Test Drive : Renault Kangoo Z.E. 33


16-June-2019 – by Guillaume Séguin

The Kangoo Z.E.33 is the latest electric version of a line of electrified small Renault vans. The Express/Extra/Rapid had its electric variant, and the first generation of Kangoo was also electrified. It’s less known for its Elect’road variant, which was actually the first PHEV sold on the planet, made in a few hundreed units back in 2004! In 2011 Renault decides to offer its second generation of Kangoo the first electric variant officially distributed in Ireland, with a 22kWh battery pack. Today let’s have a look at the 2019 Kangoo Z.E.33.

 

So what is the Kangoo Z.E.33 ?

The Kangoo we know today was facelifted in 2013 and differs from the earlier version with its charging port hidden behind the front diamond, just like on a Zoé (the pre-facelift had a small offset hatch). This electric van for sure looks very similar to its diesel variant. As it suggests in its name the Kangoo Z.E.33 is equipped with a 33kWh battery (31kWh usable), coupled to a 60hp (44kw) motor, and offering a very healthy 225Nm of torque, for a weight of 1.4 ton. The Kangoo is also available in diesel and petrol and like many other converted/compromised EVs, it has a quite standard architecture : front motor, front wheel drive, with batteries placed below the vehicle, allowing the cargo volume to be strictly indentical as the one of the ICE versions. The payload is limited to 650kg.

The acceleration is quite uncommon : it feels just as quick to 50kph as many other EVs, thanks to this very good level of torque (A heavier 2015 Leaf offers 254Nm, a sporty BMW i3 has just 270Nm) but after that first kick, the limited power takes over and it feels like a 60hp van! Expect over 20 seconds to reach 100kph. The top speed is electronically limited to 130kph, which is enough to cruise on our motorways anyway. Overtaking on N roads will be problematic but for the rest and its primaries duties (short routes in and around the city), it’s just fine.

Range, Charging and driving modes

I was actually impressed with the range.. well the low output of the motor helps for sure ! Even if it’s rated at 44kw the gauge shows peaks of 50kw (67hp) whereas the eco mode limits the power to just 30kw! With such levels of power you can’t really drain the battery by flooring it!

I managed to complete 210km (50% city, 50% on the ring road/motorway) without driving particularly slowly… this is better than many other EVs that are supposed to be more adapted for long distances.

Because this Kangoo isn’t. The missing fast charging capability makes the Kangoo a short range tool. It can only charge at 7kw which means you need 5 hours to get a full charge and be able to drive for another 200km. Good bye trips to Ikea if you are living more than 100km away from Dublin!

If the lack of DC port (or the fast AC solution Renault provides on its Zoé) may sound like a deal breaker to many individuals, it isn’t for fleet managers who know exactly how many kilometres their vans are doing every single day. If this was a really a deal breaker (as it was on personal cars like the sadly forgotten Fluence Z.E.), Renault wouldn’t sell so well this Kangoo Z.E.33. Yes it sells very well in Europe and currently is simply the best selling electric van on that market.

How is it as an everyday car ?

The Kangoo is not a new van on the market, since it was launched over a decade ago. It does a good job as a van of course. Ergonomics are good with plenty of storage, equipment is rather basic but you can option it the way you want.
Strangely for an EV, it is a bit loud at higher speeds, because of the wind noise (like many vans to be fair) and there is no engine noise to cover that! You can feel that you are driving a Renault from the previous decade : the seats are soft and comfortable and you find some controls you once saw on a Mégane 2 or Clio3. Also the radio unit has the obligatory controls below the steering wheel. If you ask me, I find that these are the best radio controls around. There is a reason if Renault equips their cars and vans with this since the 80’s : spot on ergonomics. You can also get the same R-Link multimedia and Sat Nav system that equips the Zoé. But because it was retrofitted on the Kangoo, in lieu of an older system, the screen is far from the driver and you can’t easily operate the touch-screen. So it comes with a remote as well. Check out the video below for a tour of the Kangoo Z.E. 33 !

Renault Kangoo Z.E.33 Walkaround

To get you through winter with a preserved range, you can get a heat-pump and regardless, it is highly recommended to get a partition behind the seats so you don’t waste the heat in the cargo area. Pre-conditioning is also possible so on that side, it’s doing quite well!

Should I buy one ?

If you are managing a fleet of vans, of which some doing systematically less than 200 kilometres per day, you have to look at it. Postal services around Europe have bought Kangoo Z.E. for many years now, and it has proven to be an excellent solution for profesionals driving relatively small daily distances by lowering the total cost of ownership.

Next year, we will have a totally new version of the Kangoo, with probably a bigger battery and faster charging capability (and hopefully a 5-seater family version). A concept has been revealed earlier this year and we can’t wait to see that one on the roads!

Kangoo Z.E. Concept

Prices (May 2019) (including VAT, VRT, VRT relief, SEAI grant)
Kangoo Z.E. 33 Van – €28.840
Kangoo Z.E. 33 Maxi – €30.640
Kangoo Z.E. 33 Maxi Crew Van – €31.840
Kangoo Z.E. 33 Maxi Crew Van Cab – €33.040

Get to know more about the Kangoo Z.E.33 on Renault website

Big thanks to Kearys Renault Pro+ Cork for lending this van