Confronted with having to transport a small mountain of sand in 25kg bags, Steve Banner gave thanks for the fact that Trafic is front-wheel-drive.
The Trafic’s low loading height makes it easier to manhandle bags in and out of the van's load area than would be the case with the higher cargo bed height usually associated with rear-wheel-drive.
OK, at perhaps 150mm the difference may look small on paper but can assume significant proportions on a humid summer's day. That's especially the case if you have two or three trips to make and thus two or three loading and unloading exercises to perform.
Trafic offers decent access to its 5.2cu/m cargo bay through its twin rear doors and its sliding nearside door. That made the whole undertaking a little easier especially when it came to ensuring that the cargo was evenly spread across the load bed.
Remember that the payload figures quoted by manufacturers - our Trafic can handle a gross payload of 1056kg - assume that the load is uniformly distributed.
While Trafic wasn't laden to its maximum capacity it wasn't far short of it but it nonetheless coped well, contentedly lugging its burden up some of the more-demanding hills that Herefordshire and Gloucestershire can offer. Indeed its 120hp/320Nm twin-turbo 1.6-litre dCi diesel at times revealed reserves of low-down grit and grunt that we didn't realised it possessed.
Nor were Trafic's traction or handling in any way compromised despite all that sand in the back.
We decided that the load's own weight would keep it in place and that there was no need to strap it down. Having said that, we were nonetheless reassured by Trafic's solid, full-height, steel bulkhead.
We had no wish for any of those heavy bags to join us in the cab if we had to brake heavily.
We kept our fingers well away from the ECO button next to the gear lever.
It alters the accelerator pedal's response and reduces engine power and as a consequence can cut fuel usage by up to a worthwhile 10%. However the impact on performance would we suspect have slowed us down significantly on some of the more-challenging inclines; and made us rather unpopular with other road users.