Ac­com­plished French mid-sizer ticks the boxes

New Zealand LCV - - 2017 VAN GUIDE | RENAULT TRAFIC -

RE­NAULT NZ LISTS ONLY ONE TRAFIC MODEL – A LONG­wheel­base van with 3498mm be­tween the axles – and it is well­specced, with a good blend of com­fort and prac­ti­cal­ity.

The Trafic has highly-in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic styling which is a cleanedup evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous model.

Cur­rently it’s sold here only with a six-speed man­ual gear­box where the pre­vi­ous model also had an au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion (AMT) op­tion.

Like most of new-gen­er­a­tion light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, the Trafic has a small ca­pac­ity engine. It’s a twin-turbo, in­ter­cooled four-cylin­der that dis­places 1598cc, a rel­a­tively diminu­tive ca­pac­ity that would have seemed un­think­able in a mid-sized van just a few years ago.

But tech­nol­ogy marches on, and Re­nault’s engine team has coaxed 103kw of max­i­mum power – de­liv­ered at 3500rpm – from the 1.6-litre tur­bod­iesel. That’s 3kw more than the Toy­ota Hi­ace’s 3.0-litre diesel.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, the mo­tor de­vel­ops a use­ful 340Nm of peak torque at 1500 revs – 40Nm more than the bench­mark Toy­ota.

Com­bine those out­puts with a slick-shift­ing six-speed man­ual gear­box and user-friendly clutch and you have an ef­fec­tive and sweet-driv­ing load hauler.

Re­nault quotes com­bined cy­cle fuel econ­omy of 6.2 litres per 100 kilo­me­tres, and safety equip­ment in­cludes dual front and side cur­tain airbags for the driver and outer front seat pas­sen­ger, and lap/sash seat­belts for all three oc­cu­pants.

There are front and rear disc brakes with ABS anti-lock brak­ing, elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion, and brake as­sist.

The manda­tory elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol has a load-adap­tive fea­ture, and the Trafic has hill-start as­sist – which makes the van eas­ier to drive in hilly cities like Auck­land.

Re­nault’s Grip X-tend sys­tem gives a touch of four-wheel drivestyle prac­ti­cal­ity on soft or slip­pery sur­faces.

Day­time run­ning lights are stan­dard, and there are au­to­matic head­lights, rain-sens­ing wind­screen wipers and cor­ner­ing fog­lights.

The Trafic has dual slid­ing side doors which makes it couri­er­friendly. Both have fixed glass, though other glaz­ing op­tions are avail­able. The slid­ing doors are 1030mm wide and 1284mm high.

The rear doors are side-hinged, glazed barn door-style and open to a max­i­mum of 270 de­grees. Use­fully, the rear open­ing is near square, at 1391mm wide and 1387mm high.

The long wheel­base makes for a good load area length – 2937mm which can be ex­tended to a max­i­mum of 4150mm on the pas­sen­ger’s side by open­ing a trap­door and fold­ing the seat. Pay­load is good at 1284kg.

There’s a good level of stan­dard equip­ment, with cruisec­on­trol, vari­able speed-lim­iter, rear park­ing sen­sors, a rear-view cam­era which dis­plays in the cor­ner of the in­te­rior mir­ror, and a steel bulk­head – with win­dow to al­low rear vi­sion – be­tween the load­space and the cab.

The driver’s bucket seat has an arm­rest and is ad­justable for height, reach and rake and level of lum­bar sup­port.

The pas­sen­gers’ bench seat has a fold-down back­rest in the cen­tre seat­ing po­si­tion. It re­veals a ta­ble on the rear of the back­rest that in­cludes a de­tach­able clip­board and stor­age for a lap­top com­puter. All seats are cloth-up­hol­stered.

The leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel is ad­justable for height and reach, and the van has man­ual air-con­di­tion­ing; ex­te­rior mir­rors and cabin side win­dows are elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated.

There’s a multi-func­tion trip com­puter, and the Trafic has Blue­tooth hands-free phone con­nec­tiv­ity with au­dio stream­ing.

There are two USB au­dio in­puts and a 3.5mm AUX jack, and the sound sys­tem plays CDS and is MP3 com­pat­i­ble. The sound sys­tem has steer­ing wheel-mounted con­trols.

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