BARCELONA - Renault successfully kept its Kangoo people mover a secret until it was revealed at the Barcelona auto show.
The new light van was presented at Barcelona with five seats and rear glass windows. Two Combi versions offered different rear-door treatments. One had a massive rear hatch with vertical opening, while the other sported an asymmetrical two-leaf back door.
'Kangoo represents a new class of cars,' said Remi Deconinck, product manager. 'It is oriented to people who, after a working day, want to have some leisure and carry a bicycle to pedal in the park, or engage in diverse activities during the weekend. It is a car that comes close to a van.'
Deconinck, 47, has been with Renault for 20 years. He has worked on other advanced projects, and is now a product manager for the Kangoo.
'Kangoo's floorpan is absolutely new, with no carry-over from previous vehicles,' he said. 'Suspension and layout are the same as the future Clio, with a different wheelbase of course.' Suspensions keep the usual scheme of MacPherson struts in front and trailing arms plus torsion bars at the rear.
The roomy van is tall (1820mm) but compact in other dimensions. It is 3990mm long and 1660mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2590mm. Its direct rival is the Citroen Berlingo, which is 4110mm long and 1720mm wide. Renault says cargo volume is 650 liters, compared with the Berlingo's 580 liters.
Rear seats can be removed to provide 2.6 cubic meters of space.
The body shows styling hints of the future Clio in the front. There is a cozy cabin, with a peculiar dashboard that is midway between a van and a touring car.
A rear sliding door on the right side gives access to the rear bench seat, which is foldable and asymmetrically split.
The range offers several engines: gasoline 1.1-liter and 1.4-liter engines making 60ps and and 75ps, and a 1.9-liter diesel with new injection system in 55ps and 65ps versions.
Kangoo production is scheduled for the Maubeuge factory in northern France at a rate of 700 units per day. It could ultimately be expanded to 890 units if required. Sales begin at year's end in France and early 1998 in the rest of Europe. Pricing has not been decided.