October 18, 2019

Renault revamps Master and Trafic

Renault’s Trafic and Master have both received a revamp, with engine, equipment and styling changes all calculated to help boost their performance in competitive sectors of the market.

Trafic’s old 1.6-litre diesel engine has been replaced by a new 2.0-litre dCi diesel at 120hp, 145hp or 170hp and equipped with a variable-geometry turbocharger and Stop & Start. Torque is up to 380Nm depending on the model selected.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be better; up to 2mpg better on the 145hp version. A 95hp 1.6-litre diesel remains available, but Renault will not be marketing it on this side of the Channel.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard. A six-speed EDC – Efficient Dual Clutch – automatic gearbox sourced from transmission specialist Getrag is being offered as an option on the two most powerful derivatives.

Trafic gets an altered front, with full-LED headlamps incorporated into the van’s C-shaped lighting signature and a bolder grille. The dashboard has received a number of cosmetic changes, and Renault is offering Trafic with its latest R-LINK Evolution and Media Nav Evolution navigation and multi-media packages.

Both are compatible with Android Auto while Media Nav Evolution is compatible with Apple CarPlay too. A new microphone has been installed for better hands-free phone-call quality.

Other minor embellishments include an optional three-button remote key available with single door opening for improved security.

Customers can also secure the cargo doors with additional locks. Extra locks can be ordered for Master too.

The load area, which goes from 5.2m3 to 8.6m3 depending on the model, boasts improved LED lighting, says Renault.

Trim levels

Three trim levels are listed – Business, Business+ and Sport – and the van comes in two lengths and two heights. Trafic is also sold as a crew van.

Turning to Master, it too gets fresh front-end treatment, including a raised bonnet line and a prominent grille, which gives it a pugnacious, bulldog-like appearance. The C-shaped lighting signature is in evidence once again.

Inside there is more chrome on the dashboard, a new rev counter and a 5” monochrome screen.  A Media Nav Evolution multi-media navigation screen can be incorporated into the centre of the fascia along with a docking station for tablets.

Some useful features, such as a desk that pops out of the dashboard on the passenger side, are alas not being offered on right-hand-drive models at present.

Lane Departure Warning, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are all fitted.

Still marketed with the choice of either front- or rear-wheel-drive, Master is being made available with ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – with the aim of enhancing safety.

The extra ADAS features include Rear View Assist, a rear-view camera which provides medium- to long-distance vision rearwards using a display on the upper part of the windscreen. Activated at over 45mph, Side Wind Assist should help prevent the van being blown into the next lane on the motorway in a stiff crosswind, and is said to be capable of combating up to 50% of the vehicle’s lateral deflection if the wind is blowing hard.

Listed too are Front Parking Assistance and Blind Spot Warning, which should help the driver spot a cyclist sneaking up on the nearside in urban traffic, and an Autonomous Emergency Braking System.

Refreshed powertrains

Master comes with a refreshed line-up of 2.3-litre dCi diesels at 130hp/330Nm, 135hp/360N, 145hp/360Nm, 150hp/385Nm or 180hp/400Nm, delivering more power than the model has offered before. Changes include a new cooling system, and fuel consumption is said to be down by up to 3mpg.

Once again, a six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a six-speed automatic optional. The engine is fitted with a pair of fixed-geometry turbochargers.

Two trim levels are offered: Business and Business +. With four lengths and three heights to choose from, panel van load volumes go from 8m3 to 17m3 while gross weights run from 2.8 to 4.5 tonnes.

Master is also sold as a crew van, a chassis cab and a chassis double cab.

Mention should of course also be made of the electric Master Z.E 3.1-tonner with a 57kW electric motor, a claimed real-life range of 75 miles and a recharge time of six hours using a 32amp/7.4kW wall box. It too will receive the aforementioned styling modifications.

On the road

So what are the newcomers like to drive? We started by sampling a standard wheelbase, standard height L1H1 Trafic with a 145hp engine married to the EDC box. With that many horses on tap performance was not an issue, even with a 440kg test load in the 5.2m3 cargo bay. Trafic rode and handled competently, and in-cab noise levels were well under control.

For the most part the transmission delivered power smoothly, slipping from one set of gears to the next with the minimum of fuss.

On a couple of occasions however we experienced wheel-spin when pulling away from rest, admittedly on greasy road surfaces. When we were less eager with the accelerator pedal, the problem disappeared.

Trafic build quality has improved over the years. On our demonstrator the doors all shut with a satisfying clunk. It is not perfect however, with the lid on the compartment on top of the dashboard refusing to shut properly. A minor point, agreed, and Renault quickly said that it was a pre-production model; but it is not the sort of thing you would see on a Volkswagen Transporter.

We also sampled a 180hp, medium-wheelbase, medium-height L2H2, front-wheel-drive Master 3.5-tonner with a 10.8m3 load area. All those horses made short work of the 640kg test load, and the availability of ample mid-range torque meant that the Renault was able to storm up some of the steeper inclines it was asked to face without breaking a sweat.

It swung easily and smoothly through bends, and willingly soaked up any potholes and ridges in the road surface. As with Trafic, in-cab noise was not an issue.

Our test van was fitted with a Rear View Assist camera.  Any worries that constantly being able to see what is behind you while driving would be distracting proved groundless. Instead, it turned out to be a useful safety aid.

Both the vehicles we sampled were finished in Urban Grey – a new colour for both models, and one of the best paint finishes we can ever recall seeing on a Renault light commercial.  Renault had yet to come up with maximum permitted payload figures for the vans we drove at the time of writing, but our guesstimate would be 1000kg for the Trafic and 1400kg for the Master.

Electric options

The first of the new Trafics and Masters will be delivered to customers in September.  An electric Master which will feature all the styling changes should appear in October, and a high-roof Trafic with the latest updates is in the pipeline.

Electric Master is already gaining ground in the UK, albeit modestly. At the time of writing some 25 had been sold, with customers including a Scottish local authority.

Businesses may have to wait a little while for the electric Trafic however. “It will arrive between now and 2022,” Denis Le Vot, senior vice president, lcv business unit, Renault Nissan Alliance, told VanUser.

Despite Brexit and the disruption caused by changes to the official approach to measuring fuel consumption, the UK van market is holding up well says Steve Wilson, range manager, Renault Pro + LCV. “The economy is doing fine at present, the employment figures are good and home delivery is taking off,” he observes.

“Clearly we don’t know what’s going to happen about Brexit, but any impact it has won’t be felt until next year.”

Neither Master nor Trafic are hugely more expensive than their predecessors says Wilson, despite the pound’s decline in value against the euro since the June 2016 Brexit referendum. “Master is in fact around £70 cheaper although Trafic is roughly £250 dearer,” he says.

Master prices start at £26,350 with Trafic from £22,800; both excluding VAT.