Not for nothing has the Renault Trafic been voted ‘van of the year’ three times in succession, thanks to excellent engines and clever innovations as we came to appreciate having spent a week behind the wheel of a Business+ model, reports Van Ireland’s Phil Eaglestone.
While there is no such thing these days as a ‘bad’ van, some just have that little extra that makes it stand out in what is a fairly crowded marketplace.
The Renault Trafic, kindly supplied to us by Charles Hurst Renault, certainly has a lot going for it as we discovered, not least its ‘car-like’ handling and performance on congested and narrow town and city streets and wide open motorways.
Well over 200,000 Trafics have been sold to date to all kinds of businesses for all kinds of uses, such is the Renault’s versatility and widespread appeal – and, we should point out, its excellent fuel efficiency and cargo carrying capacity.
Powered by a smooth performing 1.6 litre dCi turbo engine, matched to a six speed gearbox, it packs a plentiful punch, more than adequate for a van in its class; we particularly liked the push button Eco mode which makes a noticeable difference when pressed to the ‘on’ position, as does the Hill Start function which allows the van to be held on an incline, without the use of the handbrake, for two seconds, more than enough time to engage gear and apply power.
Another notable innovation is the Grip Xtend facility. When engaged, for example, while travelling over loose surfaces such as gravel or even snow, it allows the front wheels to spin, clearing away the low grip surface and allowing you to gain traction on the higher grip surface underneath.
Complementing this is Electronic Stability Control which ensures the stability of the vehicle and helps you avoid accidents by detecting and reducing the danger of skidding or losing control because of over-steering.
Other safety features include ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution, and driver and passenger airbags. Also standard on the Business+ van is a wide view mirror which
is built into the passenger vanity mirror to help you see into your blind spot, useful when negotiating busy town centres.
Other nice touches include an arm rest on the driver’s seat, a fold down middle passenger seat that converts into a table, complete with a detachable clipboard
and storage space for a laptop.
There’s also a built-in smartphone cradle located within easy reach and sight, and a larger cradle for tablet devices can also be specified and once you’ve got your devices installed it’s possible to fully integrate them with the van’s systems through Renault’s R&GO app, all of which combined turns the van into a mobile office.
Loads of Space
The Renault Trafic also provides one of the best load capacities on the medium panel
van market with clever solutions to make the loading area more practical, including a load-through bulkhead offering load lengths of up to 4.15m on the LWB; the load through bulkhead flap is magnetised to fix easily and securely in place, and with 54 litres of storage under the front passenger bench seat, other large objects can also be safely transported, whilst still being close to hand.
The cargo area itself is easily accessible with 180 degree opening rear doors and sliding side doors. Loading is also made easy thanks to the low load threshold, whilst load volumes from 5.2m3 to over 8m3, depending on variant, mean you’ll have all the space you need.
We have to agree with Renault: with its stylish design, efficient engine, the latest on-board technology and high levels of comfort and safety, the Trafic Business + ticks all of the boxes. It really makes for a smart business move. It is robust and versatile, performs quietly and handles smoothly like a family car, and looks great on the road, too.