THE most successful small electric van in Europe, with over 25,000 sold and winner of the Best Green Van at this year’s Business Van Awards, the Renault Kangoo Z.E. has been updated with the Renault Kangoo ZE 33.
Although the outgoing Kangoo Z.E. made more of an impression on UK buyers than rivals, mainly due to the company making going electric easy and affordable, the limited range affected its usefulness.
Well the biggest difference over the outgoing model is this Kangoo’s new 33kW/h battery, which equals a class-leading range of 170 miles on a single charge.
On top of the new battery, to help the driving range, there’s also a new heat pump in the air-conditioning system, which in cold weather works by restricting the use of electrical resistors that consume power. Although sadly the pump and air-conditioning, which make the most of the driving range, are a costly option in the UK.
But what’s the Kangoo ZE 33 like on the road? Business Vans headed to France to find out in this first drive.
- 60bhp doesn’t sound like much performance, plus our test Kangoo had a 250kg load in the back, which wiped out that expected initial torque burst (225Nm). This meant that the latest electric version of Renault’s smallest van didn’t feel as keen off the mark as expected. However, once up and running, the Z.E. quickly builds speed, although with the load, hills take more concentration and planning than expected.
- Renault claim a 170-mile range on the NEDC cycle, which in reality is about 120 miles in the summer. This is still impressive, meaning the Kangoo Z.E.. could do more than urban work. There’s now also a Permanent ECO mode, rather than the previous switchable button, thus increasing the range by 10 per cent.
- More good news is that on top of the extra range, Renault have made charging the Kangoo Z.E. easier and faster too – thanks to a new charger that’s twice as powerful as the one it replaces. A full charge via a 32A socket now takes just six hours – that’s an hour quicker than before. Only got time for a shorter charge? No problem, you’ll get 22 miles of range with just one hour’s charge.
- New battery or not, you’ll be pleased to know that the new power has had no negative effect on the Kangoo Z.E.’s practicality. It has the same 640kg payload, as the new 33kWh battery is no bigger and hidden under the load floor.
- Easy and relaxing to drive, all you need to get going in this all-electric van is twist the key, select ‘D’ from the auto box, release the handbrake and you’re off in eerie quiet comfort. The high levels of refinement remain when you’re on the move, as even with the extra 250kg on board, the Kangoo’s ride was unaffected, remaining composed and comfortable. The steering is reasonably precise, but there’s too much body roll for it to be any fun.
- The Kangoo Z.E. 33 is available in three different flavours: the standard we have here, plus Maxi and Maxi Crew versions. The standard version is 4.28 metres long and has a carrying capacity of 3.0 cubic metres, move up to the Maxi which is 4.66 metres and has a 4.6 cubic metre carrying capacity. Go for the Maxi Crew version and you get five-seats, but a reduced load volume of 3.4 cubic metres.
- Outside, there’s no change for the new 33 over the outgoing version. In fact, the only obvious giveaway is the large blue “ZE ELECTRIC’ sticker on the right rear door. Still, the Kangoo is a modern-looking van, that suits being electrically-powered.
- The driving position is really comfortable and the Kangoo’s interior feels spacious and in general the switchgear is logically-placed.
- New Kangoo Z.E. 33 standard equipment includes smartphone replication, where drivers will have access to Android apps via the R-LINK Evolution infotainment system. Plus, LED cargo area lighting and a wide view anti-blind spot mirror.
- Confirmed UK prices are yet to be announced and although up from the previous model, they seem good value when compared with the opposition. Most current Kangoo Z.E. owners tend to rent their batteries rather than include them in the final cost. Buy the 33 version that way and prices are expected to start at £14,700, plus £50 a month for battery rental – this also removes the worry of how durable these batteries are. Include the battery and the indicative price rises to £17,800.
- Renault are making great claims for the extra range that having this new pump in the air-conditioning gives. It’s a shame then, that we were told the heat pump and air-conditioning will be a £965 option when the Kangoo Z.E. 33 hits UK shores. This is a significant option, as if you choose to go without, a Renault spokesman admitted this electric van is up to 15% less efficient.
- The Kangoo’s interior might be modern and spacious, but the plastics are scratchy and feel a bit low rent. We welcomed the fitting of a Tom Tom-based sat-nav in our test van, but it was a bit over complicated in use and its touch-screen operation seemed at odds with the fact it was fitted deep in the top of the centre console, meaning the driver has a real stretch to get it to work.
Verdict on Renault Kangoo ZE 33
Whether it’s an electric car or in this case a van, range anxiety has always been a stumbling block to buyers choosing it over conventional power. With the new 33kWh battery and more rapid charging, Renault has made it harder to ignore the electric Kangoo as a viable alternative.
Add in the comfortable ride and the fact it’s so easy to drive, it’s no wonder it won our Best Green Van award this year – this is the pick of small electric vans in our opinion.
Lowdown on the Renault Kangoo ZE 33:
|Indicative price on road:||£17,800 including battery|
|Load width (max):||1218mm|
|Load capacity:||4 cu m|
|Towing Capacity braked/unbraked:||n/a Akg|
|Engine:||44kW electric motor|
|Economy (combined)/ range claimed:||170 miles|