Citroen Berlingo 2014 Review
Citroen has been making passenger-car-based vans for decades and the latest Berlingo benefits from this as it's on the same platform as a Citroen people mover.
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Though Renault is becoming increasingly well known in Australia as the marque that provides excellent hot hatches in the RS (RenaultSport) range, it's also keen to expand its light-commercial Kangoo range. Renault Kangoo - love the name, and the fact that arch-rival Peugeot produces a competitor for the Kangoo that's called the Jumper - is now offered in an increasing number of body types and options.
DESIGN / STYLING
The biggest news is the addition of a four-door crew-cab version called the Renault Kangoo Maxi Crew. Renault Kangoo has a short, rounded bonnet fronted up by a large pedestrian-friendly bumper. Boldly shaped wheel arches and merging styling lines give the new Kangoo a modern look.
If you've ever been amazed at the driving and parking antics of European city dwellers you will understand why the Kangoo's front guards are made from what Renault calls Noryl. This is a supple composite material that is able to absorb bumps and that is easy to replace if severe crashes make that necessary.
As the Kangoo Crew sits on the same long wheelbase as the two-door Kangoo Maxi van there's still plenty of space for cargo even if the rear seats are in use. The rear seat has a 60/40 split and the backrest can be folded to provide a completely flat floor. With the seats down, up to 4.0 cubic metres of cargo can be carried. When the back seats are in use the capacity is 1.3 cubic metres. Items up to 2.88 metres in length can be carried inside if the front passenger seat is folded forward. Maximum load is 710 kg.
Loads of up to 1218 mm wide will fit between the rear wheel arches. The asymmetrically split rear doors open through 90 and then 180-degrees. However, they can't be taken back to 270 degrees to permit reversing into very tight loading bays. As it's skinnier than the average full-sized van this may not to be a problem, but would have been a nice feature. On the positive side, the Kangoo Crew has a tight turning circle of just 10.7 metres. And the roof height of 1.8 metres is more SUV-like than van-like.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
A new design turbo-diesel engine is a big advance on that in the previous model Kangoo Maxi. It still has a capacity of 1.5 litres, but now puts out 81 kW of power and 240 Nm of torque. It's mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. There's no automatic option, the chiefs at Renault Australia tell us they are seriously hassling head office in France to design one.
We road tested the Kangoo with about 150 kg of passengers in the back seat and 100 kg of cargo in the load area and found it was more than happy to climb hills in high gears and lope along with minimum fuel consumption on the flat bits. The gearchange action is light and smooth, but see the above remarks about an auto option.
As it's based on a passenger car platform (from the Renault Scenic) the Kangoo rides in a very comfortable French manner and made light work of rough backroads during part of our test drive. Handling isn't a feature that's usually demanded by Australian van drivers, though their French cousins do like to hammer along. So there's a lot more road grip than you might anticipate.
The Crew's rear passenger doors are van-type sliding units on both side and we found entry and egress very simple due to the seats being higher than in a passenger car. There are five seats and all can take a normally size adult with no compromises in comfort. The seats are covered in hardwearing cloth trim.
Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control with a speed limiter, air conditioning and power front windows. But only two airbags are fitted as standard, you have to pay an additional $490 for side airbags to be fitted in the rear seats. Likewise a cargo barrier will add $1500 to the price.
Renault Kangoo received a four-start crash test rating after European NCAP testing. Kangoo comes with a factory three-year warranty that stretches to an impressive 200,000 kilometres. There's three years free roadside assistance. It's eligible for Renault's capped price service program of $349 per calendar year for the first three years.
Renault Kangoo has been the best-selling vehicle in its hotly contested market segment in Europe for many years, but has never really hit it off in Australia. Will this expansion in the range change this situation? Only time will tell, but it's certainly an attractive package at a reasonable price.
|1.6 SWB||1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$6,800 – 10,560||2014 Renault Kangoo 2014 1.6 SWB Pricing and Specs|
|Maxi||1.5L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$8,900 – 13,420||2014 Renault Kangoo 2014 Maxi Pricing and Specs|
|Maxi Crew||1.5L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$10,800 – 15,840||2014 Renault Kangoo 2014 Maxi Crew Pricing and Specs|