What are you driving?
The second-generation Renault Kangoo ZE van. That ZE stands for Zero Emissions, so this is a purely electric commercial vehicle, designed for businesses based in and around a town or city. The 33kWh battery pack has an official range of 270 kilometres on the theoretical NEDC test cycle, but Renault reckons it'll do about 200km in summer or 120km in winter. Obviously, that'll depend on how much you load it up. We saw a range of about 185km during warm summer weather and with a light load.
Charging up an empty battery (done via a socket behind the Renault diamond on the nose) takes as much as 11 hours using a 3.7kW supply or 6 hours hooked up to a 7kW source. There's no fast charger on board as Renault expects this van to appeal solely to businesses that won't need all of its range every day, hence they can get by with charging it up overnight rather than taking it off-duty during the day in search of a rapid charge.
Name its best bits
We like the simplicity of the Kangoo ZE. Coming from a regular road car, the hard plastics and lack of tactile materials is a bit of a shock, but this is a working vehicle, after all. Everything you need is in the cabin and close to hand and easy to operate. Thanks to the single-speed automatic transmission, it couldn't be easier to drive, either. The load bay is large and trimmed in what appears to be a durable material, while the doors accessing it are light. On the road, the Kangoo ZE is comfortable and much quieter in traffic than a diesel alternative would be. Along with all that, of course, the ZE model is very cheap to run, with low 'per km' rates and less maintenance costs than a diesel equivalent.
Anything that bugs you?
Initially, I was bemused by the van's inability to exceed 110km/h, but then I discovered that the Kangoo ZE can usually do 130km/h and our test vehicle had been fitted with the optional limiter... Don't fit that if you plan on bringing the Kangoo ZE onto motorways. Top speed aside, this is one of slowest accelerating electric vehicles around, so be prepared for that when entering busy junctions and the like. Oh, and the door mirrors are barely adequate in terms of size to help see the blind spot.
And why have you given it this rating?
The Kangoo ZE isn't an amazing vehicle, but it has little competition and is becoming more relevant by the day. If the government starts to take urban air pollution seriously, electric vans such as this could suddenly be in high demand.