What Car? says...
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon recruited 15,000 more British workers to cope with soaring demand for home deliveries. Many of the extra staff were tasked with driving packages to your front door – and that's a job this new Renault Kangoo E-Tech electric van seems perfectly suited to.
You see, the Kangoo E-Tech is aimed mainly at businesses looking for a vehicle for doing lots of local drop-offs. It’s a rival to three other small electrified vans: the Citroën ë-Berlingo electric van, the Peugeot e-Partner and the Vauxhall Combo Electric.
And if you follow the What Car? Van Awards you'll know that the Kangoo E-Tech also comes with a huge wave of expectation. That's because the regular Renault Kangoo is our favourite small van, being great to drive, practical and comfortable.
The Kangoo E-Tech gets a bigger battery than its predecessor (called the Z.E.), with a 45kWh usable capacity rather than 33kWh, adding crucial extra miles to its range from a full charge. It also has a new electric motor with 121bhp – well up on the 59bhp of the previous model – and a lot more space inside.
It's available in two body lengths, giving buyers some choice on what size of van they go for. You can only have a panel van variant with two front seats right now, but there is a crew cab option coming later in 2023 with seats for five people.
There are also two trim levels to choose from, and we’ll get into what each offers you – and which one we think you should pick – later in this review. As well as equipment, we’ll also look at what the new Kangoo E-Tech is like to drive and live with, and whether it deserves a spot on your new electric van shortlist.
And if you’re interested in leasing a new van, don't forget that then we can help you find the cheapest deals if you search our free What Car? Leasing pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
With 121bhp from its electric motor, the Kangoo E-Tech electric van positively scampers along country roads. If you've driven its predecessor (the Z.E.), you'll definitely feel the difference, and it even has more power than the top-rated 1.5-litre diesel engine in the regular Renault Kangoo.
Its 181lb ft of torque gets you away from traffic lights easily, and the pulling power is relentless all the way up to the 81mph top speed. Underlining that point is the fact that the 0-62mph sprint takes just 11.6sec, which is impressive for a van. The result is that the Kangoo E-Tech feels pleasantly quick, whether you’re moving around town or overtaking on a motorway.
The new 45kWh battery pack provides a WLTP-certified range of 186 miles, which is longer than most rivals manage. You’re more likely to see 160 miles or so in real-world conditions, but that’s still enough for most drivers, especially if they can plug in to recharge the battery at home or work between jobs.
The Kangoo E-Tech has an Eco mode that is said by Renault to reduce power by around 35% to help you eke out the battery, although we didn’t see any change to the projected range readout on our test van when we switched between modes.
You have a choice of three levels of braking regeneration. The highest level does a good job of slowing you down as it recovers energy to feed back to the battery, but the stopping force isn’t enough to bring you to a halt, as it is with some electric cars with one-pedal driving.
Speaking of the brakes, they’re effective enough, but suffer from the same inconsistent feel as plenty of the electric rivals, so they take some getting used to.
Despite carrying around a heavy battery pack, the Kangoo E-Tech handles very well, with direct steering that’s well weighted, and the ride takes most of the sting out of larger bumps and ruts in the road. It certainly rides better than the Citroën ë-Berlingo electric van, the Peugeot e-Partner and the Vauxhall Combo Electric.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Most drivers will have no trouble getting comfortable in the Renault Kangoo E-Tech electric van. There’s lots of adjustment in the seat, and the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. The pedals, seat and steering wheel aren’t quite in line, but even after an extended stint behind the wheel, we didn’t feel uncomfortable.
Most of the materials you touch regularly inside the van feel of good quality. The steering wheel is covered in pleasant faux-leather, and although most of the materials are of the hard plastic variety, they’re at least textured to keep things interesting, and feel built to last.
Entry-level versions of the Kangoo E-Tech come with a simple stereo and Bluetooth connection, but other versions have an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. We found that the system responds quickly to inputs, but we do wish the shortcuts on the side of the screen were buttons rather than touch-sensitive areas.
