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Renault Kangoo Expression dCi 106

Click to view picture gallery“Cool to be square? The new can-do
  Renault Kangoo makes an all-rounder
  out of a cube
...”

THE ESSENTIAL QUALITIES THE ORIGINAL RENAULT KANGOO brought to the market in 1997 of practicality, fun to live with, hugely versatile and economical to run still apply to the latest MPV version introduced in June this year (2009). Prices range from 11,200 to 14,550 plus options and option packs.

Unfortunately, what should be fitted as standard, isn't. As the Kangoo is often used as a family vehicle, Electronic Control Stability with Understeer Control should not be an extra. However, it is: it's available for most models but adds another 300 to the final price. Likewise air conditioning: that costs an extra 550 for all but the top specification model — again, not good marketing practice for what is likely to be family transport.

The latest Kangoo has conventional front-hinged doors, two sliding side doors and a huge, full-height, lift-up tailgate leading to a low loadbay floor and cavernous load area with up to 2,866 litres of cargo space available.

The new Kangoo uses Renault's (and their Nissan partner's) C-segment platform which is also used for the new Scenic, amongst other models. With a length of 4,213mm, it is 180mm longer than its predecessor and it is 102mm wider at 1,829mm with a 92mm longer wheelbase at 2,697mm. Height remains more or less the same at 1,799mm but it does look a tall vehicle; but not tall enough, fortunately, to prevent it from entering most multi-story car parks or a conventional home garage.

With the rear seats in place, boot capacity is 660 litres. Maximum load space is massive when the 66:33 split rear seats are folded down — and bigger still with the front passenger seat also folded. There are six possible seating and load carrying configurations so versatility is the core proposition offered by the can-do Kangoo. The 43mm of extra rear seat legroom and 109mm of added elbow room will be appreciated by all users. The rear load area floor is very low so it's easy to load and the solid load area cover will also bear weight. This shelf can also be slotted into the rear load area at a mid-height position to further increase load carrying options. If that isn't enough space then overhead storage and in-cabin compartments add a further 77 litres of oddments room.

Nobody, I'm sure, will look on the Kangoo as an attractive vehicle — practicality and maximising easy-to-use space is what this vehicle is principally about. It will be ideal for active families, dog owners, family and business transport and taxi and minicab operators. The less mobile will like the load space for a wheelchair and the upright seating positions which allow easy entry and departure, as do the sliding rear side doors. Renault offers an extensive range of vehicles through the Motability scheme and they provide a list of accredited specialists who can adapt vehicles such as the Kangoo — for more information check out motability.renault.co.uk.

Reasons to buy include
the Kangoo’s versatile
load and passenger
carrying space, easy
access, roomy cabin and
comfortable ride
...”
The Kangoo's ride is generally comfortable, the suspension compliant but, due to the vehicle's height, there is some body roll. On a long journey I and my passengers found the seats initially comfortable but after a while they felt too soft and lacked support.

There are three levels of specification available: Extreme, which is relatively basic and durable and more suited to hard work than family transport; next comes the sensible Expression option which most customers will choose; and for those buyers who want the top level, there is the I-Music Special Addition which has a superior sound system, air conditioning 15-inch alloy wheels and brushed aluminium-effect door mirrors. Core features for all versions include ABS, power steering, front and front lateral airbags, folding rear bench seats, sliding side doors, heated rear tailgate window with wash/wipe, central door locking, electric front windows, pollen filter, roof rack fixings, height-adjustable steering and front seat belts and rear Isofix child seat mounting points.

For an extra 850, the Expression models offer a better level of equipment which includes front overhead parcel shelf, aviation tables for rear seat passengers, multi-position rear parcel shelf, trip computer, electric folding door mirrors, front fog lights, a better sound system, fabric trim on the front door panels and side panelling in the boot area as well as body-coloured bumpers and door mirrors.

Even so, these equipment levels can be enhanced further with lots of extra-cost options such as ESP, electric windows for the sliding side doors, must-have air conditioning, curtain air bags, rear parking sensors, cruise control, alloy wheels and automatic headlights and wipers. My diesel test model with Expression trim cost 14,050 but with what I would call 'must-have' options finished up at a costly 16,070 — well into the same price range as the stylish new Renault Scenic five-seater purpose-built MPV.

Depending on the trim and equipment level chosen, there is a choice of five engines: 1.6-litre 90 and 106bhp petrol units and 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel units with power outputs of 68, 86 and the new 106bhp variant. Automatic transmission will be a must for some users so Extreme and Expression models are available with it coupled to the 1.6-litre 105bhp petrol engine.

Powering my test Kangoo was the new 1.5-litre dCi 106bhp common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel which produces 177lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm. This engine is used in conjunction with a six-speed manual gearbox and fifth and sixth gear ratios are long-legged to improve fuel economy and deliver a relatively-low CO2 figure for taxation purposes — and best for cruising on open roads.

Reasons to buy include the Kangoo's versatile load and passenger carrying space, easy access, roomy cabin and comfortable ride. Not so good is the price when you add some essential creature comforts, the fact that ESP is not standard fit, unsupportive seats, noise intrusion and that the Kangoo looks like a van with windows.

Officially, the Combined Cycle fuel economy is 51.4mpg but the best figure my test car returned was a constant 43.5mpg however I drove it; in traffic or on the motorway. Road tax will be 125 a year due to the 146g/km CO2 emissions. Given the size of the vehicle and the load carrying potential, I wouldn't want a less powerful unit but it does come at a hefty price considering its commercial vehicle parentage. — David Miles

Renault Kangoo Expression dCi 106 | 14,050
Maximum speed: 106mph | 0-62mph: 13 seconds | Overall MPG: 43.5mpg
Power: 106bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 146g/km | Insurance group 5E