RENAULT trafic L2H1
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...