RENAULT trafic L2H1

Deals on Wheels - - Van Comparison -

The cur­rent in­car­na­tion of the Renault Trafic ar­rived in Aus­tralia mid-2015. Renault has never been one to shy away from a styling state­ment, and the Trafic is no ex­cep­tion.

I hap­pen to think it’s quite a nice look­ing van. Renault’s ad­vances on the Aussie LCV mar­ket have been some­thing to be­hold over what amounts to be quite a short pe­riod of time.

The front wheel drive Trafic uses a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel for power, which is avail­able in sin­gle-turbo (66kW (89hp)/260Nm) and twin-turbo (103kW (138hp)/340Nm) guise. Not bad from an en­gine that is nearly half the size of the HiAce’s 3.0-litre unit.

In Aus­tralian terms, how­ever, what does ham­string the Trafic is the lack of an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion op­tion. That said, the Trafic is equipped with a very slick shift­ing six-speed man­ual tranny. Clearly the Trafic needs a torque con­verter auto to fully take the mar­ket by the horns. But at least Renault didn’t go down the track of try­ing to use an au­to­mated man­ual and the in­her­ent com­pro­mises that go with those types of ‘boxes. More than one man­u­fac­turer has tried to pass off an AMT as a real auto op­tion and re­gret­ted it.

The Trafic has a pay­load of 1200kg and our LWB twin-turbo L2H1 vari­ant had a load area vol­ume of 6.0 cu­bic me­tres. And some­what re­fresh­ingly, it also wasn’t white.

There’s no deny­ing that the Bam­boo green colour stands out a lit­tle, maybe too much as I found out af­ter be­ing egged in peak traf­fic one evening. Maybe it was a con­tract hit.

The L2H1 gets a steel bulk­head, which vir­tu­ally elim­i­nates any driv­e­line rum­ble from the cargo area.

Plus, be­ing front wheel drive, there’s no diff driv­ing away un­der the load area floor.

The bulk­head also has a load through flap that makes room for long skinny items up to 4.1 me­tres in length. It will also tow up to two tonnes braked.

Barn doors at the rear make for easy fork­lift ac­cess, and an Aussie-sized pal­let will fit be­tween the wheel arches. The slid­ing door isn’t quite wide enough to take a pal­let, how­ever.

This is one of the chal­lenges of a Euro­pean van that has been de­signed to take skin­nier Euro sized pal­lets. Ide­ally, you’d want the load to be bal­anced be­tween the front and rear axles not sit­ting right at the back of the van, es­pe­cially a front-driver.

Dual slid­ing doors are also an op­tion for those want­ing ac­cess the load area from the right hand side. And there’s a hand­ily placed 12V out­let stan­dard in the rear cargo hold.

The cock­pit is a very pleas­ant place to step into. Our van was fit­ted with the op­tional Pre­mium Pack, which, for an extra $2390 gets you cli­mate con­trol, touch­screen multi-me­dia and sat-nav, and smat­ter­ings of chrome and gloss black in the in­te­rior.

There’s also heated seats and pat­terned cloth uphol­stery. Op­tional 17-inch al­loy wheels also help make the Trafic look a lit­tle more spiffy. Safety kit in­cludes driver and pas­sen­ger air bags as stan­dard, while lat­eral air bags re­main an op­tion.

The ex­pected elec­tronic sta­bil­ity gizmos are also stan­dard, as are auto head­lights and auto wipers on twin-turbo vans. These also get cor­ner­ing lights, which use the fog lights to il­lu­mi­nate in the di­rec­tion that the van is turn­ing when the lights are on. Day­time run­ning lights are stan­dard on all mod­els.

The lit­tle 1.6-litre diesel is a smooth unit. There’s slight turbo-lag, which is prob­a­bly un­der­stand­able given the en­gine’s mod­est dis­place­ment and its de­pen­dence on tur­bocharg­ing. But once the revs climb, it hap­pily pulls be­tween gears.

As men­tioned pre­vi­ously, the man­ual ‘box is a slick shift that makes the most of the power on tap.

The cen­tre seat flips down into a handy con­sole and clip­board, and there’s an abun­dance of stor­age for pa­per, pens and cof­fee. A uni­ver­sal smart­phone mount rounds out the pre­mium of­fice feel of the Renault.

Even though I’m not gen­er­ally a huge fan of front-wheel drive vans out on the open road, the Trafic han­dles quite well. There’s lit­tle in the way of torque steer when putting the foot down, and the whole van feels quite bal­anced on its feet.

And the ride is sur­pris­ingly sup­ple and un­com­mer­cial like even when empty. It’s a classy lit­tle unit to drive.

The L2H1 Trafic has a list price of $39,490, and ours had the $2390 Pre­mium Pack to make for a to­tal of $41,880 less on-roads. The Trafic comes with a three-year, 200,000km war­ranty, as well as three-year road­side as­sist and three­year capped price ser­vic­ing.

The ex­pected elec­tronic sta­bil­ity gizmos are also stan­dard as are auto head­lights and auto wipers on twin-turbo vans.

1. Plenty of room for an Aussie sized pal­let be­tween the Trafic’s wheel arches. 2. The mid­dle but­ton stops the Trafic from fall­ing into pine trees! 3. The in­te­rior of the Trafic is a well-laid out work­place with some Euro flair. 4. At 1.6 litres...

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