New car test : Renault Kangoo E-Tech : Electrons on the sofa

Stellantis group recently decided to market only electrically-powered minivans (However, recent rumours talk about a return of ICE ones in England and elsewhere) but Renault prefers to develop its Kangoo range and offer petrol, diesel and electric versions. The latter is named E-Tech and we were able to test it right before its arrival at a dealership near you !

Renault created the ludospace segment 25 years ago. These high roof vehicles let you sit inside with a top hat on. A new Kangoo generation arrived last year and Renault goes even further now with this electric Kangoo. Its rather pleasing appearance was left untouched but its electric motor offers 90 kW and a 245 Nm torque right from the start. It features a new lithium-ion 45 kWh battery made up of 8 independent modules that are easy to repair. Renault claims a 285 km WLTP range.

For the rest, the car remains the clever French ludospace van. Its second row of seats is unique in the segment, featuring three fullsize seats and 49 litres of storage space, including the Easy Life sliding drawer. In the rear, there’s a massive 850 l boot which can be extended to 2,500 l when the second row sliding seat is folded flat. Eventually, the innovative roof bars that don’t need any tool to be used are also a standard feature on the electric Kangoos. Fearful drivers will be pleased to know that fourteen driving aids, including Level 2 autonomous driving, are there to enhance safety.

Amazing comfort 

Renault does not take any chances. We tested this new car in Zeeland, far from motorways and dual carriage ways. This is certainly not the most natural place for a Kangoo but driving on some Dutch flat and winding roads inevitably extends the car’s range. Once aboard, nothing sets it apart from the rest of the range and we are pleased with that. The dashboard design is fresh and looks pretty high grade for what is essentially a commercial vehicle. The fake wood part looks good and there’s a large enough central screen. Not to mention a pleasant to grab three-spoke steering wheel and the good driving position preventing tiredness. Some useful details : a smartphone holder can be placed on either side of the screen top facing the driver and there’s a large storage bin on top of the dashboard.

Now is the time to move on… For the first kilometres, you can drive this electric Kangoo in a very relaxed way, as it’s often the case with such vehicles. We would like to emphasise its high comfort level : a welcome change from most electric vehicles, which are quite stiff and often handicapped by their own weight. Renault did a great work in this respect and the car’s suspension is as good as the ICE Kangoos’. The small electric motor sometimes lacks verve as it has to shift 1,870 kilos (including 320 kg of batteries) but overall it does work pretty well.

Positive attitude

The Flat Land lives up to its name : there wasn’t a single hill during our test drive, just a few nice curves  that showed the Kangoo had no problem to be driven in an eager way… mind you this is no sportscar as it takes 12″6 secs to get from 0 to 100 km/h. Don’t worry about speeding : its top speed is 135 km/h. If you get caught up in the game, there are three levels of regenerative braking to play with on top of the usual gear lever D position. However, it’s not possible to get the car to stand still by lifting your foot off the accelerator pedal. When we started, the on-board computer claimed a 181 km range.

At the end of our 100 km test drive done at a fairly brisk pace, there was still an 83 km range and average  fuel consumption was 21 kWh/100 km. Renault asks an additional €1,335 for the faster charging DC version, the same as the Megane’s. The Kangoo E-Tech Electric leaves the factory with an integrated 11 kW charger. The modified charger is compatible with 22kW AC power, as well as 80kW DC fast charge. Enough to get back a 170 km range in 30 minutes on the way to your hollydays’ destination, provided there are no queues at the charging points.

The price of silence

The first two trim levels, named Authentic and Equilibre, are primarily intended for local authorities and governmental agencies while private buyers will prefer the top of the range Techno trim. This one starts from €42,090 with the 11 kW charger and from €43,425 with the 80 kW one. An identical ICE Kangoo is available for €27,215.

Like its Stellantis competitors, the electric Renault Kangoo has to deal with a small capacity battery and a somewhat sluggish engine. However the on board quietness, the huge storage and interior space, easyness of entry and exit without forgetting a rather good driving position should be attractive for families wanting to be early adopters of an electric car. It wil be perfect for everyday trips or school and supermarket runs, not mentioning getting to the local vegan shop and the usual children’s various activities, provided there’s a charging point at home. Longer journeys will allow you to take full advantage of its comfort and convenience. However, don’t compare it pricewise with ICE Kangoos :  there’s nothing to justify the hefty price difference between them. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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