Renault Kangoo Estate 2003 - 2008

Renault Kangoo Estate 2003 - 2008

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Enough space for 5 people and their luggage
  • Practical and reliable
  • An attractive 4x4 version available

Cons:

  • Smaller engines should be avoided
  • Characterless interiors

Overview

From a distance the Kangoo looks like a glorified pick-up truck, but it should be noted that the French has got that entire glorification procedure right. It's an economical and versatile vehicle good for both families and small businesses. French designers have played with the idea of a small leisure activity pick-up for decades. There have been attempts within Renault to offer pick-ups based on their mini cars. The Renault Vagonette (based on the model 4) and Express (based on the model 5) were a step in the right direction, but it was a little known Matra Rancher that developed the idea to its full in 1974. The Kangoo simply made the whole leisure activity thing mainstream.

Exterior and Interior

It is a cute car and leaves a good impression. The rounded classic pick-up silhouette with the massive plastic bumpers and jolly colour options, both inside and out, makes the car appeal to a younger buyer. It is recognisably Renault and follows the design trends featured on its contemporary Twingo and Clio models. The high body with sliding side doors improves access to the cabin. One criticism that we might have is the 13-inch wheels that on a relatively big car look like trolley wheels. It also leaves an impression that the Kangoo might tip over easily, however, it won't. It has been though all the necessary safety tests and hasn't shown evidence of any serious safety issues. The interior is utilitarian and simple. There was no necessity to use luxury materials or clever layouts inside the Kangoo. It had to remain relatively simple and hard-wearing so that it could be enjoyed by an active family or a person doing small deliveries. The cabin is surprisingly versatile. You decide what you're going to do with the rear seats. One option is to fold them and slightly increase the standard 500litre boot space. An even better option is to take the seats out altogether and make use of the 2380litre cargo bay, the same volume as the long wheel-base Land Rover Defender only at a fraction of the price. The list of equipment of a Kangoo is rather short and unimpressive, at least until the 2003 face-lift. Older Kangoos are barely anything more than a delivery van with an extra row of seats.

Performance and Economy

If you're not buying a Kangoo for appearances sake and actually want it to get a job done, avoid the 1.1-litre and 1.2-litre engines. They will struggle to get the car moving when fully loaded. Two versions that are often preferred by buyers are the 1.5-litre common rail diesel and the 1.6-litre petrol unit. The little diesel offers 53mpg and with 82bhp is marginally good enough for this pick-up. If you don't mind waiting 12 seconds to accelerate to 60mph, the diesel version should make a good choice considering its reliability and economy. The 1.6-litre petrol engine gives 37mpg and is capable of a quicker acceleration.

Like to Drive

Although it was advertised as a hip and youthful vehicle, there's very little excitement associated with driving a Kangoo. The majority of the engines offered with a Kangoo are clearly underpowered. If you're trying to drive it enthusiastically, especially when it carries cargo or passengers, prepare to be disappointed. The 4x4 Trekka version is the closest to being fun to drive than any other Kangoo modification. It comes with bigger wheels (makes the car look much nicer) and has decent off-road abilities. With the 1.6-litre petrol engine it has got plenty of oomph and is actually quite pleasant to drive.

Faults and Repairs

A basic car like this should be relatively easy to maintain. It doesn't cost a fortune to keep the Kangoo happy. It only needs the basic maintenance and a guarantee that it won't be asked to haul more than half a ton of cargo (or passengers). Many people have used Kangoos as delivery vehicles, so before buying a used Renault Kangoo, you should listen to engine noises and check the clutch.