At present, the choice is limited to one of the 4x4s such as the Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin van, which has neither the load volume nor weight carrying capacity you need, or the Vauxhall Brava pick-up, which doesn't have a roof.
Renault has noticed this small but significant hole in the car-derived van market and is about to plug it fairly and squarely with the new Kangoo 4x4 van, a model that looks like a Kangoo after a workout at the gym. It will be available in the UK in May and is likely to bear a price tag about £1,000 more than its two-wheel drive brother.
Renault sees this model as being of interest to the likes of the gas and electricity boards, forestry workers and the Post Office. The new van boasts Renault's superb 1.9 dCi common rail diesel unit and permanent four-wheel drive gubbins supplied by Nissan - another example of how the two companies are sharing their technology following Renault's purchase of a major share in the Japanese company.
The Kangoo has already established itself as not only a chic, stylish van but no mean performer either, and the 4x4 will offer a payload of 600kg, load platform of up to 2.50 metres with the passenger seat folded down and a load volume of 2.9 cubic metres. The first thing you'll notice about this new model is that it stands head and shoulders above its brother. Ground clearance has been increased by 40mm and the van will be at home in water depths up to 400mm. Meatier bumpers give it a more aggressive appearance and there is new interior upholstery. There is a choice of three positions for the spare wheel in the rear.
The 1.9-litre diesel unit gives 80bhp at 4,000rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm and the changeover from two- to four-wheel drive takes place automatically, whenever the front wheels start to lose traction. The driver won't even notice it happening. The engine is the same one found in the Renault Megane and Scenic and is claimed to offer fuel consumption of 38.2mpg on the combined cycle.
ABS and brake assist are standard and the 15-inch steel wheels are shod with 185/65 15 mixed terrain tyres specially developed for this van.
Behind the wheel
AT the CERAM testing ground near Paris, where Renault puts its new models through their paces, we were led round the special off-road course by an expert and most of us were expecting no more than a bit of 'green laning' and a few puddles.
But the green lanes soon turned to ruts and the angles ever steeper until it became clear that this little van will cut the mustard with many of the true off-roaders on the market today. Keeping at a steady pace in first gear, the drivetrain did its work quickly and efficiently and the twists and turns in the track never really phased the Kangoo 4x4.
In fact it would have been interesting to see just how far this van could be pushed before it reached its limits.
But that would have been a pointless exercise - for the type of work envisaged by its maker, this course more than sufficed and the Kangoo passed with flying colours.
With no challengers against it, I could hardly complain about the Kangoo 4x4 van even if I wanted to.
As it was, there was nothing to complain about. The Kangoo was everything I had expected and more. With a price tag of about £10,000, this van is a snip - and a competent one at that.