carrying capacity over the standard model. A Crew van version is also offered with a second row of seating and a load area of 1.1m3 behind that. There's also a Z.E. all-electric version priced from around £14,000 thanks to a government subsidy. All Kangoo Maxi models come with a CD stereo with controls on the steering column, remote central locking and a full steel bulkhead. Safety equipment includes an advanced ABS system with brake assist and MSR torque overrun regulation, a diver's airbag and pretensioner seatbelts. ASR traction control and ESC stability control are available as options. The Maxi version of the Kangoo is designed to fill the hole at the top of the Kangoo range by going head to head with the largest compact vans on the market. It's one step below small panel vans like Renault's own Trafic and a direct alternative to the largest versions of Citroen's Berlingo, Ford's Transit Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy.
The main point of access to the cargo area in the Kangoo Maxi is the asymmetrically-split rear doors. These open to a 90 degree angle but releasing a catch inside allows them to swing out to 180 degrees. The sliding side door is also offered and this opens to reveal a 635mm aperture with a tug on the reassuringly chunky handle. There are various bulkhead options including a mesh grill that swings open to increase the payload capacity and a ladder flap is also available so long items can be poked out through the roof at the rear of the van. Eight load lashing points are provided for the securing of cargo. This Renault has been designed to minimise operating costs in all its forms. As well as the economical engines and the long service intervals, the wings are made of a composite material so they're cheaper to repair. Various small design modifications have also been made to cut labour time needed in the repair process. If you really want to minimise your running costs, there's even a 'Z.E.' zero emissions all-electric plug-in version.
There's nothing too complex about the Renault Kangoo Maxi but operators should appreciate its no nonsense offer of a Kangoo with extra capacity. If you can't carry everything you need to in a standard Kangoo, this model might be the answer. This Renault is one of the most comfortable and manoeuvrable options in the compact van class and it also impresses with its build quality. The soft suspension means handling isn't as sharp as in some of the alternatives and the engines major in economy rather than performance. Still, the extra capacity of the Maxi model definitely adds something to the Kangoo range which was already one of the most diverse on the market.
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