You don’t need to delve into the touchscreen to adjust the air-con as you do in some electric vans (including the larger Ford E-Transit) – you get chunky dials that make it easy to select your desired temperature, direction and fan speed.
The driver’s information display can put a wealth of information, including your speed, driving assistance features and media sources, right in front of you. Analogue dials in the instrument cluster show your speed, acceleration input and, helpfully, the amount of charge left in the battery.
On the move, the electric Kangoo is exceptionally peaceful. Once the synthesised whine of the low speed noise generator disappears, there’s hardly any road noise and no obvious wind noise, making this a serene van to cover big miles in.
There’s a reversing camera to help with parking and – for drivers who might be nervous about the sizeable blind-spots in vans – the passenger vanity mirror has been enlarged so it can also function as an extra driver mirror.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You can get the Renault Kangoo E-Tech electric van in two sizes – standard wheelbase and long-wheelbase Maxi – with maximum load volumes of 3.3m3 and 4.2m3. For comparison, the longest versions of the Citroën ë-Berlingo electric van, the Peugeot e-Partner and the Vauxhall Combo Electric have a maximum load volume of 3.9m3.
The standard L1 model’s payload is well below the 750kg rating that the smallest versions of those rivals can handle, while the Kangoo Maxi’s 800kg maximum matches their longer versions. The mid-range L2 Kangoo can manage a decent 764kg. No matter which version you go for, you can tow a maximum braked weight of 1500kg.
Innovations introduced with the Kangoo E-Tech include an Easy Inside Rack – a retractable hanging storage system that lets you transport items up to 2.5m long. It’s ideal for ladders or bits of pipe.
You won’t want for storage space inside the cab, with a total of 44 litres. The door bins are large enough to hold a one-litre bottle of water each, you get cup holders in the centre console, there's a big glovebox, an overhead storage compartment and even an extra storage bin behind the instrument cluster.
Later in 2023, Renault will introduce the crew cab variant, which can seat five people in a 2+3 configuration. Helpfully, in that version, the second row of seating can be flipped forwards using a lever. It lies flat against the driver and passenger seats so that if you don't need the seats you can use the space for storage. The seats of the crew cab ë-Berlingo only partly fold to improve load space.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Electric vans are rarely cheap, but the Renault Kangoo E-Tech has always been competitive on price, and the same remains true here. You’ll pay a little more to put one your driveway than you would for most rivals, but the differences are marginal – especially when you take into account how much kit is included as standard with each of the two trim levels.
Entry-level Start models come with a DAB radio, electric front windows, cruise control and 16in steel wheels.
Higher-spec Advance gets a lot more kit for a fairly modest increase in price. It adds an 8.0in infotainment system, reverse parking sensors and a volumetric alarm approved by the security experts at Thatcham Research. If you can afford to, we'd recommend choosing Advance.
The Kangoo E-Tech can charge at rates of up to 80kW, meaning a 20-80% top up of the battery can take just 40 minutes if you’re using a suitably powerful charging point. It’s worth noting that some small electric van rivals – including the Toyota Proace City Electric – can do the same job in slightly less time, thanks to their peak charging rates of 100kW.
Charging the Kangoo E-Tech to 80% with a slower 22kW charger takes 1hr 21min, and while charging with a three-pin plug is possible, it will take much longer.
Drivers can use the My Renault App to schedule their charging to avoid peak times, and the app can help you find your nearest charging station if you find yourself running low. Plus, if you don’t already own a home charging unit, Renault can bundle one in alongside your van purchase.
Safety features include the option of lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control, plus traffic-sign recognition and blind-spot warning. In terms of driver aids, the most helpful is a rear-view assist camera that streams a constant view of what’s behind you on to a small screen where the rear view mirror would usually be.
We don't have specific reliability data for the Kangoo E-Tech, but as a guide, Renault came a middling 18th out of 32 manufacturers listed in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. Citroën came 11th, Vauxhall was joint 23rd (with Mercedes) and Peugeot finished a disappointing 28th place.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
About the author
George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.
Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.