When Renault Trucks announced earlier this year that it was making available for test driving a limited number of demonstration models of the new long haul Renault Range T High, we quickly got our name on the list, as Export & Freight’s Garfield Harrison writes.
We were among those first in the queue to get behind the wheel when the 44 tonne, 480hp, 6×2 model arrived at dealers Diamond Trucks in Mallusk.
Accompanied by Dealer Principal Iain Latimer, we headed up the M2 motorway to journey along our traditional test route, circling Lough Neagh through Magherafelt, down into Cookstown and on to the M1 motorway at Dungannon to head back to Belfast.
We are great believers in first impressions, and they began when we climbed into the high spec, luxury high roof cab that offers a quite amazing and relaxed working environment for the long distance driver.
As the manufacturer says, and deservedly so, this flagship right hand drive Range T High with its flat floor cab takes pride of place in the robust, efficient Renault Trucks line-up, with engine choices including 440hp, 480hp and 520hp.
Our 480hp unit came with full leather seats with rotating passenger seat, performance lower and ultimate upper bunk, deep 40 litre capacity ‘silent’ fridge, compact dashboard, Alcoa alloy wheels, aluminium suzie support and additional catwalk, plus backrest, laminated side windows and three ambient lighting modes: active, night driving and rest time. Yes, it is a real ‘home from home’ that is spacious and comfortable, with well appointed working and living areas. What more could a driver want?
But there is more! Luxury curtains separate the driving position from the rest area, while storage space is abundant, including five above the console, one of which is lockable. The upper bunk can also be transformed into a storage space, complete with access ladder and luggage net; there’s also a drawer under the lower bunk – and outside the cab there are four side compartments, one of which is accessible from the inside, making it ideal for packing away heavy overnight baggage, for example.
In addition, there is all the usual infotainment features including CD player, MP3/WMA format-compatible double tuner, with steering column-mounted radio controls and USB inputs for an MP3 player, as well as a hands-free interface for a mobile phone.
So what’s the truck like to drive? It is powered by the already proven and highly regarded Range T High’s latest generation Step C 13-litre engine, offering maximum power of 353kW from 1404 to 1800 rpm, and maximum torque of 2400Nm from 950 rpm to 1404 rpm. So, yes, this six cylinder in-line diesel Euro 6 engine packs more than enough punch, though we weren’t fully loaded – but coupled with the 12-speed Optidriver automated gearbox, its performance cannot be faulted.
Further contributing to the driving pleasure are a host of safety features on our test vehicle, perhaps chief among them for us being Adaptive Cruise Control which enabled us to keep a safe distance from any vehicles in front, and not just on the M1 and M2 motorways.
Other features include Lane Departure, Advanced Emergency Braking, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, and Automatic Electric Parking Brake – there’s even a tyre pressure monitor which issues a visual warning in the event of a fault.
As you would expect, visibility from the driver’s seat is also excellent, thanks to the provision of wide angle and main rear view mirrors which are electrically adjusted and heated. Night time driving or low light conditions are well catered for, with LED daytime running and main beam headlights, directional LED indicators, and fog lights.
We found it easy to find the most comfortable driving position on our fully adjustable seat from which all the controls on the panoramic dashboard were within easy and safe reach, and together with the 7” HD colour information display we felt always in control no matter what the road ahead threw at us.
Back in February, Renault told us that exceptionally strong demand and customer orders for this right hand drive Range T High in the UK and Ireland prompted them to expand their offer for the new vehicle with an extended range of options enabling operators to specify individual requirements.
Nigel Butler, Commercial Director, Renault Trucks, commented at the time: “We have been delighted by the number of enquiries we have had since announcing the right hand drive Range T High, and our initial production run has already been taken up. As we prepare to deliver our first customer vehicles it has become clear that each operator has a very specific job in mind for their Range T High.”
And of Renault’s objective when launching this new range, he added: “Attracting and retaining good drivers is a real priority for operators facing the critical shortage of trained professionals in the industry. The generous working, living and sleeping environment of the righthand drive Range T High will help enhance driver satisfaction and productivity as the flat floor delivers the comfort levels needed for international or long distance transport.”
Having spent a couple of enjoyable, stress free and relaxing hours behind the wheel, we can honestly declare: ‘Mission Accomplished.’