Style and flair are two words you wouldn’t nor­mally as­so­ciate with white vans, but as Sean Will­mot finds out af­ter a week with a Re­nault, it seems you can have your crois­sant and eat it too.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CON­TENTS -

Re­nault Trafic

Re­nault has held the ac­co­lade of Europe’s best-sell­ing van range for 18 years, and while the oddly named brand is a bit of a best kept se­cret here, the Trafic is cer­tainly worth crow­ing about. In this ver­sion – the “tradie’s pick” – there’s a lot to love, but not a lot to óoh la la over. If you want that, ask us about the ‘lugshurry’ Black Edi­tion or the Crew Cab, which gives a happy combo of six-seats and se­cure cargo space. But for those hunt­ing a hauler with a dash of panache, the Tradie’s Trafic is le busi­ness. Trafic gives you a 6 cu­bic me­tre load space, with ac­cess from both sides through huge side slid­ing doors, which you can have as glazed or blind panel. At le rear, two big, barn-style doors with 270-de­gree open­ing abil­ity, af­ford easy ac­cess with a low load height. The cargo bay is lined, lit and loaded with lash points, and features a so­phis­ti­cated through-the-bulk­head-un­der-the-front-seatto-the-fire­wall stowage sys­tem for those times pre­sum­ably, when you want to carry a de­con­structed Eif­fel Tower. And so we come to the cab. Sacre Bleu, check out all the cuphold­ers! Se­ri­ously, the cab is a won­der­land of clever cubby spa­ces and con­cealed tricks. The cen­tre seat of three does the fold down trick to re­veal a pop-out clip board, yet an­other cup holder and a stash spot for a slim lap­top or tablet, com­plete with Vel­cro straps. The two main crew seats are very com­fort­able places to be, since the French mar­que has worked out that those who buy vans tend to spend a lot of time in them. I’m pick­ing they’d be as com­fort­able as each other, but my time was spent in the right seat, giv­ing me ac­cess to all the toys, like the cruise con­trol and speed lim­iter, mul­ti­func­tional trip com­puter, au­dio sys­tem (steer­ing wheel mounted con­trols) the Blue­teeth con­nec­tiv­ity, the au­to­matic en­gine start and stop sys­tem and oh yes, my own cupholder. You have ABS with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion and emer­gency brake as­sist, just as you get elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and hill start as­sist. Re­nault’s RAID (anti in­truder de­vice) se­cures all doors once the ve­hi­cle reaches 30km/h, while front airbags form a sec­ond line of de­fence af­ter the long crum­ple zone of the bon­net. That long bon­net is also home to au­to­matic head­lights with LED day­time run­ning lights, and it’s also your first taste of that style and flair we men­tioned ear­lier. Let’s face it, there’s only so much you can do to make a white van ap­peal­ing or stylish. The Re­nault Trafic is dis­tinc­tive, dar­ing with re­straint, and it de­liv­ers, thanks to its twin tur­bocharged 1.6-litre diesel with a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. With that com­bi­na­tion and a 3498mm wheel­base, the Trafic is some­thing of a Le Mans racer in van­land, and its han­dling is as­ton­ish­ing, con­sid­er­ing the ve­hi­cle’s pur­pose. Just qui­etly, I reckon Re­nault’s top van lau­rels are safe for an­other few years, at least if the Trafic is any in­di­ca­tion.

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