Accomplished French mid-sizer ticks the boxes
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.