Van Fleet World gets an exclusive UK first drive of Renault’s updated Trafic, says Dan Gilkes.
While a bolder grille, full LED headlamps and a new C-shaped LED daytime light signature may be what first draws the eye to Renault’s latest Trafic, it’s what’s behind the grille that will have the most effect on van fleet operations. Having downsized Trafic’s engines some years ago, from 2.0-litre to 1.6-litre, the French giant has reversed that decision, installing new 2.0-litre powerplants to meet Euro 6d-Temp emissions regulations.
As well as being cleaner and more efficient, power rises, with Trafic now offered at 120hp, 145hp and 170hp. All three drive through six-speed manual gearboxes to the front wheels, while the 145hp and 170hp engines can also be specified with a new six-speed EDC automatic transmission.
The company has simplified the range, to just 53 models, to make it easier to choose the right Trafic to meet a fleet’s needs. You can still have short and long wheelbase vans, with standard or high roof, while the choice of trim levels is limited to three – Business, Business+ and Sport.
All come with a DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity. The driver’s seat has lumbar adjustment and an arm rest, while the windows and door mirrors are electrically operated. Equipment includes ESC, Hill Start Assist with GripXtend and an alarm.
Opt for Business+ and you add manual air conditioning, a passenger bench with underseat storage and the fold-down centre seat back Mobile Office. The front bumper, door rails and rear tail light columns get body colour paint and there is a full steel bulkhead with a load-through facility. Rear parking sensors are assisted by the Wide View Mirror on the back of the passenger sun blind.
The range-topping Sport also comes with auto headlights and wipers, Renault MediaNav with a 7-inch touchscreen, a premium dashboard with lidded storage, metallic paint that extends to mirror housings, plus 17-inch alloy wheels.
There was little wrong with the previous Trafic from behind the wheel, but the new 145hp engine certainly makes life easy for the driver. With maximum torque available from just 1,500rpm, it literally wafts along, whatever the gear. Not having to rev the engine makes for a very refined drive, with low noise levels even at motorway speeds. The mid-weight Renault also retains its secure handling and comfortable ride.
The interior updates work well, offering plenty of storage for personal and work items, and the improved connectivity all seems to use functions effectively, though it would be nice to have Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto.
Trafic remains a hugely important van for Renault in the UK, accounting for more than 10,000 sales a year. Making major changes therefore needs careful consideration. If those improved fuel figures can be achieved, despite the additional power and torque, the company should have little to worry about.
The latest Trafic is a good-looking van, with the performance and potential productivity to match.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5