Monday, July 28, 2008

Renault Kangoo Family Review

I'm writing a review of my 2008 Renault Kangoo Family. I'll try to review the good and bad points of the car. Writing car reviews seems to be an art so let's see if I can do this.

Selection of the car
The company I work for gives people in some functions a company car. These are leased cars I first qualified for that in 2000 and selected an Opel Astra. In 2004 I choose a Peugeot 307 Break. When that was due for replacement this year I started to look around for something with even more space and yet a bit more affordable. I did look at Peugeot briefly but the 308 SW wasn't available yet and the 307 Break was only available in a full options and rather expensive version. So I looked elsewhere. I noticed the Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo and the old Renault Kangoo. Affordable cars with a load of room but also old designs, passenger versions of mid 1990s panel vans with loads of engine noise. Then both Renault and Peugeot/Citroen announced new versions of these cars. Renault was the first to have the car available and that was just in time so I selected that car.

I got the Renault Kangoo Family "expression" with the 1.6 petrol engine and the following extras:
  • Pack Introduction Expression
  • automatic lights and wipers
  • manual airconditioning
  • electric front and rear windows
  • 3 airline type luggage bins above the rear seats
  • electrically controled and heated mirrors in body color

Pack Style (required for Pack introduction)
  • fog lights
  • body colored bumpers
Pack driver
  • Onboard computer
  • radio Renault 4 x 15 W + CD-player (replaced that with my old clarion since an mp3 option was another 500 euros)
  • cruise control and speed limiter (cruise control the reason for choosing this pack
I also got a luggage net. I selected the color "bleu menthe" for the car.

Almost 1600 euros worth of options. Also the first annoyance with Renault, almost all options are sold in "packs".

Allowing for the paperwork to make it's way trough corporate burocracy I think my car got delivered after about 8 weeks. I picked it up at my local dealership just in time for my summer vacation. After a week of getting used to it we drove to the Correze in France, a 1000km drive. The luggage net came in very handy. It allowed me to stack the luggage higher than the rear seats.

First impressions
Room! Loads of room. Clear views all around, big side mirrors. Good view all around. Despite the "only" 110hp engine the car doesn't feel all that slow. Handling is good and direct enough. Since it has a huge sail area it is sensitive to wind. Suspension is rather french, soft and yet you do feel something of what's happening under the car. That soft suspension was very usefull on the horrible back roads in rural France.

It has power steering which is very nice for a car this heavy (1474kg) and big. It's direct enough just like the brakes and accelerator. Don't expect sportscar-like performace, you're not going to get it.

This is were the car shines. The driver and passenger have ample room. There's a parcel shelf above the dashboard which is nice for things like cds.
Above the rear seats I have the optional airplane like bins. Three seperate doors on those but just one big area behind them. So, store something small, take a few corners and you can guess behind which door that small item ended up with.
In back there's 660 liters of space below the shelf. There's a space just behind the rear seats to store the shelf if you're carrying something bigger than that. There's eyes to tie down heavy loads and there's hooks to hang up the luggage net. The booth is lined with some durable looking rubber.
The kids in the back have two airplane like tray tables. The first few times they fold these away the sound may startle the driver. Of course the kids love these tray tables. The sliding doors are also a big hit with my 2 kids but it does take some practice for them to close the doors themselves.

Bad points
Fuel economy. Even after 4000km the onboard computer indicates that I'm running 9.1 liter per 100km. (25,8 mpg) which I do find somewhat disappointing since Renault thinks I should get 7,9 l/100km. On the display I can clearly see that a quick sprint immediately pushes the fuel usage upto 20+ liter/100km. If the dutch government didn't put a 4000 euro extra tax on diesel engines I'd have gotten the 1.5 dci which has excellent fuel economy

Seats. The front seats are designed for someone a lot shorter than I am. They stop at my shoulder blades and don't offer good support for my upper back. Not a problem on short trips but after 2 hours or so my back starts to hurt. I'll have to fnd a pillow or something for that.

Electronics. My Peugeot 307 allowed me to close the powered windows after I had removed the car. If I pressed and held the close button on the remote control it even closed the windows automatically. With the Kangoo if I remove the key the only available power is to fold back the side mirrors if I turn the knob for that.

Vibrations. At 130km/h something in the car starts to resonate. It doesn't affect the handling but it is noisy.

Audio. As was to be expected from a french car in this price range the quality of the factory supplied speakers is dismal. It's not too noticeable if you use the Renault radio but with my Clarion DB348 it's quite clear.

Quality. At 4000km my Astra had already been in the shop for problems with it's LPG system and my Peugeot was developing issues with it's airco. The Kangoo has (knock on wood) not had any issues whatsoever.

Despite these bad points and aside of the occasional nagging feeling of guilt about the fuel economy this is a car that makes me happy. A month after delivery I've always gotten used to a car. I'm used to this car but it still makes me happy. I really look forward to taking it for a drive again. I like it's handling, the view I have from the driver's seat, the color. It's a very likeable car for me. I'm trying to do something about the lousy mileage by coasting whenever possible which is easy because it's such a heavy car.

A nice car, recommended if you want a roomy family car for a decent price. I was a bit surprised to see that it "only" got a 4 star rating at Euro NCAP.
When shopping for a car in this class I would advice you to also check the new Berlingo/Partner and see what they are like. From what I've seen they are a bit more expensive and a comparable trim level.

my new car
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.

No comments: