Steve Banner longs for tinted windows and another gear as he racks up plenty of miles during an epic return trip from Herefordshire to Eire in our long-term Renault Kangoo
We keep being told that crime figures are falling nationally, yet we’re still nervous about our long-term test Renault Kangoo’s glazed rear doors.
With barely the semblance of a tint, the windows seem to us to be an open invitation to the less-than-honest to peer into the 3.0m3 load area to see if there is anything worth pinching. Then if they spot something they fancy that’s portable and they can reach it, all they need to do is look around for a handy brick.
Okay, so rear glazing makes it easier for the driver to see what is directly behind the vehicle. That advantage disappears, however, if the cargo compartment is stacked to the roof with cartons.
In any event, our 90hp 1.5-litre Kangoo diesel is equipped with optional reversing sensors that quickly pick up anything that might obstruct your progress backwards. And when we say anything, we mean anything. If they spot a wayward dandelion or a wandering ant then they start beeping in the way they might if we were about to back into an elephant; not that you see too many elephants wandering around in rural Herefordshire. As a consequence, you have to hop out of the cab to see what’s causing the problem. The answer, invariably, is very little.
There is, thus, a risk that the sensors will ultimately be ignored, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Happily, no disasters occurred on the Kangoo’s epic long-haul run from Herefordshire to Cork in the Republic of Ireland and back – a 700-mile round-trip by road, plus ferry crossings between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire. What with all the running around in Ireland itself the Renault clocked up a whopping 1400 miles in a week, almost always with at least some cargo in the back, but never fully laden.
While the south of Ireland is to be commended for its motorways (smooth surfaces and a lot less congestion than in the UK), its rural roads, like ours, can leave something to be desired. The Kangoo, however, survived the exercise remarkably unscathed, bar some loose trim in the passenger footwell – which was rapidly re-attached – and a lot of creaking from the suspension (the suspension continues to emit the odd squeak and occasional groan).
Nor were there any complaints about the seats, which offered sufficient support and scope for adjustment to keep the occupants happy as the miles flashed by. And while even the smallest item deposited in the glove box resulted in the lid refusing to close, the large lidded bin between the seats seemed capable of swallowing all sorts of junk.
There was one thing we longed for, though, and that was a sixth gear. Every quarter of an hour as we hammered along Ireland’s M7 and M8 motorways we automatically attempted to change up from fifth to bring down the engine speed and noise, only to be instantly frustrated, of course.
While that was not an issue as we chugged through slow-moving traffic in Cork city centre or as we pottered around the rural roads of counties Cork, Waterford and Tipperary, it became a source of irritation when we tackled inter-city runs. Plus, another gear could have done wonders for our fuel consumption, which now sits at an admittedly decent 55.5mpg.