Nissan Kubistar is First Produced
The Renault Kangoo and Kangoo Express are panel van and leisure activity vehicle produced by French automaker Renault since 1997.
The Kangoo is manufactured in the MCA plant in Maubeuge, France, and in Santa Isabel, Argentina. It is also sold by Nissan in Latin America and Europe as the Kubistar.
The first generation Kangoo was introduced in 1997. It was facelifted in 2003, resulting in a Phase II model. The Phase II vehicles are distinguished by their new nose styling, standardised across the Renault range, with the Renault diamond mounted on a body colour panel in the centre of the grille and teardrop headlamps.
The rear windows and seats of the Kangoo could be removed, producing the panel van Kangoo Express. The Kangoo became popular with the mobility-impaired and wheelchair users due to its height and accessibility and because it could be adapted to include mounting points for wheelchairs.
Both the Kangoo and Kangoo Express were available in four-wheel drive versions and a lengthened version was also available, with an increased cargo area. A pickup truck version was sold in the Swedish market. In some countries, such as Malaysia, the Kangoo was assembled by Nissan with a third row of 3 seats.
The 4WD version of the Kangoo was introduced in 2002 and was marketed under the model name Trekka. It should not be confused with the Skoda-powered New Zealand built utility vehicle named Trekka, which was marketed in the Antipodes for several years around 1970 .
The Kangoo Trekka's all-wheel drive system differed from the Renault Scenic RX4 in its inclusion of a Nissan sourced automatic torque coupling "ATC", an hydraulic coupling that would engage drive on all four wheels should the front wheels start to lose traction. This still allowed the Kangoo Trekka to run in front wheel drive in most conditions, saving fuel. Working in combination with the ATC, the Kangoo Trekka also featured an electronically controlled "ASR" traction control system which could brake the front wheels to arrest traction loss.
The suspension was similar to the standard Kangoo only strengthened and raised to provide better ground clearance and wheel travel. These changes gave the Kangoo Trekka good approach and departure angles, a 400 mm fording depth and 28-degree hill-climbing capability. The Kangoo Trekka was marketed in the United Kingdom with a choice of two engines, the 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol engine and the 1.9-litre dCi common-rail turbodiesel. In 2005 these models were priced at £12,600 and £13,600 respectively. The Diesel produced a peak torque of 133 lb/ft and returned over 40mpg on the combined (urban and extra urban) fuel consumption test. The petrol engine had a 0-60 mph time of 14.3 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 31.4mpg.
The interior of the Kangoo Trekka was spartan and easy to clean. The rear bench seat could be folded forward to provide a 2500-litre loading area to which sliding side doors provided good access. In addition to 60 litre side bins, the cabin featured overhead bins to provide additional oddments space.
The comfort-rich leisure activity vehicle
Kangoo is dedicated to leisure with its spacious, comfortable interior. The light-filled cabin houses five real seats. For passenger comfort and easier access, it features two wide sliding side doors with power window lifts. And with the thermal and acoustic comfort of an MPV, Kangoo really is the ideal car for families.
A versatile cabin for all your needs
Whether you’re transporting big buys, DIY equipment or bikes, Kangoo’s rear bench folds down instantly to provide a flat load area for objects up to 2.5 m long. For vacations, the roof bars can be converted into an 80-kg luggage rack in no time at all. In addition, the cabin is full of ingenious storage spaces for all passengers, with a cubby hidden in the central armrest, flaps at the back, and even plane-like overhead compartments!
Robust, environmental engines
Kangoo comes with a range of reliable engines adapted to diverse needs. It can be fitted with petrol and diesel units (with particulate filters). Two versions qualify for the Renault eco² signature, emitting less than 140 g/km of CO2.
Kangoo has a wealth of advanced driving aids for passenger safety, including cruise control with a speed limiter and automatic headlights, along with airbags (from two to six depending on the version) and seatbelt pretensioners for optimal support in the event of impact.
The Kubistar Completes Nissans Rapidly Expanding LCV Product Range. Like Many Of Its Stablemates, Its Not Nissan Through And Through But It Is A Highly Competitive Product. Steve Walker Reports
Nissans profile as a manufacturer of commercial vehicles has been transformed, over a very short period, from that of an also-ran specialising in the four-wheel-drive sector of the market to that of a major player with the most diverse CV product Range of any UK manufacturer. Theyve managed this through the sneaky backdoor route of sticking their own badges on the van Range produced by parent company Renault and selling the resulting Nissan vans at Nissan dealerships. It all began with the Interstar, a large panel van sharing nearly everything, bar the name on its grille, with the Renault Master. Then we saw the smaller Primastar, which carries much more than a passing resemblance to the Renault Trafic, and the most recent piece in the jigsaw is the Kubistar.
