Steve Banner finds the Kangoo’s girafon stretches credibility, but he is grateful for the purchase the van’s grip Xtend provides on wet surfaces
Is a girafon worth the money? Come to think of it, what’s a girafon anyway?
Fitted by French light commercial manufacturers in particular, it is a flap mounted on the van’s roof close to the back doors through which items that are a bit too long to fit into the load compartment can be poked. the name suggests that it might just come in handy if you are taking your pet giraffe out for a sunday afternoon drive.
Our long-term-test Phase 2 Renault Kangoo sport happens to be equipped with one for an extra £220. to deploy it all you need to do is open the van’s rear doors and release the flap’s retaining catch. a small gas-filled strut on either side of the flap ensures that it rises unaided and you can then slide it forwards over the roof until it clicks into place. to close it, all you need to do is release the catch again and pull sharply down on a grab-handle.
Pushing long items through the hole thus created can be a slightly awkward exercise. But rather more concerning is the danger that by doing so you will forget that you have in effect made your van a good deal higher than it was previously, only to be rudely reminded if the plank or ladder smacks into an overhead obstruction. Just pray it’s not a low-hanging power line.
There is, of course, always the risk that whatever you are carrying in the van’s 3.0m3 load area will get wet if there is a sudden, heavy downpour while the flap is open, especially if you leave your Kangoo parked in the street having forgotten to close it...
Our view? If you need to use your girafon regularly then perhaps you need to question whether you are running the right length of van for your business. Maybe a Kangoo Maxi would make more sense than the standard Kangoo model.
Our van also comes with the ability to extend the load bed into the cab, but as a consequence you lose the use of the passenger seat, which is a drawback if you need to carry a colleague with you.
What cannot be denied is the value of our Kangoo sport’s standard R-Link multimedia system, which embraces tomtom Live satellite navigation.
We’ve been making extensive use of the satnav system of late, and while we have encountered the odd problem (difficulties entering the postcodes of destinations and increasing the volume of the audible ‘turn left, turn right’ instructions) it has proved more than worthwhile thanks to its ability to divert us around traffic jams. What is more, the on-screen display is clear and easy to follow.
That’s the good news, On the downside, the level of in-cab racket is becoming a bit wearing.
While there are precious few decibels emanating from the 90hp 1.5-litre diesel, there is way too much wind noise and road roar from the rear of the vehicle thanks to the lack of a solid, full- height bulkhead to blot it out.
A typical British summer features lots of jolly outdoor events with parking on grass, and lots of heavy rain. as we’ve squelched through the mud we’ve been almost pathetically grateful for the presence of grip Xtend as part of the Electronic stability Control system, which gives you a bit more purchase on tricky surfaces.
However, that does not excuse Renault’s decision to make EsC a £350 optional extra. It should without a shadow of a doubt be standard, and will have to be shortly, with Eu rules making it mandatory for all new vehicles in November 2014.