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Replacing the best-selling panel van in its class throughout Europe is not an easy task but first impressions suggest the all-new Renault Trafic is good enough to retain its crown. Vauxhall Vivaro-badged versions of the Trafic will also be sold but these are assembled in Luton; the Renault is built in France. Larger, more practical and with greater comfort than before, the new Renault Trafic bears a close resemblance to the popular previous generation but is 21cm longer overall, benefiting both crash protection and load carrying ability. Renault describes the Trafic’s styling as ‘robust’ but it hasn’t gone unnoticed that with more body-coloured panels and a much improved cabin, it’s more car-like than before too. Under the bonnet, now with a more distinct angle compared to the windscreen, are a choice of four 1.6-litre diesel engines, the two ‘Energy dCi’ versions featuring twin-turbos. The new Renault Trafic comes in three trim levels: Business (expected to take 50 percent of sales), Business+ (30 percent) and the flagship Sport, aimed at owner drivers, accounting for the rest of the product mix. As before, Trafic is available in two lengths and heights, as well as a double-cab-in-van five- or six-seater, an eight- to nine-passenger minibus, chassis cab and various aftermarket conversions including refrigerated units and camper vans. Read the Parkers new Renault Trafic van review to find out how good the latest model is.
Despite having one of the worst payloads in class (Click on Best Payloads for Medium Vans to view the full results), the Renault Trafic (120 Efficiency version) is the most fuel efficent medium panel van. Click on Most Fuel Efficient Medium Van to view the full results.
Climb aboard the new Renault Trafic and, resilient harder plastics aside, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a large people-carrier from the brand. High quality yet durable two-tone mouldings are fitted throughout the cabin, which is further lifted by gloss black and chrome-look details. The only area that gave particular concern was the softer panel in front of the passenger airbag – it looks like it might be prone to damage from heavy duty tools or work boots. With a roomier cabin than the previous generation Trafic and a driving position that feels more like a people carrier than a van, it’s easy to determine a comfortable driving position, with fine seat adjustability. Couriers in particular will appreciate how easy it is to get in and out of the Trafic. Go for the twin passenger seat option for extra practicality but expect the two sat there to struggle to get as comfortable as the driver. Renault describes the Trafic’s interior as an office on wheels with dash-mounted cradles available for smartphones and tablets (for Business+ and Sport), as well as a flip down middle seat-back with storage for a laptop in addition to the integral clipboard. In total there are 14 interior stowage areas, totally 90 litres of capacity. Integrated sat-nav with a seven-inch touch screen is available, while Bluetooth is standard. Download the ‘R&GO’ app to your tablet or smartphone and it acts as an infotainment and vehicle information portal too.
Renault has fitted the Trafic with what it describes as MPV-like suspension, benefiting both ride comfort and handling. It works too, the Trafic feeling refined and isolated from road noise, even with an empty cargo bay. Steering is light enough around town to make manoeuvres easy to undertake while at higher speeds it weights up progressively without ever feeling unnecessarily sporty. There are four 1.6-litre diesel engine options: dCi 90 (260Nm of torque) and dCi 115 (330Nm) are single-turbo units with 89bhp and 113bhp respectively. They’re quiet and have ample grunt for urban journeys. New to the range are the F1-inspired (no, really) Energy dCi motors in 120 (that 118bhp and 320Nm of torque) and 140 (138bhp and 340Nm) guise. These have two turbos, the second one kicking in at higher revs allowing for quieter and more efficient cruising. Whether the F1 link is of interest to Trafic buyers is debatable, even for those choosing Sport trim, but Renault claims the efficiency gains as a result of its motorsport involvement are tangible. All models have an unobtrusive stop-start system as standard, barring the entry-level dCi 90 where it’s optional. At launch, a slick six-speed manual is the only gearbox on offer: an automatic alternative is expected later on.