– By Rod Fuller –
Renault has a reputation for delivering quality commercial vehicles that serve the needs of businesses both small and large in Europe. Recently, I had the pleasure of sampling the Renault ‘Family of Vans’ and can say that no matter what size business you have, what size fleet you run, or whether you are in the government or private sectors; Renault will have the right van for you to suit Australian conditions.
Renault’s class leading and award winning ‘Family of Vans’ come with a three year 200,000km warranty, 24hr/7 day a week roadside assist and three year capped price services (twelve month service intervals). So this should give you some comfort about costs and reliability. But what are they like to live with everyday? And what are they like for the driver?
“Little Brother” – Renault Kangoo – City Specialist
European Styling and loads of space
Are CBD deliveries are your thing? Always negotiating tight city streets and needing to get in and out quickly to get the job done? Then the Kangoo Compact is the van for you.
I drove the Kangoo Compact with the new 1.2L Turbo engine and six speed auto, which is very zippy whilst offering reasonable fuel economy. The transmission is quite smooth and allows the responsiveness and power of the engine to be well utilised. However it does require 95 premium unleaded and that may prove to be a cost concern.
Load capacity is an impressive at 3.0 cubic metres and 540kg. With sliding doors on either side plus the large lifting tailgate at the back, quick and easy access for loading/unloading your deliveries is a breeze with the Kangoo.
The Kangoo rides well on 195/65R15 Michelin tyres, but there are two load ratings of tyre specified depending on the model variant you choose. The Compact lists 195/65R15 91T, which is a very popular passenger vehicle tyre size, whereas the Maxi and Crew variants (and the Turbo model I drove) require the 195/65R15 95T which in most tyre brands will be a more expensive option.
For the driver, the Kangoo offers a very comfortable seating position, with good seat height allowing excellent forward visibility, and large electrically adjustable outside mirrors give clear vision of what is behind you whilst driving.
The cabin area of the Kangoo is very spacious and comfortable giving the driver a feeling that its a much larger vehicle than it is. And storage compartments in the cabin area are everywhere. A huge glovebox and deep centre console bin plus in the door trims and the centre console there is a place to put everything you need for a day (or two) doing business out on the road.
Blue tooth connectivity for your phone is quick simple and easy to use, but the sound quality when using your phone lacks a little, compared to other vans. Rear parking sensors are standard, but you have to upgrade to the R-Link audio infotainment system to get Sat Nav and a reversing camera. (The reversing camera is only available with twin rear doors).
The usual 12V power outlet and USB connection feature as does the speed limiter function which is very handy when traversing school zones.
Kangoo Compact, has the city covered.
“Middle Brother” – Renault Trafic Crew – Go First Class
Take the crew with you and travel to the job in style
Renault’s ‘mid-sized’ van the Trafic has been around on Australian roads for over a decade, and now we see a new variant added to the range. The Crew. Based on the LWB Trafic, the Trafic Crew adds a second row of seat into the passenger cabin, allowing five adults (six if you have the front bench seat) to be seated in comfort.
Unlike some competitor vehicles Renault has done the passenger cabin with the second row seats right, with it truly being a passenger cabin, fully sealed off from the cargo area by a bulkhead. This means the passengers are insulated from excessive road noise and temperature variations emanating from the cargo area (as well as the load itself in the cargo area). Put simply driving or riding in the Trafic Crew, is a much more comfortable and pleasant experience than other vehicles in this class.
Other creature comforts Renault have designed into the Crew’s passenger cabin are folding armrests for the driver and rear seat passengers with a 12V outlet in the crew area and under seat storage. In fact, as there in no console between the front seats and a flat floor, it also allows front and rear passengers or even the driver to effectively walk through to swap seats – when the vehicle is stopped of course! Brilliant.
The Trafic Crew I drove was also fitted with the optional ‘Crew Lifestyle Pack’ which also added a few other niceties, such as 17”inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, reclining back seats, extra reading and entry lights, keyless entry and engine start and a seven inch touchscreen multimedia display for the stereo controls and sat nav. All of this makes me think that this vehicle could also be considered for use as a family vehicle. Albeit a family with no more than three kids and the need to carry a massive amount of stuff with them!
