The Kangoo light van has been a success story for Renault since its launch back in 1997.
The second-generation model followed in 2007 and became the donor van for the Mercedes Citan in 2012 before a facelift the following year.
The introduction of the plug-in Kangoo Z.E. in 2011 brought more prominence to the Kangoo name as it quickly became established as the top-selling electric van in the world.
With the third generation of the conventional Kangoo van expected to arrive within the next year or so the manufacturer gave the current model a shot in the arm in September 2017 by adding double-clutch automatic transmission to the line-up.
The gearbox, which is already offered across the brand’s range of cars, is mated to its 90hp and 110hp diesel vans. Renault says a shift time between gears of just 290 milliseconds facilitates smooth progress, and that the gearbox adds a ‘creep’ function to make it easier to crawl in traffic as well as helping the van to pull away comfortably when the brake pedal is released.
The standard inclusion of hill-start assist also reduces the strain for drivers operating in urban environments.
Renault has sought to capitalise on the glamour of its Renault Sport Formula One Team by launching Formula Edition versions of its Kangoo, Trafic and Master vans.
Unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April 2017 the models went on sale the following September.
Standard equipment on the Formula Edition Kangoo is based on the Business+ trim and includes aircon, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connections.
The Kangoo Formula Edition range is priced between £17,695 and £20,145, excluding VAT.
We got behind the wheel of the Formula Edition with the 110hp version of the dCI 1.5-litre engine and the six-speed automatic transmission in Pearlescent Black. The other option is Star Grey.
The model’s visual sportiness is enhanced by yellow highlights taking in the grille, fog lights and Renault’s diamond badge as well as Formula Edition side decals. Other enhanced-style features distinguishing the Formula Edition Kangoo include 15in alloy wheels, dark grey side-protection mouldings and body-colour bumpers at both the front and rear.
Renault is keen to point out that technical advances developed for the Formula One track, such as reinforced aluminium pistons, regenerative braking and aerodynamic design to improve power and fuel economy have also filtered down into the road vans.
The Formula Edition gets cruise control to take the strain out of long motorway trips, and if you happen upon wet, muddy or icy terrain then enhanced traction Grip Xtend should get you through.
There’s not much in the way of cockpit functionality to help the driver find the best position apart from a height-adjustable driver’s seat, but you do get to look the part with a leather steering wheel, Formula Edition upholstery and floor mats, and a smart, dark carbon dashboard.
More practical is the overhead shelf in the cabin, a closable glove box and a central console with an armrest.
There are a pair of cup holders between the seats, but we found the handbrake contrives to get in the way of both of these when being applied and released.
Other options on our van included a swivelling bulkhead with folding passenger seat (£225), which increases load volume from 3.0m3 to 3.6m3, a sliding rear roof flap (£220), automatic headlamps and wipers (£210), and Renault’s R-Link multimedia system (£675).
The load area, which includes six load tie-down points, is accessed through two asymmetric rear doors opening to 180° as well as a standard nearside sliding door, but we also got an optional far-side door for £230 (all prices exclude VAT). Rear parking sensors should protect the load bay from scrapes and dents.
The 110hp Formula Edition is a sprightly performer and we found no reason to dispute the manufacturer’s claims about the smoothness of its automatic shifts. Taut steering also helps it handle well and the van actually seems nippier than the stated 0-62mph sprint time of 12.7 seconds – but perhaps that’s an illusion caused by all the sporty bling.
Renault Kangoo ML 19 dCi 110 Auto Formula Edition
Price (ex VAT) £20,145
Price range (ex VAT) £17,695-£20,145
Insurance group 32
Service intervals 1yr/18,000mls
Load length 1,731mm
Load width (min/max) 1,218-1,464mm
Load bay height 1,251mm
Gross payload 650kg
Load volume 3.6m3
Engine size/power 1,461cc/110hp
Combined fuel economy 55.4mpg
The automatic transmission is impressively smooth while the Formula Edition style features add a touch of dash to the Kangoo