Yes, youve guessed it, a re-branded Renault Kangoo van.
What all this means is that Nissan have acquired a top-notch light commercial vehicle Range in next to no time, with the minimum of effort and expenditure on their part. This is great for Nissan and far from bad for UK van buyers who now have an increased selection of manufacturers from which to acquire their vehicles. Platform sharing shenanigans like these are far from unusual in commercial vehicle land where partnerships between companies whishing to share (or avoid) the development costs of new products are commonplace. For example, its not just Nissan that sell versions of the Renault Master and Trafic vans, Vauxhall offer these vehicles too.
Only theirs are called Movano and Vivaro. Renault have a strong reputation for producing well-rounded, dependable commercial vehicles and now Nissan can supply those vehicles too. Theyve become reputable by association. The Kubistar is a small van in the mould of Citroens Berlingo, Fiats Doblo Cargo and the Ford Transit Connect.
Its ideal for delivery drivers who need to zip through our congested conurbations without getting too snarled up or, indeed, any business that can get away with a 600-800kg payload and doesnt want to operate a larger, more ungainly panel van. In line with its petite size and nippy driving characteristics, the Kubistar offers cute looks with a touch of style. The headlights and the clear-lens indicators are incorporated together into an eye-shaped cluster that gives the van a pleasant, kind-of-surprised face. Theres the typical Nissan grille in-between and a deep, dark plastic bumper.
At the back, the lighting is arRanged attractively, running vertically up the Kubistars corner edges.
"You might not be expecting very much from a 1.5-litre engine in a van of this size"
Inside, the materials used are standard commercial vehicle fare. Strong plastics and simple controls predominate with nothing out of the ordinary. There are shallow door bins along with cubby holes (Should that be Kubi holes?) beneath the small glovebox and in front of the gearstick for extra storage. Recesses for paperwork on top of the dash are fine but anything thats in them when you star moving is likely to be in the passenger foot well by the time you stop.
Theres an engine line-up of two available to drive the Kubistar forward. Diesel is the fuel of choice for commercial operators at present and if you insist on filling up on it, the choice is halved to just one. The 1.5dCi engine is one of these new-fangled common-rail injection set-ups that is said to deliver improvements in performance, refinement and economy over old-style oil-burners.
Its available tuned to outputs of 57, 65 or 82bhp and its a competent performer. Youll find the engine quiet after the initial clatter on start-up and the power delivery reasonably flexible, although for real progress youll need to keep the rev-counter on the boil in the middle of the Range. You might not be expecting very much from a 1.5-litre engine in a van of this size when most of the Kubistars competitors use 1.
9 or 2.0-units but performance is more than adequate, especially in 82bhp form. The engine is extremely economical as well, with combined cycle figures of 51 to 53mpg quoted - depending on which power output you choose. If you prefer to avoid the red-handled pumps, a 60bhp, 41mpg 1.
2-litre 16-valve petrol engine is also in the brochure. The specification of your Kubistar will be either E or SE. E is the bog-standard level but can still provide bulkhead, rubber load mat, remote central locking, power steering and an airbag amongst other things. SE goes further by adding electric windows, a CD player, ABS brakes and a storage shelf in the roof.
Beyond this things get a little more complicated. The Nissan marketing department have assembled five packs, which you can specify, for a cost, on your Kubistar. Theres the Climate Pack, the Style Pack, the Safety Pack, the Glazing Pack and the intriguingly named Modularity Pack (folding passenger seat, roof flap and swivelling bulkhead). Whether its easier and better to pick a few packs or choose exactly what you want from a normal options list is still up for debate but Nissan claim the packs are cheaper than the sum of their parts.
Payloads of 620kg (1.5-litre dCi models) and 625kg (1.2-litre petrol models) are possible in the Kubistar but with the two more powerful diesels in SE spec you can hand over an additional £250 and have the capacity increased to 800kg. Whatever route you take, the goods are stowed through side-hinged rear doors or optional sliding side doors in a 3 cubic-metre load box.
The space is 1.6m long and 1.1m wide between the wheelarches, so theres space for a standard Euro pallet. All the usual shelf-fixing and load-lashing points are present and correct.
At a stroke, by virtue of their partnership with Renault, Nissan have entered the small van market at the very top. The Kubistar and its Kangoo sister vehicle should, at the very least, find a place on the maybe list of every buyer in this sector. There are other good products out there and choosing between them will be tricky for any company but if you whittle the contenders down until only the Nissan and Renault offerings are left, separating these identical twins will present a real problem. The toss of a coin, best of three at scissors, paper, stone or the kind of deal you can extract from your local dealer might swing it.