Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
While the Renault Kangoo ZE’s battery upgrade, taking it from 22kWh to 33kWh, is the most important feature of the van, its 59bhp electric motor is a significant step forward too. Based on the R90 motor used to power the Renault Zoe, this R60 motor in the Kangoo ZE produces 166lb ft of instant torque – meaning it delivers quick responses off the line.
As well as a bigger battery bringing better range, the Kangoo ZE also has a better charging time than before, and now supports single phase 7kW (32A) chargers. A full charge takes six hours, but a quick charge top-up is also possible, with an hour-long recharge good for around 22 additional miles. As always, topping up over a regular three-pin power supply will take a long time – around 18-20 hours for a full charge.
All of these changes add up to make the Kangoo ZE much more useable van than before, but from behind the wheel you’d barely notice the difference. The ultra-quiet operation of the motor means the drive is almost silent. Road and tyre noise are the only two sounds to penetrate the interior, and although they’re unusual and take some getting used to compared with the sound of an engine, they can easily be drowned out with the radio on low volume.
Other characteristics are very much like the diesel-engined Kangoo van, with light and responsive steering. It’s not the best van to drive by any means, but the lower centre of gravity from the batteries being in the floor plan certainly make the ZE a more enjoyable vehicle than the regular van.
The ride quality in the Kangoo ZE is particularly good, with the added weight of the batteries helping the van to feel even more settled on the road. Potholes and other typical cityscape scars are dismissed comfortably, albeit with a great deal more noticeable noise. The ‘Eco’ button, situated where you’d expect a gear stick to be, also proves remarkably efficient at increasing range by dulling the urgency of any aggressive attempts at acceleration – thus helping you to stretch out every bit of range from the battery.