What is it?
Noticed the many Renault Trafics on the road these days?
Boxes are the most space-efficient items on the planet and the Trafic is one of many such boxmobiles.
It’s also one of the most reliable and driver-friendly, so no wonder it’s the choice of a steadily increasing number of couriers.
If you spend your working hours in the cab, it helps to be comfortable. And if you’re a courier, you’ll get in and out a great many times a day.
What’s it cost?
There are several Trafics to choose from, in long and short wheelbase, manual or auto transmission and a trio of power plants.
Prices start at $36,490, peak at $52,490 and the one we spent time in, the short wheelbase Premium with the 125kW motor, was at the midway mark: $43,490.
It’s a smart-looking machine, with sliding side doors left and right, wide-opening barn doors at the back, good seating for the driver and two more chaps up front and of course there’s a reversing camera and parking sensors so you can ease it into tight spots without losing one of the side mirrors in the process.
It has a 1216kg payload capacity and the cargo bay can accommodate 5.2 cubic metres, or, if you’re a courier, a heck of a lot of parcels.
It can accommodate pallets too.
It comes with a bunch of active safety features and unexpected little touches like auto-on wipers, LED daytime running lights and dusk-sensing LED headlights and foglights with cornering function for those in front.
Add to that a 5 year/200,000km warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance and capped servicing costs, and, well, what more can a sporty-minded driver wish for?
What’s it go like?
The big surprise was the pleasure of driving it.
I’m surprised Renault hasn’t (yet) followed the trend, especially in some SUVs, of adding ‘sport’ to some their up-spec models.
The Trafic Premium is now powered by the latest 125kW 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It’s an eager-to-run beastie, capable of zooming to 100km/h in 10 seconds, so a keen courier will be able to do more deliveries than many a rival is a less ‘sporty’ conveyance.
More than a workhorse, or racehorse, the cabin is pretty classy.
There’s lovely black cloth upholstery and a premium instrument panel with leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear selector, a good infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, digital radio, satnav and it’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto friendly.
Lots of cabin storage nooks too.
They include bottle holders and storage bins in the front doors, cup holders, two gloveboxes and if you’re a solo operator, you can flip the the two front passenger seats forward and carry extra stuff in the big cavity below.
I was surprised that there was no grab handle inside, above the doors, which would have made it easier to get in and out. It wouldn’t bother young agile folk, but creakier mature people need all the help they can get these days.
The front-wheel drive Trafic runs on 16-inch wheels with MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link coil-spring solid-beam rear axle, fand power-assisted rack and pinion steering makes for a tight turning circle.
Keen drivers will love the way the Trafic accelerates and zips through the gears.
They’ll also enjoy its sharp steering, powerful four-wheel disc brakes and the wide-tracked suspension, which all add up to a bit of joie de vivre not generally expected of a working van.
One friend asked it it was driving an echo chamber, but non, mon ami, that is definitely not the case.
Our Traffic had a steel bulkhead between cabin and cargo bay, which made the cabin commendably quiet, so you can enjoy The Tremeloes’ ‘Silence is golden’ to the fullest. Or your favourite piece of Mendelsohn.
Fuel consumption is naturally dependent on where and how the vehicle is employed but our usual mix of urban, suburban and highway route resulted in 7.8L/100km.
Dr Rob Bobla had a run in the test vehicle and was pretty impressed.
‘The motor has bags of torque (380) Nmand sent the van scooting along the black conveyer belts of highway very nicely,’ he said.
‘It shifts through the gears quickly and has a tiptronic knock-over transmission feature for urgent parcel deliveries
‘Suspension and roadholding also impressed. The Trafic feels composed through the turns.
‘There’s excellent visibility from the cab via multi-partitioned mirrors and for a medium-sized commercial van there’s room in the back for a colossal 2 person jacuzzi.’
What we like?
- Car-like cabin
- Peppy performance
- Good handling
- Top transmission
- Cargo space and access
- Cabin silence
What we don’t like?
- No hoisting handle for short or creaky drivers
The bottom line?
Formidable, in French. Which in English translates to impressively large, powerful, intense or capable.
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Renault Trafic SWB Premium Auto, priced at $43,490 driveaway
Looks - 7.5/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Safety - 8/10
Thirst - 8/10
Practicality - 8.5/10
Comfort - 8/10
Tech - 8.5/10
Value - 8/10