Based on an entirely new Kangoo platform that has seen the city van get wider and longer than its predecessor, the Kangoo E-Tech has some strong foundations to build on. The diesel van is now amongst the best load carries in its class, with enviable driver assistance technology and safety systems as well as greatly improved comfort levels.
Naturally, the electric van inherits all of these attributes, replacing the range of three diesel engines with a new 121bhp motor delivering 245Nm of torque. That’s a big power upgrade from the 59bhp motor previously found in the Kangoo, and one which could harm its range capabilities. Thankfully, the Kangoo E-Tech has also had a significant battery upgrade, increasing from 33kWh to 45kWh – made up of eight individual and repairable modules – and taking the van's claimed range up to 186 miles.
UK specification is not quite finalised, but all vans will get a 22kW AC charger as standard rather than a 11kW charger and will support up to 75kW on rapid chargers. Charging times will be in the region of 30 minutes to take the battery from 15 to 80 percent on a suitably powerful charger, or 2 hours and 40 minutes using an 11kW wallbox.
Other notable improvements include the addition of a heat pump for the air conditioning to make heating in the winter and cooling in the summer more efficient. Renault says this will provide optimum performance for when the temperature is between minus 15 degrees and 15 degrees, making it an ideal addition for the British weather and helping to improve the van’s range by more than 50 miles.
UK vans will be available in two different trim levels: Start and Advance. Heated windscreen and heated driver’s seat are standard features, with wireless smartphone charging and an eight-inch touchscreen display being among the options. Safety improvements have been a major step forward for the diesel van and the electric Kangoo will get the same high level of features with the option of lane keeping assistance, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go. There’s also traffic sign recognition and blind spot warning, and driver assistance systems will include parking assistance and a permanent rear-view camera in place of a rear view mirror.
Buyers will still be able to get a long-wheel base Maxi version of the Kangoo E-Tech, enabling load volumes of up to 4.2m3 to be carried. The standard size van has a more modest 3.3m3 volume. However, neither van will be available with the Open Sesame wide aperture side door and swivelling bulkhead which European vans can be specified with.
The cost and complexity of making the features available in right-hand-drive don’t stack up, which is a shame because it increases carrying length by 1.2m and the load volume by 0.7m3. It also enables large items to be loaded through the side door – ideal if you’re in a busy street with nose to tail parking.
UK examples will get the option of a retractable hanging storage system called the Easy Inside Rack. It allows you to transport items up to 2.5m long off the van’s floor, offering a great solution for transporting ladders, timber or pipes safely and securely without having to rearrange your van every time. Payload for the standard vans will be 615kg while the long-wheel base models can move 800kg. All vans will also be able to tow up to 1,500kg.
As the payload figures suggest, the electric Kangoo is a heavy van but you’d never know it from the performance of its 121bhp electric motor. The instant 245Nm of torque make for a very respectable 0-62mph time of 11.6 seconds, but it’s the handling and ride comfort which are the Kangoo’s greatest strengths. Its steering is sharp and precise, while the ride is fairly soft for a van without being too wallowy.
Its best feature, though, is its overall quietness due largely to the significant steps made in the refinement of the new van - which even as a diesel is a quiet place to be. To soothe the anxiety of range conscious drivers, there’s an Eco drive mode button on the dash, which drops the power to limit harsh acceleration, and three braking modes to help clawback energy through regenerative braking.
There’s a lot to like about the Kangoo E-Tech, not least its comfort and refinement as well as its load carrying prowess. Payloads could be better, but all small electric vans are particularly weight sensitive. What the Kangoo E-Tech now offers is a van ready to tackle the next 10 years.