Renault Kangoo Expression 1.5 dCi

Under the boxy bodywork, all-new model is pure Renault Scenic.

Budget MPVs are historically derived from small vans – but not any more. Like Citroen, Renault has chosen to base its latest offering on road car underpinnings, and the Kangoo uses the same platform as the Scenic. Will this be enough to propel it to the top of the class?

Not from the outside. The new Kangoo still looks like a van with windows. Its tall roofline, sliding rear doors and unsculpted flanks are what we’ve come to expect from models in this sector, so buyers hoping for a new look will be disappointed.

Two trim levels are available, and showroom versions of our Expression test car will come with body-coloured bumpers, which will improve matters. But entry-level Extreme versions will look just like the Kangoo in our pictures, and the unpainted bumpers do its appearance few favours.

The evolutionary approach to styling is reflected by its larger dimensions, although the Renault is still 167mm shorter than the Citroen. Its cabin provides acres of space, and there’s more headroom than you’ll ever need. Rear passengers also enjoy more legroom than in the Berlingo.

The only place where the Renault loses out is in the boot, as its 660-litre load area can’t match the Berlingo’s 675 litres. If you fold the rear seats, the difference is even greater, as the Citroen’s impressive 3,000-litre capacity trumps the 2,866-litre Renault. More of a concern is the gap in interior quality, as the Renault dashboard is dominated by unappealing plastics, which have lots of sharp edges. The switchgear also feels cheap.

Still, there are many pleasing touches. For example, in Expression trim, the rigid load cover has two height settings and doubles as a useful shelf. And the rear seat squabs neatly compress downwards as you fold the backrests forward, to create a flat load area.

A host of useful storage cubbies can also be found, including a large overhead bin above the second row of seats. However, air-conditioning is a £550 extra. Up front, the elevated driving position combines with a huge glass area to give an impressive view of the road. The low window line also means even small children can see out.

Despite its tall stance, body roll is reasonably well controlled, and ride comfort is excellent. Only the notchy gearshift and vocal 1.5-litre diesel let things down – the Kangoo needs more sound insulation.

What it lacks in refinement the 85bhp engine makes up for with efficiency. Our test car returned 38.2mpg, compared to 33.2mpg in the Berlingo. Lower CO2 emissions add to its green credentials – but do they give the Kangoo the edge?

In detail

* Price: £13,300 * Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 85bhp * 0-60mph: 14.2 seconds * AE economy: 38.2mpg * Euro NCAP rating: Four stars

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: The original Kangoo helped shift attitudes towards budget MPVs. Can the new model follow up its success?

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