What is it?
It’s a great example of a commercial vehicle that can double as a family wagon.
Renault has a great range of LCV, or light commercial vehicles, and this long wheelbase version, with six seats, still offers plenty of useable cargo space.
Behind the stylish front end, complete with bonnet, is a 1.6-litre twin turbo four cylinder diesel engine.
Peak torque is a hefty 340Nm at 1500rpm, and peak power is 103kW at 3500rpm, and that’s the point the engine runs out of steam.
Transmission is a easy to use 6-speed manual. An auto isn’t offered.
Economy is rated at 6.2L/100km for the combined cycle, with a tank size of 80 litres.
Our test drive of more than 400km in an urban cycle used just over a quarter of a tank.
What’s it cost?
At the time of writing, Renault Australia is advertising the vehicle as tested at $47,990 driveaway. This includes a three-year warranty and service intervals of 12 months or 30,000km.
For the money there are six seats, four cubic metre cargo capacity, and a great ride and handling package.
It’s one millimetre shy of 5.4m in overall length, and packs a whopping 3.5m wheelbase.
There are two rows of three seats, with storage lockers under the front, centre and left seat. There is also a tool kit located under the driver’s seat.
The rear seats are accessed via sliding doors, non-powered mind, on each side. There are sliding windows fitted as are pull down sunshades.
Floor coverings are commercial vehicle rubber, meaning they’re easy to clean.
Audio comes from a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and DAB, and yes, the DAB tuner isn’t as sensitive as that found elsewhere. But, when tuned in, the quality from the front door mounted speakers, and from above and behind driver and front seat passenger is very, very good.
The seats themselves are comfortable enough for most family members and there is, naturally, plenty of head and legroom.
Overall ergonomics are spot on, with most switchgear, including the gear selector and built in mobile phone holder, about where your hand expects to find them.
Rear vision isn’t great , but the exterior mirrors do have separate wide angle lenses which help somewhat when reversing or lane changing.
That rear vision isn’t helped by the bulkhead directly behind the second row seats, and that in itself squeaks with body movement.
Outside it’s almost a standard looking van, bar the Gallic nose and bonnet. By pushing the engine forward it helps handling and improves impact resistance.
The bonnet itself is easy to open and allows easy service access.
The tailgate is also non-powered and comes with a simple pullstrap to help close it.
The 17-inch wheels are alloy, not steel, and come with Dunlop 215/60 rubber.
Safety is adequate, with mandated traction control items, Hill Start Assist, and front and side airbags.
A rear camera and rear sensors are fitted, but there is no automatic emergency braking or cruise control linked to a forward sensor system.
Renault does list an impressive array of accessories, including LED interior strip lights, snow chains, and plenty in respect to the cargo side.
What’s it go like?
The manual is a delight, with a well weighted and well sprung mechanism.
First and second gear are well spaced to take advantage of the engine’s low rev points for torque and power. Pickup is spot on, and the clutch is light enough not to stress, but heavy enough to provide good, progressive travel.
Overall gearing has the sixth gear ticking over right where Renault says peak torque is available when travelling at highway speeds. Under that and in higher gears, turbo boost may disappear, but comes back with a real vengeance at around 1300rpm.
First and second are short ratios but designed to help get the 1736kg (plus cargo and fuel) machine under way. Third and fourth are a little more spaced out, and help when transitioning from urban to highway speeds, or when in an urban drive and not able to go higher in the gears.
Ride quality is very car like, with a low centre of gravity and taut cargo carrying oriented suspension.
Sitting up high it feels as if you’re sitting directly over the wheels, not pushed forward as they are. So the expected iffy handling never actually eventuates.
It is a truly easy vehicle to drive on normal roads, but also surprisingly easy to belt through tight and twisty mountain roads.
What we like?
- Plenty of useable human space
- Easy access to the cabins
- Drives unexpectedly well
- Better value as a people mover and cargo delivery vehicle than dedicated people movers
What we don’t like?
- Centreline rear vision is average at best
- Bulkhead mounting points need work
The bottom line?
It’s a heckuva bundle of fun and easier than expected to drive, given the van’s overall size. With plenty of cargo space, it’ll easily double as a work vehicle, but still has the capacity to drop off the kids at sport. And it’s incredible value for its size, ability, and economy.
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Renault Trafic Crew Life, priced from $47,990 driveaway
- Looks - 7.5/107.5/10
- Performance - 8/108/10
- Safety - 6.5/106.5/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 9/109/10
- Comfort - 7.5/107.5/10
- Tech - 7/107/10
- Value - 8/108/10