What is it?
They come in all shapes and sizes, and in a variety of colours too these days.
If you happen to drive one for a living, then you’ll be interested in the detail — what makes them tick.
The rest of you probably won’t give a hoot, unless it’s a van full of seats — in which case it becomes a people mover.
Built in France, the Renault Trafic is a mid-sized van designed for a variety of applications.
They drive a lot of Trafics in France, but not so much here where the market is dominated by the Japanese.
But, hey . . . all those French people can’t be wrong — can they?
What’s it cost?
We’re driving the long wheelbase, Premium version with an auto, priced from $45,990 driveaway.
It has seating for three across the front, in a 1 + 2 configuration, and comes with dual rear sliders and barn style rear doors as standard.
There’s dual under seat storage plus a load through flap, while the centre seat folds down to become a work table of sorts, with detachable clipboard.
And there’s a large, shallow dash-top storage receptacle for tossing odds and ends.
Features include cloth trim, air conditioning, a driver’s seat that has height, fore and aft and lumbar adjustment, with a steering wheel that is also both reach and height adjustable.
There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus DAB digital radio, a single USB socket and four speakers.
You’ll also find auto lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror, LED headlights, fog lights with cornering function, cruise control with speed limiter, and an adjustable phone cradle designed to accommodate up to a 4.7 inch smartphone.
Safety extends to driver and passenger front and curtain airbags plus a driver thorax airbag, with a rear view camera, rear park sensors, ABS with EBD, EBA, ESC, Hill Start Assist and Roll Over Mitigation.
No auto braking and surprisingly no safety rating from ANCAP.
What’s it go like?
The long wheelbase version is 5399mm long, stands 1971mm tall, and is 2283mm wide including the mirrors, with a 3498mm wheelbase.
It has a 13.2 metre turning circle, with 3.2 turns from lock to lock.
The load area is 2937mm long and 1662mm wide with 1268mm between the wheel arches and a height of 1387mm.
Importantly, it has a 6.0 cubic metre cargo capacity, with 1250kg payload capability and can tow a 1630kg braked load — with 16 anchor points in the back.
That’s pretty good, but falls short of the long wheelbase HiAce at 6.2 cubic metres and Transporter at 6.7 cubic metres.
With rear barn doors and twin rear sliders, access to the rear is easy and the side doors are lightweight and slide easily.
This one is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel, with 125kW of power at 3500 revs and 380Nm of torque at 1500 revs.
Its paired with a 6-speed twin clutch style auto, with drive to the front wheels, auto engine stop-start, sequential gear changes and fuel-saving Eco mode.
Trafic rolls on attractive 16-inch steel wheels, with 215/65 Goodyear rubber and a spare that is mounted underneath the vehicle.
With an 80-litre fuel tank, fuel consumption is rated at 7.3L/100km.
Getting into the van, you step up and into the cabin, with a step but surprisingly no grab handles to assist.
It’s okay if you spend most of the day in the cabin, but try getting in and out 150 times a day in a high volume delivery environment and it will soon become tiresome.
The driver’s seat is short and firm and not particularly comfortable, and it feels like you’re sitting on rather than in the seat.
It can be adjusted for height, with a wheel that is also reach and height adjustable.
But the driving position is more truck-like than some vans.
An ergonomically sculpted arm rest accommodates your right arm, but lacks any form of padding.
Torque kicks in early and forcefully, delivering sharp throttle response.
But it’s not so smooth and the twin clutch transmission becomes easily confused, particularly when trying to make a quick three-point turn — and it rolls back on hills.
You won’t find gear change paddles in this part of the market, but you can change gears manually using the transmission lever.
The bulkhead separating the cabin from the cargo area offers some protection for the driver in the event of an accident and makes the cabin easier to cool or keep warm.
But reflection from the bulkhead window obscures the view from the rear vision mirror at times.
The exterior mirrors meanwhile feature a lower, wide-angle section.
Over the shoulder vision is frankly appalling without a passenger side window in the back, but you need to shell out $2000 to get one as part of an option pack.
A floor liner for the back would also be welcome, but it’s part of another $1400 pack.
And how about a footrest mes amis — that’d be nice, n’est-ce pas?
The phone cradle by the way wouldn’t accommodate our Samsung Galaxy.
We were getting 7.5L/100km after more than 300km.
After sales support sounds generous, with a 5-year/200,000km warranty, 5-year roadside assist, 30,000km service intervals, and capped price servicing, with the first three services pegged at $549.
What we like?
- Goes like stink
- Good fuel consumption
- Easy rear access and slider movement
- Auto lights and wipers
- Digital speedo
What we don’t like?
- Driving position too high
- Driver seat uncomfortable
- No grab handles
- No foot rest
- Reflection from bulkhead
- Jerky transmission
- Bad blind spot
- No side windows
- No floor liner
The bottom line?
Trafic performs well but in van land it’s all about the basics.
If you spend a lot of time getting in and out of a van, then be sure to give it a try before you buy.
For our money the seating position is a little too high and the lack of a grab handle and footrest beggars belief.
Then there’s the load area which really needs a floor liner, both to kneel on and to stop items from moving around — rubberised mats work well.
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Renault Trafic LWB Premium Auto, priced at $45,990 driveaway
Looks - 7.5/10
Performance - 7.5/10
Safety - 7/10
Thirst - 7.5/10
Practicality - 7/10
Comfort - 6/10
Tech - 7.5/10
Value - 7.5/10