What's the used Renault TRAFIC van like?
Renault has spent 30 years topping the light commercial vehicles sales chart in Europe and with good reason. The small Renault Kangoo van helped define the segment while the mid-sized Renault Trafic, first launched in the UK in 1981, has gone on to enjoy great success.
This is the third generation version, built from 2014 and substantially updated in 2019. Built at Renault’s own factory in Sandouville, France, its platform is shared by three other models, the Nissan NV300, Fiat Talento and the Luton-built Vauxhall Vivaro.
Powered by a 1.6-litre dCi engine, the Trafic is available with four engines producing 94bhp, 119bhp using a single turbo and 123bhp and 143bhp with a twin-turbo version. All four models use a six-speed manual gearbox, but there’s no option of an automatic transmission which key rivals the Ford Transit Custom and Mercedes-Benz Vito do provide.
A range of differing body types are available in addition to the standard and high roof and short and long-wheelbase panel vans, these include double cab Crew vans and Passenger minibus variants that can seat up to nine.
Three trim levels are available, Business, Business+ and Sport Nav, but Renault is also in the habit of rolling out a fourth special edition model which in the past have celebrated its links to F1 or the Premier Edition which is a tie-up with its football television partnership.
Business models get the basics, with electric windows, electric heated door mirrors, alarm and immobiliser, adjustable steering wheel, a DAB radio with Bluetooth and a multifunction trip computer. Business+ models get manual air conditioning, the wide-angle passenger mirror, rear parking sensors and the mobile office package that includes a smartphone cradle and a fold-down centre seat back with detachable clipboard. There’s also body-coloured bumpers added to enhance the look of the van. Finally, Sport models get an upgraded dashboard with a closeable upper storage compartment, leather-covered steering wheel, and cruise control and speed limiter. There are also 17in alloy wheels, front fog lights, body-coloured mirrors and metallic paint thrown in. Additional features include automatic headlights and wipers, an upgraded DAB radio with Aux input and USB sockets, but it’s the addition of the MediaNav 7.0in touchscreen navigation system that really boosts the specification of the Sport model. It’s a neat and stylish infotainment system that combines audio, telephone and navigation systems.
Buying a van is often about price rather than performance, but there is a noticeable difference between the single and twin-turbo engines that might have a bearing on your choice. The twin-turbo engine is a definite winner over the single-turbo unit. The entry-level 94bhp unit doesn’t quite have enough power and character to really fit well in the Trafic. The 119bhp is a decent unit and our recommendation in the Mercedes-Benz Vito which shares Renault’s engine, but with two twin-turbo options to choose from in the Renault Trafic range it has to come down to a choice between them. The 143bhp unit certainly has power on its side, but the 123bhp proves to be a better choice for a van of this size capably combining refinement, and economy with its low-down torque. Choose either of the twin-turbo engines, however, in either the Trafic, Vauxhall Vivaro, Fiat Talento or Nissan NV300 and you won’t be disappointed.
The Trafic does lose out to the segments best seller the Ford Transit Custom in the power-stakes, with Ford offering a 128bhp and 168bhp option from its 2.0-litre engine, but the 1.6-litres of the Renault feels a far more relaxed engine which a better power delivery. One area where the Trafic cannot compete with the Transit Custom, however, is in the driving. The Custom is razor-sharp and great fun to drive and while the Trafic isn’t a bad steer it can’t quite live up to the Ford’s dynamics. It still has an accurate turn-in and feels well-balanced, with a ride that is relatively firm but not too harsh.
It’s also a quiet van to drive, with good sound deadening from the road and engine but wind noise can be quite noticeable compared to other vans.
We like the visibility in the Trafic which is greatly improved by the option of the wide-angle passenger mirror within the sun visor. It’s an option that appears on the Trafic and Renault Master and although it does take some getting used to with practice you can flip it down to the right angle very quickly and get a much clearer view of any approaching traffic at awkward junctions.
The three-tier system makes comparing the trim level to that of the Vauxhall Vivaro quite difficult as it has just two options, but above the entry-level Business the Trafic does prove to be good value for money when it comes to the level of equipment when compared to other sector rivals like Mercedes and Volkswagen. The interior is not as sophisticated as its German adversaries with a coarser grade of plastic used liberally inside, but it is well thought out and ergonomic.
Storage could be improved, with just one large central dash area suitable for folders or papers, and an averagely sized glovebox. If you need the additional storage, the addition of the lidded upper glovebox on the Business+ vans is of value if wanting to keep items out of sight.
Throughout the generations of the Renault Trafic the overall size of the vehicle as well as the space for the occupant has gradually increased but Renault has been careful to maintain the integrity of the loadspace to ensure that it remains just as productive as ever.
The new generation in 2014 saw an increase to the length which was translated into the useable space in the rear with an additional 216mm added to the length. That brings the overall length to 4998mm and 5398mm respectively for standard and long-wheelbase models, while the internal storage lengths range from 2537mm to 2937mm. For longer loads, there’s also a load-through bulkhead which extends maximum carrying length in short-wheelbase models from 2537mm to 3750mm and in long-wheelbase variants from 2937mm to 4150mm.
Load volumes peak at 8.6m3 which is slightly more than the biggest Transit Custom which can carry 8.3m3, while maximum payload is 1,075kg in 2.8-tonne short-wheelbase models and 1,280kg in 3-tonne gross vehicle weight vans. A passenger-side door is fitted as standard and the rear doors open to 180-degrees.
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