Renault Trafic review

Category: Medium Van

Section: Introduction

Star rating
Renault Trafic front
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What Car? says...

Evolution has been key to the success of the Renault Trafic. Having replaced the revolutionary Renault Estafette in 1981, the Trafic has enjoyed three generations of sales superiority in Europe.

True, it doesn’t enjoy quite the same reputation in the UK, where the Ford Transit Custom and Volkswagen Transporter regularly outrank the Trafic in the sales charts, but it’s still been a big sales success. Renault also shares the Trafic with partners who sell it as the Nissan NV300 and Fiat Talento.

Over its near-40-year reign existence, the Trafic has adapted and kept with the times, and this latest version is no different. Visually, there’s not much to write home about, but the headlights are now LEDs and there’s a new shape to them. The Renault badge is a bit more prominent and the front grille has changed slightly with some chrome inserts.

Power comes from a 2.0-litre diesel engine producing up to 167bhp. There are a number of different power options, with the dCi 120, dCi 145 and dCi 170 units producing 117bhp, 143bhp and 167bhp respectively. All are now Euro-6d compliant and, despite having a larger capacity than the engine in the previous Trafic, actually manages to cut fuel consumption by as much as 2mpg on the dCi 145 models.

A six-speed manual gearbox is still standard across the range, but there is now the option of a six-speed dual-clutch automatic on the two highest-powered engines.

A range of body types is available, including double-cab crew vans and minibus variants with seating for up to nine. Panel vans come in standard (L1) or long-wheelbase (L2) versions with standard (H1) or high (H2) roofs and a load space of up to 8.6 cubic metres in capacity.

Business, Business+ and Sport remain as the three trim options, but look out for special-edition models that offer up greater amounts of premium equipment for a modest increase in price.

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

A manual gearbox is standard with all three engine options, but if you can afford the added premium, we’d go for the automatic that's available on the 145 or 170. We’d also be inclined to go for the top-powered engine, because it feels the more natural fit in this particular van.

When it comes to turning a wheel, the Trafic now has improved finesse to it – something that was lacking previously. The Transit Custom is still the benchmark in the segment for its driving abilities, but the Trafic is now right up there alongside its rivals from Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall.

The steering is precise and the ride is comfortable, both laden and unladen. Previously the Trafic felt a bit crashy, particularly when lightly loaded, but now it feels more surefooted.

It’s also a quiet van to drive, with good sound deadening from the road and engine, although wind noise can be noticeable compared with other vans. 

Renault Trafic rear

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