Renault Kangoo van long-term test

The Kangoo has always stood for value in the small van sector, but does the latest version also offer car-like comfort and refinement? Our photographer is living with one to find out...

Renault Kangoo van rear with Max

The car Renault Kangoo Advance Panel Van ML19 dCi 115 Run by Max Edleston, photographer

Why it's here The Kangoo is our reigning champion in the small van market, but how will it fare as a photographer’s apprentice?

Needs to Have space for all our snapper’s photography gear, be comfortable on big journeys, and function as a mobile office when needed

Mileage 17,062 List price £26,785 Target Price £26,785 Price as tested £29,735 Test economy 50.2mpg Official fuel economy 50.4mpg Private price now £17,358 Dealer price now £19,527 Running costs (excl. depreciation) £2257

25 August 2023 – Living with the best

One of the many good things about running a small van like my Renault Kangoo as a company car is that you’re never short of things to do with it. My day job as one of What Car?’s photographers means lots of miles and lots of luggage to take with me, but once the working week is done, my ‘other’ job begins. You see, ever since I’ve driven the Kangoo, the influx of family, friends, neighbours and even friends-of-friends needing a man with a van means my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Seriously, I’ve thought about printing some business cards.

The upshot is that having covered more than 17,000 miles in the Kangoo in the past six months, I feel well qualified to deliver the final verdict on what it’s like to live with. And unlike some of my friends, I won’t leave you waiting until the end of a job to receive the payment for your time – it’s been brilliant.

Renault Kangoo van with Max Edleston

Let’s start with the Kangoo’s interior. I could talk about how the mix of materials is better than those I found in my last van, the Citroen Berlingo, which lends the Kangoo a feeling of quality. I could mention the driver’s seat, which was comfortable on long trips and offered lots of adjustment, allowing me to find my perfect driving position easily.

However, what I really want to shout about is the space – there’s simply acres of it. There were more spaces to store my water bottle, keys, cables, chargers and odds and ends than I could possibly want, but they’re well thought out too. The open tray behind the infotainment screen, for example, has a rubber mat to stop my loose change from rolling out of sight when I’m cornering, while the Kangoo’s door bins were cavernous enough to swallow even my mighty water bottle.

As well as space, though, the Kangoo’s interior impressed me with its usefulness. While most modern cars – and an increasing number of vans – require you to venture into their touchscreens to change the temperature, the Kangoo has pleasantly tactile knobs on its dashboard. Plus, while the absence of a rear-view mirror could be jarring to first-time van drivers, I’ve not had any embarrassing car park scrapes because the Kangoo comes with a rear-view camera.

Max driving Renault Kangoo van

The infotainment system itself looks good, with simple menus to navigate your way around and large icons to press, but it could be slow to respond to my inputs. Plus, while my van comes with a wired connection for Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, I found it to be as reliable as the time slot for a van-based delivery. 

If you’ve read my previous updates on the Kangoo, then you’ll know that anything I’ve tried to fit into it has presented little challenge to the cavernous load bay. Sofas, bicycles, bags of clothes and my precious camera gear have all been stacked inside, held in place by helpful lashing hooks on the walls of the van. While my old Berlingo offered even more of these points, I was never left wanting in the Kangoo. 

Max loading Renault Kangoo rear

It hasn’t all been rosy, though, and there were a few niggles during my time with the Kangoo. Front passengers get a rather less comfortable seat than the driver, meaning I didn’t want to subject anyone to sitting there for longer trips. Plus, while the 113bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine in my van provided plenty of power, the seven-speed automatic gearbox was sometimes hesitant to change up a gear. Still, with a final fuel economy figure of 50.2mpg – just shy of what the Kangoo is officially capable of – I can’t complain too much.

Indeed, I can hardly complain at all about my time with the Kangoo. It offered everything I could want in a small van, alongside a good amount of car-like comfort. And although my phone is unlikely to ring as much following its departure – thank goodness – I think we’ve validated this van’s win at our most recent Van and Commercial Vehicle Awards. The Renault Kangoo really is the best small van around.

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