Strip out the seats of the standard Renault Kangoo and the pretty average sports utility vehicle becomes a fine utility Trekka van. It's ideal for small traders and services like local councils and the forestry commission.
And because of the SUV parentage, the Kangoo Trekka impresses behind the wheel. It's comfortable to drive on longer journeys, with the balanced chassis showing stability and confidence on the motorway. The pedestrian 1.9-litre 85bhp diesel needs a bit of prodding but, thanks to the 140lb-ft torque, which peaks at 2,000rpm, and weighted power distribution, it is capable under loads – volume capacity of 2.75cubic metres – and easy to drive around town. Like all Renault models, the Trekka does well in safety tests, with a Euro NCAP four-star rating.
Retailers should be looking to sell 600-700 Trekka vans this year, out of a total Kangoo sales volume of 10,000. That's up almost 10% on 2003.
There's really only one major sticking point and that's the asking price. Both its main competitors, the Citroen Berlingo and Fiat Doblo, start at less than £10,000 for the 1.9 diesel, and that's a sizeable saving over the Trekka. Granted, the Renault is better equipped. The unique feature is its permanent four-wheel drive system that will appeal to 'go anywhere' forestry and national parks organisations, and really does work off-road. The Trekka also gets an anti-intruder device and ABS as standard. But in this sector price is a key selling point and will hit the all-important running costs (yet to be confirmed, although its main rivals are around 25p per mile).
A bit pricey then, but well equipped with the 4x4 USP, and a comfortable driving experience for those who spend their working day on four wheels.
Strength: High spec, good to drive, spacious
Weakness: Bit pricey versus rivals
Opportunity: 4x4 will attract new buyers like national parks
Threat: Will running costs put buyers off?
The USP: Go-anywhere utility van
Transmission: 5sp man 4x4
Performance: 0-62mph 16.2s, top speed 88mph
Efficiency: 38.2mpg comb, 196g/km CO2 CAP RV: £4,700 (37%)
Rivals: Citroen Berlingo, Fiat Doblo, Ford Connect (Stephen Briers. May 11 2004)