13 January 2017

Full Renault Trafic (14 on) Model Review

by CJ Hubbard, Vans Editor

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6
  • No significant performance upgrade with Euro 6 engine
  • BUT refinement and comfort are exceptional for a van
  • Large load area but limited payload, four-year warranty
Renault Trafic (14 on) SWB 1.6 dCi (125ps) SL27 ENERGY Sport Nav Van - Road Test
This is our first crack at the Renault Trafic medium-duty van with a Euro 6 engine. The Trafic was the seventh best-selling van of 2016, and the new engine range – which brings more power and improved fuel efficiency at the expense of extra weight – should see this success continue into 2017.

This is our first crack at the Renault Trafic medium-duty van with a Euro 6 engine. The Trafic was the seventh best-selling van of 2016, and the new engine range – which brings more power and improved fuel efficiency at the expense of extra weight – should see this success continue into 2017.

Renault has also been the best-selling commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe for the past 18 consecutive years, so it’s fair to expect it to know what it’s doing.

This at least partially explains why three other manufacturers sell their own version of the Trafic: the Fiat Talento and Nissan NV300 are both built by Renault in the same factory in France, while the Vauxhall Vivaro is assembled in the UK at Luton.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

The key competitor in this sector is the Ford Transit Custom, which outsells all other vans in the UK by at least two to one. The Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes-Benz Vito are the premium benchmarks, and in an area of the van market where we’re starting to see an increasing number of ‘lifestyle’ sales, this is becoming important.

Though as we’ll see, the Trafic is hardly shabby when it comes to quality in the cab.

Which Renault Trafic is on test?

In this instance we’re testing the Renault in SL27 Energy dCi 125 Sport Nav specification. That means it’s the Short body length, Low-roof version with the smallest gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating, powered by a 125hp twin-turbo 1.6-litre diesel engine.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

Sport is the top trim level, above Business and Business+, while Nav means satellite-navigation is fitted.

The Trafic is also available with a longer body, a high roof, and a higher GVW denoted by the number 29 at the end of the badge. Three other 1.6-litre engines are also offered: two single-turbo and one twin-turbo - the extra blower brings a little more power but also improved fuel economy spec-for-spec.

What’s the Trafic’s new Euro 6 dCi 125 engine like?

The entire engine line-up gains 5hp over the old equivalents, so there isn’t a massive leap in performance. Fuel economy for the dCi 125 is a claimed 47.2mpg – which is a mere 0.1mpg more than the old twin-turbo dCi 120 engine.

So it hardly seems worth the expense of the newly fitted AdBlue tank, which is now needed to make the Euro 6 emissions control systems work. Although it is some 3.6mpg better than the single-turbo dCi 120 Euro 6 engine also offered in the Trafic.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

Fortunately, the extra heft of these items has been counterbalanced on most Trafics by increasing the gross vehicle weight; this particular van is up to 2,820kg GVW, leaving room for a 1,077kg payload.

On top of which, AdBlue helps reduce those nasty NOx emissions, which are physically harmful to the environment. The Energy badging means this Trafic is equipped with start-stop, which works seamlessly.

More importantly to most operators, this is an excellent engine. With 320Nm of pulling power this is smooth and powerful – so much so that you can actually use the (supposedly) fuel-saving Eco driving mode without feeling like someone’s added an anchor to the back – and incredibly refined.

There are few quieter van choices in any area of the market. Genuinely: excellent. 

Driving experience

In fact, we’d apply the word excellent to the entire driving experience. Renault has made no secret of raiding the parts bin of its car division here, and with suspension components derived from its people carriers, the Trafic is direct and confidence-inspiring from behind the wheel.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

Steering assistance is very well judged, being light enough to make tight manoeuvres easy but with enough substance to ensure the Trafic feels superbly stable at motorway speeds. The shift action for the six-speed gearbox is mechanical and precise, and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.

What’s more, the ride quality is exceptional for a van – particularly when travelling unloaded, which usually results in a harsh and bouncy rear. You will be able to cover big distances in one of these with very little complaint.

Renault even includes a low-traction mode as standard in addition to the usual electronic stability control, helping you get a grip on slippery surfaces such as gravel and light snow.

Car-derived mobile office

There are more car-derived elements in the cab. The entire centre console area with air-conditioning controls and sat-nav infotainment screen looks like it could have been lifted directly out of a Clio, and the rubber-trimmed adjustment dials are again of the very highest quality in van terms.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

The infotainment takes a bit of figuring out, but this comes with time, and the major instruments are clear and modern. Renault has also incorporated a number of mobile office elements: the middle seat back folds down to form a desk, there are laptop and tablet holders available, plus a built-in clipboard. Great, functional stuff. Most of the cubbies have covers, too.

However, nothing is perfect and the Trafic is no exception. The built-in mobile phone holder is too small for a Samsung Galaxy S7 – which means it will be too small for plenty of other modern smartphones, too – the door trims are more style than substance with limited storage space, and the fixed steel bulkhead of our test example rattled continuously.

Sport Nav is top of the current range, so standard equipment is generous, with all of the following included:

Renault Trafic SL27 dimensions and payload

There’s good and bad news when it comes to the Trafic’s load area.

The bad news is that the Trafic is among the very worst for payload in the medium van sector. Try the ‘29’ series if you need more, but you’ll likely find that equivalent rivals carry much more weight.

See the Parkers Vans list of the top medium vans for payload by clicking here

On the other hand, if what you want to carry is just big rather than heavy, the Trafic has one of the most commodious medium van load areas. These are critical dimensions of this SL (Short length, Low roof) variant:

  • Maximum load length: 2,537mm
  • Maximum load width: 1,662mm
  • Width between rear wheelarches: 1,268mm
  • Rear door opening width: 1,391mm
  • Rear door height: 1,320mm
  • Maximum side door opening: 1,030mm
  • Load volume: 5.2 cubic metres
  • Payload: 1,077kg (for SL27; 1,237kg for the SL29 equivlent)

The interior wood panelling was finished to an extremely high standard on our test van, and there were no fewer than 16 load lashing points in the back, not including the optional internal roof rack that was also fitted. This comes with a reinforced panel to protect the bulkhead from damage.

Renault Trafic SL27 Sport dCi 125 Euro 6

Renault also offers full racking solutions.

Servicing and warranty

The Trafic comes with a four-year warranty; the first two years cover you for unlimited mileage, but there’s a maximum 100,000-mile limit for all four years. You also get four years of roadside assistance cover, should the worst happen.

Service intervals are every 25,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. Not bad, but the Euro 6 Ford Transit Custom with 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine stretches the gap between services to 36,000 miles. The Ford only comes with a three-year warranty, though.

Verdict

Shopping for a medium van? The Renault Trafic isn’t the best option for those seeking the heaviest possible payload rating, but in all other respects it should be right near the top of your list. And the dCi 125 engine is a great choice – more efficient than the lesser alternatives, powerful enough to make the pricey dCi 145 at the top of the range seem an unnecessary extravagance.

That said, it’s also worth checking out the Nissan NV300, because it’s a very similar van that comes with a five-year warranty. We’ll bring you a UK road test of this alternative model very soon.

Find a deal on your next van in the Parkers Vans for sale section

Read the full Renault Trafic van review by clicking here

Also consider

Nissan NV300

Ford Transit Custom

VW Transporter