12 February 2018

Full Renault Master (10 on) Model Review

by Keith WR Jones, Continuity Editor

Renault Master Formula Edition review on Parkers Vans
  • Renault Master Formula Edition rear static
  • Renault Master Formula Edition dashboard
  • Renault Master Formula Edition front static
  • Renault Master Formula Edition rear static
  • Renault Master Formula Edition load bay
  • Renault Master Formula Edition decal
  • Renault’s largest van gets a sporty makeover
  • Connection with the brand’s F1 team
  • Decent performance, but feeling its age
Renault Master (10 on) MWB 2.3 dCi (170ps) MM35 ENERGY Formula Edition Medium Rf Van FWD - Road Test
Sportier vans are becoming increasingly popular of late and, as tenuous as the link to F1 may seem with a van of this size, the Renault Master Formula Edition’s black and yellow-accented paint job confirms it as a limited edition associated with the French marque’s racing efforts.

Sportier vans are becoming increasingly popular of late and, as tenuous as the link to F1 may seem with a van of this size, the Renault Master Formula Edition’s black and yellow-accented paint job confirms it as a limited edition associated with the French marque’s racing efforts.

Does that mean it’s fashioned out of carbonfibre and other exotic materials? No. Will it out-drag a performance saloon thanks to an expertly fettled high performance engine? Err, not exactly. Are you likely to feel like Nico Hulkenberg every time you get behind the wheel? Oh, please...

Eye-catching detailing on the Renault Master Formula Edition

As sporty light commercial vehicles go, the Master is actually in a club of one. Despite the popularity of sporty Ford Transit Customs and Volkswagen Transporters, neither manufacturer has upped the go-faster ante on their large van ranges.

Inevitably for some F1 fans, the Formula Edition Master doesn’t look enough like a replica of the racing livery, but all that blank space gives scope for any branding the owner wants to apply to remain clearly visible.

Renault Master Formula Edition rear static

Many of the details around the exterior are well-judged, but the LED day-running lights set into the grille look a little Halfords to our eyes.

What you’re more likely to notice is what’s not there – there are no deep spoilers or sill extensions – the Master’s an exercise in subtlety. Aside from those yellow flashes…

Talking of which, inside it’s disappointingly ordinary with no sunny trim additions or appliques to liven-up the austere cabin – perhaps after 100,000 miles of heavy use and grime they’d turn grey like the rest of cab anyway.

Is the Renault Master Formula Edition faster than normal?

Forget notions of extra performance in the Master Formula Edition. It packs the same twin-turbo 2.3-litre diesel – dCi 170 in Renaultspeak – as others in the range. That means you’ve 170hp to deploy, with 380Nm of torque available from 1,500rpm, the latter useful on a motorway where you can keep it in sixth gear and still swiftly overtake trucks.

Renault Master Formula Edition front static

Its top speed of 100mph is somewhat academic, but the 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds feels swift for a van of this size. Certainly your sense of performance is increased by being sat so high up.

How good is the Renault Master Formula Edition to drive?

If you’re hoping that the Master will share much of the smaller Trafic’s fine driving qualities, then you’re in for a disappointment.

Sure, you don’t buy a capacious van to have outright enjoyment behind the wheel, but newer alternatives such as the Ford Transit and VW Crafter – it’ll be safe to add the third-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to the list in due course – feel more refined, quiet and car-like.

But while engine noise penetrates the Master's cab at motorway speeds, this can be forgiven to some degree thanks to its torquiness – even a heavy load in the back does little to dent its urgency.

Adding weight in the rear helps settle the ride down too – it’s a bit too fidgety and unsettled when the cargo bay’s empty, lending it a tendency to feel nose-heavy and push wide if you take sweeping bends at pace.

Renault Master Formula Edition decal

Our test of the Master coincided with a period of unseasonably foul weather – yes, snow in winter – but this posed it no problem. Particularly useful is the traction-enhancing Grip Xtend function, ensuring there’s sufficient adhesion at low speeds, even when the asphalt’s slippery.

Officially, the Master will average 39.2mpg, a figure we struggled to come close to despite our best efforts. Our tally was closer to 30mpg for motorway driving and 33mpg around town, with the benefit of the stop/start system kicking in.

This one had the optional 105-litre fuel tank (an extra £100), so at least you won’t have to fill up too frequently.

Comfortable cabin for the Renault Master Formula Edition

Spending over 12 hours in total behind the wheel on one particular day of our test proved to be a comfortable, ache-free experience. There’s a decent amount of adjustment for the driver’s seat and the position of the left-sided armrest didn’t impinge on using the gearlever.

A couple of option packs caught our attention in particular. For £675 the Master can be fitted with Renault’s R-Link sat-nav infotainment system, but instead of having its 7.0-inch screen nestling atop the dash, it’s on a pivoting mount up where the rear-view mirror would ordinarily be, something that makes even more sense as it doubles as a display for the £350 reversing camera.

Renault Master Formula Edition dashboard

A further £500 nets you the Safety Pack, comprising of front foglights, Lane Departure Warning System and automatic main beam function.

Two points of note here: the lane-departure function is very useful, particularly as road grime has a tendency to gather on the quarterlight windows on the doors, requiring frequent wipes to keep the mirrors visible.

Disappointingly the automatic main beam system wasn’t as slick – it picked up oncoming cars quickly, but wasn’t sensitive enough to notice tail lights of cars being caught up before the driver in front was dazzled.

Renault Master Formula Edition load area dimensions and payload

In medium-wheelbase and medium height format, with the higher gross vehicle weight (GVW), MM35 guise sits in the middle of the Master line-up.

These are the Renault Master Formula Edition MM35 dCi 170 load area dimensions:

  • Maximum load length: 3,083mm
  • Maximum load height: 1,894mm
  • Maximum load width: 1,765mm
  • Width between the wheelarches: 1,380mm
  • Maximum payload: 1,524kg

Renault Master Formula Edition load bay

Adding further flexibility for an additional £800 outlay is the Loading Pack, including a resin-coated plywood floor to make it easier to slide loads in and out, unglazed 270-degree opening back doors and an additional sliding side door on the right-hand side of the van.

Verdict

Against an onslaught of newer rivals, that the Renault Master is feeling a tad old is of little debate.

That doesn’t mean you should write it off, though. The cab’s comfy, the ride quality when laden is decent and with the dCi 170 diesel it’s punchy yet remains economical.

Much of the kit the Formula Edition’s got is available on the Business+ version of the Master, a model that’s £1,000 less than the £33,150 (ex VAT) of our test example with subtler looks. But if it’s a sporty vibe in a big package you’re after, this Renault’s the place to be.

Also read:

Best large vans 2018

Best large vans for payload

Best large vans for mpg

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review

Renault Master Formula Edition rear static

Renault Master Formula Edition review on Parkers Vans