Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Peter Barn­well

COM­MER­CIAL ve­hi­cles have a long model run and such was the case for the pre­vi­ous Re­nault Trafic van. Seemed like it was here for a decade.

There's a new one now that looks fairly sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous model with its top hat style roof, the smil­ing face and boxy rear sec­tion - all dic­tated by practicalities.

But this new one is a much bet­ter mouse­trap of­fer­ing more load space, eas­ier ac­cess, bet­ter dy­nam­ics and tighter turn­ing cir­cle, along with a choice of two 1.6litre turbo diesel en­gines, the 90 dCi (66kW) and the 140 (103kW). The for­mer is only on the base model $33,490 short wheel­base Trafic and the lat­ter on all the oth­ers, in­clud­ing short and long wheel­base ver­sions.

Stan­dard and only trans­mis­sion is a six-speed man­ual, with the lever lo­cated rally-style high in the cen­tre con­sole.

Drive is to the front wheels for ef­fi­ciency but it can be an is­sue start­ing off on a steep, wet slope with a load on board. Lucky the new Trafic has hill start as­sist and a new ver­sion of sta­bil­ity con­trol that makes al­lowances for slip­pery driv­ing con­di­tions.

The 140 driven has a twin turbo set-up and is good for a hefty 340Nm on top of the 103kW power out­put. It makes the Trafic some­thing of a per­former off the mark and on the move and cer­tainly helps when there's a full tonne on board that can com­prise two full size pal­lets loaded from the rear or through a side slider.

Driver/pas­sen­ger safety and com­fort is much bet­ter this time around, es­pe­cially on the test ve­hi­cle which had a me­tal bulk­head be­tween the load space and the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment.

Other vans have noth­ing or an op­tional cargo net thingy.

On top of that, the three­seater cabin has heaps of busi­ness sup­port kit like a mo­bile of­fice in­clud­ing com­part­ments for phones and tablets, a lap­top slot, and even a re­mov­able A4-size clip­board. The cabin space of­fers a rea­son­able amount of seat back move­ment and is quite com­fort­able over a long drive.

The test van was a top of the range long wheel­base with the 140 en­gine and other good­ies, in­clud­ing a re­verse cam­era, un­der­seat stor­age, rear park­ing sen­sors, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing for the pas­sen­ger com­part­ment and a sep­a­rate sys­tem for the load area, rake and reach steer­ing ad­just­ment and en­gine stop/start help­ing it achieve an im­pres­sive 6.2-litres/100km fuel econ­omy.

Ver­dict: If we were van­nies and spent our life in one, the Trafic would be on the short list for a num­ber of rea­sons, not the least be­ing safety and low run­ning costs. The en­gine is sur­pris­ingly strong de­spite be­ing only a 1.6 and it sips fuel like a real econobox.

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