Formula One connections aside, Kangoo’s EDC gearbox is well worth a look, says Dan Gilkes.
While the paint scheme may be the most noticeable feature of this Renault Kangoo, its transmission is in fact the more interesting option. That’s because this Formula Edition Kangoo has been equipped with Renault’s Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) transmission, a six-speed dry clutch automated box that can be used in full auto or semi-auto modes.
You don’t have to have the Formula Edition van to access the EDC box, though you do have to have the top-specification Business+ trim if you don’t want the black and yellow paint. The EDC box is available with a choice of 90bhp or this 110bhp version of Renault’s 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine though.
Shouldering a £2,000 premium is not going to make EDC a popular option, which is unfortunate as it works really well. Despite the six gears, the automated transmission also delivers around 9-10mpg less than a standard manual, while CO2 figures rise by 17g/km to 132g/km.
However, if you can see past that, EDC has to be the way forward for urban delivery drivers. There is a bit of hesitation from standstill, but once moving the gearbox is incredibly smooth, slurring up and down through the gears imperceptibly and leaving the driver free to concentrate on road conditions and sat nav directions.
As is so often the case, while you can change gears yourself, it is hardly worth it, unless you need to hold a gear for any reason. Far better to leave the transmission to do the work for you.
Of course, if cost is not such a consideration, then you may well be tempted by the Formula Edition trim as well. Designed to celebrate the fact that Renault Pro+ is the official logistics partner of the Renault Sport Formula One team, you get more than the black and yellow paint job for your £1,600 investment.
The Formula Edition builds upon the range-topping Business+ trim, with cruise control, a leather-clad steering wheel, Formula edition floor mats, front fog lights with Sirius Yellow surrounds, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch black alloy wheels and a black grille and Renault badge.
The Business+ trim level already includes electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, body-coloured bumpers, rear parking sensors, a centre console with armrest and an overhead parcel shelf.
Fortunately, the Formula Edition Kangoo loses none of the practicality of the standard van, with a 3.0m3 load volume that can be extended to 3.6m3 if you opt for a folding mesh bulkhead and fold-flat passenger seat. The van retains its 650kg payload too, making it a very practical urban hauler.
In truth few fleets are going to opt for the Formula Edition model, the owner-driver and SME are more its intended customer base. But see past the striking graphics of this particular test van, or simply order the Kangoo in Business+ specification and the EDC transmission is certainly well worth a closer look, even with the higher purchase and operating costs. The automated transmission really lifts the driving experience in the compact Renault.
What we think
There’s a hefty premium to pay, but Renault’s EDC transmission makes life considerably easier for the urban delivery driver.
Model: Renault Kangoo ML19 dCi110 Auto Formula Edition
Basic Price: £20,145
Engine: 4-cyl/1,461 cc
Fuel injection: Common-rail
Power: 110bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1,750rpm
Kerb weight: 1,300kg
Max trailer weight: 1,050kg
Load space length: 1,731mm
Load space width: 1,219mm
Load space height: 1,251mm
Load volume: 3.0m3
Combined CO2/mpg: 132g/km/55.4mpg
Fuel tank capacity: 60 litres
Warranty: 4 year/100,000 miles