YOU wouldn't buy a commercial vehicle thinking you'd drive it like a car, but that's what happened when we tested Renault's new Trafic.
We jumped into the short wheelbase twin-turbo model first and then the long wheelbase twin-turbo.
The new dCi 140 twin-turbo engine is a marvel, there's no typical diesel clatter and no lag between gears.
You can get this van in a short wheelbase single turbo option, which will save you a few thousand but the extra features that come in the twin-turbo are well worth consideration.
Owners of the previous generation will be happy the size of the new Trafic's rear door aperture and the form of its cargo area are identical, meaning existing fittings can be re-used in the new models.
With a carrying capacity of 5.2m3 in the L1 SWB and 6m3 in the L2 LWB fitting two standard Australian pallets an optional overhead rack with carrying capacity of 13kg and the ability to carry extra long items with the doors closed, this van has it all.
Renault's all-new Trafic has been radically changed inside with a focus on practicality and comfort. There's an emphasis on making this van more like a mobile office, with up to 14 compartments for storage. You get class-leading stowage capacity of up to 90 litres, including a 54-litre space under the front passenger bench seat in the twin turbo models.
This van feels more like a car than a commercial vehicle. While the basic model is cheaper, you won't get all of the features, including a dual passenger bench with fold down centre seat workstation including a detachable A4 clipboard, laptop storage and under-seat storage.
Getting in and out of the van has been helped with a wide step. The driver's seat cushion has been lowered 36mm and the seat back is more reclined, with the bulkhead moving 3cm rearward.
The seats are upholstered high density foam, easily adjusted and comfortable, with armrests built into the doors and the seat. An adjustable steering wheel and driver height adjustment further adds to driver comfort.
Options include a premium dash with chrome-plated accents, including the instrument panel rings and gear knob trim, tablet and smart phone docks.
There's a stack of technological advances and little luxuries that you won't get with the basic model but will make life on the road easier.
Automatic dimming rear view mirrors are standard on the SWB and LWB twin turbo variants, as is a leather wrapped steering wheel and full steel bulkhead with load-through facility.
Also standard on the twin-turbo models is automatic headlights and windscreen wipers and high definition reversing camera.
With all these extra features and storage areas added, you lose a lot of room on the passenger side when utilising the fold down laptop holder, and there's not much space between the left leg and the dash.
On the road
This new Trafic really is a joy to drive. The six-speed manual twin-turbo spec vans don't feel like your typical diesel engine.
Off the mark this is one van with a lot of get up and go, the 1.6-litre engine reaches 100kmh in 10.8 seconds in the twin-turbo option.
We tested the twin-turbo which doesn't have that lag you would expect and handles low speeds in higher gears quite easily, meaning you don't need to change gears all that often.
Hill-Start Assist is automatic on gradients more than 3% and gives a two second delay, which might take a bit of getting used to but is otherwise helpful especially under load, we had 300kg in the back.
Eco mode will help you save fuel at the push of a button.
What do you get?
There's an impressive list of standard features, including anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Variation and Emergency Brake Assist, stability control with Hill-Start Assist and Grip Xtend, Driver and passenger front airbags, Eco-mode, six-way adjustable drivers' seat with armrest, glazed tailgate with rear screen wipers, day running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, 12-volt socket in dashboard and cargo area.
The twin-turbo models also have extra tech you'll want and the one we drove included extras like driver and passenger lateral airbags, wide-view mirror, phone cradle, MediaNav 17.7cm touch-screen multimedia and navigation system, premium dashboard and heated seats. You'll pay $3000-$5000 more for the twin turbo and there's three option packs (Pro $1290, Premium $1990 and Lifestyle $2490).
The perception that Renaults cost a lot to service means they've come up with a solution to save the buyer money. A capped-price servicing program will cost you $349 a year or up to 30,000km for the first three scheduled services. Those who run longer distances might find themselves needing servicing sooner but the first three will be capped at the $349. Using their success in Formula 1 Renault's new engines have improved fuel consumption by 25% to average 6.2 litres/100km.
The new Trafic is 210mm longer than the previous model, giving additional carrying capacity of 200 litres on the SWB and 100 litres on the LWB.
Longer items are also catered for, the Trafic can carry items up to 3.75m in the SWB and 4.15m in the LWB with the rear doors closed. One cargo area is at the bottom of the bulkhead, the other beneath the passenger seat.
Renault has introduced the new Trafic in a lime green to highlight the van's eco nature.
The 17.7cm touch-screen nav system includes web interface and the ability to update maps direct. It is Bluetooth enabled and includes a USB port (which can charge your mobile phone) and an auxiliary jack. The system comes with Nav and Go navigation.
Renault think these vans will make headway in the fast-rising coffee van market. Liquid Black Franchise rep Tony D'Andrea, based in South Australia, said the width and height of the cargo area and ability to move previous fit-outs to the new models were a plus. This is a good balance between commercial vehicle practicality and car-like comfort.
Models: Renault Trafic L1H1 and L2H1 Energy dCi 140.
Details: Two-door short and long wheel base, three-seater cab commercial van.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder common rail twin-turbo generating maximum power of 103kW @ 3500rpm and peak torque of 340Nm @1500rpm (270Nm available @ 1250rpm).
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Consumption: 6.2 litres/100km (combined average).
CO2: 164g/km. Euro 5 compliant.
Performance: 0-100km in 10.8 seconds.
Towing capacity: 2000kg.
Bottom line plus on roads: SWB twin turbo $36,990, LWB twin turbo $38,490. (SWB single turbo $33,490).
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