All Kangoo models have great forward visibility, courtesy of the extensive windscreen and truncated bonnet, while the well-weighted steering and positive gearchange also impress. At the wheel of this Renault, you sit very upright, but quite comfortably thanks to the fact that both driver's seat and steering wheel are height-adjustable, plus there are remote controls for the stereo on the steering column. On country roads, the wide track means that there's actually a reasonable amount of grip, whilst in town, light electric power steering makes it easy to slot into tight spaces, although until you get used to the shape, judging the extremities of the car during parking manoeuvres can be slightly difficult as the bonnet slopes away from you. Performance is leisurely, with even the fastest diesel models taking around 13s to reach sixty from rest on the way to just over 100mph.
Almost all customers choose a 1.5-litre dCi diesel that's offered in 75 and 90bhp outputs, though you can get a 1.6-litre petrol automatic with 105bhp if you really want to. All variants can haul a braked trailer grossing at 1,050kg but if you're going to be doing that very often, we'd suggest you choose the range-topping 1.5 dCi 110bhp Kangoo Van Maxi engine, which puts out a useful 240Nm of torque. That means fewer gear changes for diesel drivers and a much more leisurely feel, especially when towing. The other option is the all-electric Z.E. 33 variant with its 60bhp output and operating range of around 170 miles between charge-ups.
There's a revised front end to distinguish this Phase II Kangoo but none of the things that matter have really changed. Whichever bodystyle you choose - the 4.2 metre-long Van or the 4.6 metre-long Van Maxi - the cab is pretty much identical. Even on the largest Kangoo, because the windscreen is placed well forward of the driver, the impression is that you're at the helm of a much bigger vehicle than you really are. Because this model doesn't have a raised roof, even in this biggest Maxi guise, its overall height of just 1.82m means it's compact enough to use in city centre car parks.
Inside, the basic dashboard design is still very user-friendly with its aviation-style handbrake designed to minimise strain on the wrist and dash-mounted gearlever. Certainly, by the standards of the compact van market, quality of fit and finish is impressive. The upright driving position also facilitates easy entries and exits. An enormous amount of headroom is present in the front of the Kangoo, enough so that all kinds of elaborate headgear could be accommodated should the occasion arise. Though there's no optional middle seat of the kind that some rivals offer, space for driver and passenger is more than adequate, with only the passenger legroom (slightly restricted by the sloping floor) giving any cause for concern. If you need to carry more than one passenger, then it's worth checking out the Maxi Crew Van variant.
Whether you go for a Kangoo Van or Kangoo Van Maxi model (the last-named also being offered as a 5-seat Crew Van), the engine choice is pretty simple. Nearly all buyers of the smaller bodystyle are directed to the 75bhp 1.5-litre dCi common rail diesel unit that crops up in all kinds of Renault models. You can get it in 90bhp form in the Van version, but if you're going to do that, you might as well go the whole hog and have a bigger Kangoo Van Maxi, which offers either 90 or 110bhp 1.5 dCi diesel power. There's also a 1.6-litre petrol auto version with 105bhp. Or a fully-electric Z.E. 33 version, offered with both bodystyles.
Whichever Kangoo you choose, you get a decent level of standard equipment, with items like Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity, a trip computer, power windows and mirrors, finger-tip remote controls for the CD stereo, plus remote central locking that allows you to lock and unlock the rear doors separately, while all the doors lock automatically when you drive off. Safety equipment includes an advanced ABS system with brake assist, a driver's airbag and pretensioner seatbelts. ASR traction control and ESC stability control are available as options on the largest models. And you can specify Renault's R-LINK multimedia system.
Given that no lesser industry light than Mercedes has based its own compact van upon it, you'd expect the Kangoo to be good. As it is in Phase II form. The ZE all-electric version still sets a new standard in its segment, while running costs are even more competitive than before. You'd also be quite shocked by just how much you can fit in the top Maxi version - enough to make you question whether a supposedly bigger Transit Custom or Vivaro-sized mid-range van model is really necessary.
Add in decent general ride comfort and the solidly-built interior and this Renault becomes a compact LCV that it's impossible to ignore. Whether or not you buy one may well all come down to the price you get and the proximity of your local franchise - in which case Renault dealers will likely feel quite confident in driving forward your business at the same time as driving forward theirs.