We get long-term loan vehicles of all shapes and sizes in the CarAdvice offices, and the 2016 Renault Trafic could be the biggest yet.
The Renault Trafic L1H1 we have here measures 4999 millimetres long, 1956mm wide, 1971mm tall and rides on a 3098mm wheelbase. That makes it a big bus, so it’s strange to think that there’s an even bigger Trafic – the L2H1 long-wheelbase model – that measures 5399mm from nose to tail, with a 3498mm wheelbase.
As you can probably tell from the dimensions (and the pictures), this mid-sized van from French brand Renault is essentially a box on wheels. And that’s the exact purpose for which we took delivery of this Trafic, which starts at $37,990 plus on-road costs.
This is the new Sydney camera crew van. It will be used primarily as a vehicle to transport all the gear required for shooting photos or videos out on the road for the reviews you see here on CarAdvice.
Now, a little about the Renault Trafic in a more general sense.
White vans, as they’re commonly referred to, are massively popular in Europe, and Renault leads the sales race on The Continent.
In fact, the previous-generation Trafic – which was often available for $30,000 or less – was the biggest-selling light commercial vehicle for the company and the third-best-selling vehicle in the range behind the Koleos SUV and Clio hatch.
But this new model hasn’t fared quite so well; while the majority of the Renault range has risen, the Trafic has dropped to seventh on the brand's sales ranks. Even the smaller Kangoo and larger Master vans yielded better sales than the Trafic in 2015.
Renault sold 1070 examples of the Trafic last year, down from 1643 the year prior. That was the old model, which was bolstered by fleet deals with the likes of Australia Post, and by the fact it came with a (semi-) automatic gearbox.
That's right: the Trafic – unlike most competitor vehicles in the segment – doesn't come with an auto ‘box. Instead, buyers have to deal with a six-speed manual transmission.
The Toyota HiAce smashes it in the sales race – it comes with petrol and diesel, manual and auto options – and while the Hyundai iLoad doesn’t have as extensive a range, it runs second by some margin. The recently released Volkswagen Transporter also has diesel drivetrain options aplenty.
For the Trafic there is the choice of two engines – the base model dCi90 single turbo diesel model has 66kW of power and 260Nm of torque, while the dCi140 model we’ve got has two turbochargers and 103kW/340Nm.
As we’ve found in the past, the fact the engine in the Trafic is a tiny 1.6-litre unit doesn’t mean it can’t haul a heavy load. This engine is a pearler, and thankfully the six-speed manual shift action is very user-friendly.
We’ve also praised the road manners of the Trafic in reviews past, so it will be intriguing to see how comfortable the members of the video team find it over the next few months. Oh, and with three seats, we’re sure there’ll be occasions where the front-seat comfort is tested in other ways.
Because it will be used on set, we asked for some accessories to be fitted to the van, including a roof rack ($1881 including fitting) with walking platform (adds $686, inc. fitting) and a steel ladder (a further $577, inc. fitting) to help the guys with the lenses get up to the top.
Further to those bits, our Trafic also has the Premium Pack ($2490), which consists of a number of convenience items to make motoring around in a van all the time.
The goodies list includes a wide-view mirror (in the passenger’s-side sun visor) that gives a better view of what you can’t see to the side of you, as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation, and a smartphone dock – which we’ve already found is too small for the iPhone 6S Plus or Samsung S6.
It also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, Java cloth seat trim, chrome and gloss black cabin trim highlights, and heated seats. Yeah, even van drivers get cold bums.
As part of a recent update, Renault added front-side airbags to complement the dual front airbags previously fitted as standard. We told them at the launch of the new model in May last year that side airbags should have been standard from the get-go, and we’re glad the message got across.
Further to that, all Trafic models have rear parking sensors, and both twin-turbo models – the short-wheelbase we have here and the long-wheelbase version – have a rear-view camera.
This is one aspect of the van that got the production team talking as soon as we got it in the garage. Without side glazed doors (which are available at extra cost), it is hard to see what’s coming when you’re reversing out of a driveway, but the high-mounted camera offers something of a wide-angle view of your surroundings. It isn’t as good as one of those clever rear cross-traffic alert systems you can get in some cars nowadays, but it’s a damn sight better than relying on hope and luck.
Stay tuned for more on the Renault Trafic over the coming months. We’re sure it’ll be present on set at a number of exciting content production shoots, and it might even get in front of the camera, too…