All the niceties aside, this is still a serious work vehicle with the load carrying capacity (1100kg payload and 4.0 cubic metre cargo area) to take all the gear you need to get the job done.
Powered by a twin turbo (103kw/340nm) diesel with a six speed manual transmission driving the front wheels the Crew is a pleasure to drive. It powers along the highway or city streets effortlessly and returns excellent fuel economy figures (6.2lt/100km combined) helped no doubt by the auto start/stop feature of the engine. CO2 emissions are rated at 164g/km.
Cruise control and speed limiter feature on this vehicle as well as ABS, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Brake Assist and Anti-Rollover Protection, all of which help to make the Trafic Crew a safer vehicle. Bluetooth connectivity is simple and easy with good sound quality (helped in no small part by the bulk head separating the passenger and cargo compartments) and a size adjustable phone cradle is also provided.
Service intervals for the Trafic are set at 12 months/30,000km, and price capping of the first three services, means your fleet or business will easily be able to forecast running costs of this vehicle for the first 90,000km of its operating life.
Renault Trafic Crew, take the crew with you and Go First Class !
“Big Brother” – Renault Master – Master of the Road
Master of the load and the road
When I picked up the keys to the Master and got my first look at the LWB Master I thought – “Well, I won’t be taking this one to the shops!”.
At over six metres in length and 2.5 metres high, this is one big van. And it needs to be, with its huge 13 cubic metres load capacity and 1,540kg payload, mathematics/physics dictate that if it is carrying these types of loads, then that is how big it has to be.
Undeterred I climbed aboard and set off into heavy afternoon peak hour traffic. I was surprised at how quickly I became accustomed to the Master’s size and in fact how easy it is to drive. Being a FWD it does have a large turning circle (15.7m) but the steering is still only 3.7 turns lock to lock. The six speed manual transmission is smooth and easy to use, the clutch well weighted and the 2.3lt twin-turbocharged diesel engine (120kw/350nm) effortlessly propels the big van along. I averaged fuel economy at 10.8lt/100km for the time I drove the van, with the help of the engine auto stop/start feature.
The cabin space is well designed and eminently comfortable. The steel bulkhead that separates the passenger cabin and the load area is a primary contributor to driver and passenger comfort insulating them safely from the load area as well as from excessive road noise and allows the air conditioner to effectively cool or heat the passenger cabin.
Creature comforts abound with an excellent seating position for the driver complete with an armrest and lumbar support (a mandatory on all cars for me) and provides for a clear and uninterrupted view of the road ahead. The steering wheel is height but not reach adjustable. There are so many storage compartments in the cabin that I was running out of fingers and toes to count them all. There are coin holders, cup holders, bottle holders, door bins, console compartments, overhead and under seat compartments, glove boxes and dashboard compartments. Just when you think you have found them all, the next day you’ll discover another one. So if you can’t find the perfect hidey hole to put that thingy, whilst you’re driving, then you haven’t looked hard enough.
There is seating for three in the cabin, but the middle seat folds down to reveal a very handy table that will swivels, that is just perfect for working on a laptop or writing up your notes or order book (when stopped of course) on a busy day out on the road.
Connecting your phone via blue-tooth is simple and easy (and there are many places to store the phone as well), and the sound quality through the stereo is quite good. A reversing camera and parking sensors are standard, but Sat Nav with a seven inch touchscreen is an optional extra. Two USB and one AUX input are provided, but only one 12V outlet, which meant I couldn’t run my dash cam and Navman at the same time.
Service intervals for the Master are 12 months/30,000km and with Renault’s price capping of the first three services, you or your fleet manager can accurately forecast servicing costs for the vehicle first 90,000km.
There’s even storage space inside the roof, above the cabin
With massive load capacity, driver comforts and powerful twin-turbo engine the Renault Master is a pleasure to drive and would be the ideal van for any delivery driver needing to transport large loads. Big brother is Master of the Road.