RENAULT VAN A CARRY-FORWARD TO THE FUTURE

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When it comes to loading-dock bragging rights, Renault carries the weight of its Formula 1 success as a badge of honour in the shape of technology under the bonnet of the new Trafic.

And there’s no Trafic jam when it comes to loading the latest version of the popular Renault van. The eponymous light commercial vehicle from France has grown in many ways.

Front and rear overhangs have been extended by 100 mm and 110 mm respectively, while maximum load lengths of 3.75 and 4.15 metres for the L1 standard and L2 long wheelbase variants respectively chalk a new benchmark in the market.

The bulkhead has been shifted 30 mm further back to enhance a revised cabin, which is designed to serve as a mobile office with options such as mobile phone and tablet cradles, space for a laptop computer, and a removable A4 clipboard in situ.

Renault Trafic comes in three versions – L1H1 dCi 90, L1H1 Energy dCi 140 and L2H1 Energy dCi 140 – powered by one of two turbo-diesel engines, the single-turbo dCi 90 in the entry-level L1H1, with the new twin-turbo Energy dCi 140 available on both the L1H1 and L2H1.

Opening the innings on price is the Trafic L1H1 dCi 90 at $33,490, the L1H1 Energy dCi 140 comes in at $36,990, while the L2H1 Energy dCi 140 brings up the tail end at $38,490. The L1H1 Energy dCi 140 was on test.

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Factory-fitted options – Pro Pack ($1290), Premium Pack ($1990) and Lifestyle Pack ($2490) – are available on the twin turbo models. The Trafic qualifies for Renault’s Capped Price Servicing program of $349 per calendar year for the first three scheduled services.

STYLING
The windscreen, at a keener angle than on Trafic II, takes after the passenger vehicle style by making a break from the bonnet. The bold Renault logo, at the centre of the front end, runs into a contrasting black trim strip which tops the grille. An area of body colour between the grille and front bumper adds further to new Trafic’s bulked-up bearing.

The van’s profile takes on a more dynamic look than its predecessor, while the squared-off tall rear emphasises its generous carrying capacity. Features carried over include wraparound bumpers and broad, side protective mouldings.

Among a choice of ten body colours, new hues, Bamboo Green, Copper Brown and Laser Red, put the Trafic in a class of its own among vans. Options include a body coloured front bumper, body colour rear corner upright mouldings, a gloss black Renault logo background and a chrome grille trim.

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INTERIOR
The Trafic rightly earns the tag ‘office on wheels’, the separate passenger cabin carrying myriad storage facilities – up to 90 litres. Standard on the twin turbo and optional on the single turbo is the fold-down centre-seat workstation. Tipping the central seat back forward and lifting the lid exposes a laptop dock, which can be turned to face driver or passenger, similarly a clipboard.

An optional mobile phone cradle is positioned on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel within reach of the driver, while a retractable bracket for a tablet is located above the radio.

Seat upholstery is passenger-car quality, while the floor is, happily an entirely different matter, being covered with serviceable rubber mats.

The Renault Trafic is the only van in its class that can carry items of up to 3.75 metres (L1) or 4.15 metres (L2) in length with the rear doors closed. One load-through is located at the bottom of the bulkhead and increases maximum load length by 41 cm, while the second is situated beneath the passenger seat to further increase maximum load length by 80 cm.

An optional heavy duty suspension is available, allowing the maximum weight over the rear axle to be upgraded by 85 kg.

INFOTAINMENT
The new Trafic features audio with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and a fascia-mounted USB port and jack socket. Another USB port is provided alongside the optional mobile phone cradle.

An optional Media Nav system is incorporated in the dashboard and comes with a seven-inch touchscreen and radio, as well as Bluetooth. Media Nav incorporates Nav & Go navigation with 2-D and 3-D displays.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Two diesel engines are available, each a Euro 5 compliant 1.6-litre, with either single or twin-turbos, designed also to comply with Euro 6b emission legislation.

The new Energy dCi 140 fitted to our test vehicle produces 340 Nm of torque, with 270 Nm available from a low 1250 rpm.

