IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
TRAFIC PROMISES A SAFE AND ECONOMICAL RIDE
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.