The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
Passenger versions of vans aren't generally what your average fleet user is looking to buy. But if you think this isn't for you, think... The shape of things to come

Passenger-carrying vans like the new Renault Trafic Passenger give a pretty good indication as to what the finished van will be like. Most noticeable is that this latest Trafic has undergone a minor facelift as it enters its 40th year in production. 

This new version is very different from the 1980 original, but also modestly changed from the third-generation van introduced in 2014 and revamped in 2019. The Trafic Passenger has an all-new front end, new bumpers and new LED headlights which incorporate a C-shaped LED light signature, which makes the Trafic Passenger appear more closely related to the car range. The van will get all of these changes too, so you are looking at the front end of the van which will go on sale next year. 

The main difference is the shape of the headlights which are now narrower and more pronounced with that C-shape LED, the bonnet which goes from smooth to creased for a more aggressive look, and a wider-looking, more upright and substantial grille. The rest of the outside design remains the same, but the changes make the Trafic look beefier and closer to the road. 

More has changed on the inside, where there’s a new instrument panel and touchscreen infotainment system, with new plastics that give off an upmarket vibe. The infotainment screen is now floating – like many others in the sector – freeing up space lower down in the dash for revised heating controls which are now ringed in chrome. Controls for the infotainment are mixed between the touchscreen itself and two sidebars at either edge of the screen, while the new “piano” keyboard found beneath it neatly combines an array of other buttons that would otherwise be lumped together in the dash and includes the hazard lights, door lock and auto stop-start cut-off.

The multi-function steering wheel is now far more advanced, no longer just controlling volume and cruise control, but also adaptive cruise control (if fitted), telephone connection and a trip computer. In our test vehicle – the higher Sport trim rather than the entry-level Business – the wheel was wrapped in faux leather and has a new “Java” fabric on the seats. Along with the grained plastic on the dash and the healthy application of chrome bits, however, this is essentially the interior you’ll find in the top-end panel van.

Business trim vans get a 3.5in black-and-white digital display in the instrument panel and a more humble DAB radio unit rather than a 4.2in colour screen and the 8in touchscreen. Standard equipment, however, does include electric front windows, cruise control and electric heated mirrors. There’s also remote central locking and Isofix child seat mountings on the outer second-row seats. Sport trim with the EasyLink touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration also gives you a connected navigation service for three free years of Google searches, live traffic and weather information. 

There are automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers, manual air conditioning, internal LED lighting and folding mirrors amongst the Sport’s other add-ons.

Like the van, the Trafic Passenger is available in two body lengths, but if you want the most powerful engine you’ll have to plump for the Sport model which gets a 168hp version of the 2-litre dCi engine that now meets the Euro 6D-full emissions regulations. Otherwise there’s 109hp or 150hp options to choose from. 

If the Passenger van is anything to go by, the new van will be a decent improvement over the old with a quieter ride and more in the way of driver assistance systems that include 360-degree parking sensors (£630) as well as Lane Departure Warning, Blindspot Warning, over speed prevention, active emergency braking, automatic high beam and adaptative cruise control – all of which form part of the Advance Driver Assist Pack (£1,584).

With all that, the Trafic Passenger is more relaxing to drive than ever before, quieter to be in and better to look at. It certainly bodes well for the panel van.