SAFETY
Driver and front passenger frontal airbags can be augmented with optional curtain airbags, plus a thorax airbag for versions equipped with an individual front passenger seat, and an impact detection pressure sensor.

Active safety features include an ABS anti-locking system incorporating electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, while the width and stiffness of the front bumper have been revised to lessen the risk of pedestrian leg injuries.

DRIVING
The Energy dCi 140 powerplant delivers sharp acceleration. I wouldn’t argue with the claimed zero to 100 km/h in 10.8 sec. Responsive mid-range acceleration from low revs comes thanks to the availability of 270Nm of torque.

The standard six-speed manual transmission transfers power smoothly and efficiently. While attention has been paid to keeping vibration and engine noise entering the passenger area through the windscreen, weight saving measures include the absence of cabin / load area insulation allowing some noise to intrude but generally this is not uncomfortable.

Fuel consumption on test ran out at just 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and up to nine litres per 100 kilometres in the cut and thrust of city traffic. Further gains can be made by drivers using the vehicle’s eco driving aids – Eco mode button and gear change-up indicators.

Loading is through the wide opening rear doors and a side sliding door. The absence of grab handles make the climb up into the cabin and cargo area a big step up, and with the centre seat back in the vertical position, a large area of the rear window area is blotted out, adding to a massive blind spot due to the absence of side windows.

Large exterior mirrors and a reversing camera go some way to rectifying the situation but drivers need their wits about them at all times.

SUMMING UP
There’s no denying the latest Renault Trafic is a leap forward in the van market and responsible for Renault maintaining its spot as the leading light commercial vehicle maker in Europe. Versatility, economy and keen pricing give it a good start in the Australian market.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
Trafic L1H1 dCi 90: $33,490
Trafic L1H1 Energy dCi: 140 $36,990
Trafic L2H1 Energy dCi: 140 $38,490
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

FEATURES (standard)
Height adjustable driver’s seat with armrest
3-abreast seating
Left side loading door (unglazed)
Reach-and-rake adjustable steering wheel
Electric front windows, electric heated door mirrors
Spare wheel
Remote central locking with separate locking for cargo area
16 anchorage points
Electronic Stability Control
Hill Start Assist
Grip Xtend traction control to cope with loose surfaces
Rear parking sensors
Bluetooth audio, phone and USB

(ENERGY dCi 140)
Folding centre passenger seat with removable A4 clipboard
54 litres of extra storage under seat and laptop storage
Automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, full steel bulkhead with Load-through facility (up to 4.15m in long wheelbase)
Leather wrapped steering wheel
Reversing camera

SPECIFICATIONS (1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine)
Capacity: 1598 cc
Configuration: Four-cylinder, 16-valve, common-rail, twin turbocharged diesel
Bore and stroke: 80 mm x 79.5 mm
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 3500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 340 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Emission rating: Euro 5

DRIVELINE:
Drivetrain: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4999 mm
Width: 2283 mm (including mirrors)
Height: 1971 mm
Wheelbase: 3098 mm
Track: 1615 mm (front); 1628 mm (rear)
Overhang: 933 mm (front) / 968 mm (rear)
Cargo bay length / height / width: 2537 mm / 1387 mm / 1662 mm
Cargo bay width between wheel arches: 1268 mm
Ground clearance: 160 mm
Kerb weight: 1683 kg
Gross vehicle mass: 2920 kg
Payload: 1237 kg

Towing capacity: 2000 kg (braked) / 750 kg (unbraked)
Seating capacity: 3
Load volume: 5.2 cubic metres
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Turning circle: 11.84 metres

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Suspension: N/A
Brakes: Discs (front and rear). ABS anti-skid brake system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist. Electronic Stability Control with Extended Grip and Hill Start Assist. Anti-Rollover Protection and Load Adaptive Control
Steering: Electric power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy 16 inch x 6J / 215/65 R16C

PERFORMANCE
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 10.8 sec
Top speed: 181 km/h

FUEL CONSUMPTION:
Fuel type: Diesel
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 6.2 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 164 g / km

WARRANTY:
3 years / 200,000 kilometres

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