It’s high time a minibus made it into What Van?, and given that in panel van form Renault’s Trafic has featured as a first drive, being given an extended test run as part of the What Van? fleet, and won this magazine’s Editor Choice Award for 2017, we thought the brand’s Passenger model was worthy of closer inspection.
Seating up to nine, the Passenger was launched in 2015 and according to Renault has sold at the rate of approximately 1,000 vehicles per calendar year since then.
It is available in a variety of short- or long-wheelbase guises and with Business or Sport trim levels, while Renault also offers a factory wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) conversion.
There are three Euro6 1.6-litre engines offering power outputs of 95hp, 125hp and 145hp, with CO2 emissions between 145g/km and 155g/km. An official combined fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg is the maximum the line-up has to offer.
All Passengers come with a six-speed manual gearbox and we took delivery of a long-wheelbase model with the most powerful engine.
It provides ample performance, plus a slick, quick gear change and a compliant ride, and while the handling doesn’t match the best that rivals such as the Ford Transit Custom have to offer, it’s sharp enough.
Where the Trafic does excel is in the area of cabin storage space. There are a variety of shelves, bins, cubbyholes and hidden cavities – 14 storage compartments in total – able to hold up to 90 litres’ worth of bits and bobs.
In addition, Renault claims up to 1.8m3 of load space with all nine seats up. However, the space is adaptable as the rear parcel shelves can be removed and the seat backs on the third row of seats fold flat, extending that load space to 3.4m3. Furthermore, long items will slide under the seats along the length of the vehicle.
There’s plenty of people space in the second and third row of seats, while the more regular-sized players in the local under-10 football team found there was enough headroom for them to walk around the vehicle – once they’d arrived at the opposition’s pitch – without banging their skulls. There are plenty of grab handles too for those in the back, but not any for those sitting in the front. Two sliding side doors are provided, although entry to the third row is via the passenger side only. And if you’ve got really little ones to transport there are Isofix points for the outer seats of the second row.
Our test model came with a host of optional extras: heated driver’s and passenger front seat with airbags – front, lateral and curtain – for £550 (otherwise it’s the standard driver and front passenger airbag); R-Link seven-inch multimedia system featuring TomTom Live traffic updates, satnav, DAB, Bluetooth and cruise control with speed limiter for £365 (Bluetooth, DAB, cruise control with speed limiter, satnav and a seven-inch touchscreen also come as standard, but then you don’t get the R-Link extras such as apps and cloud connectivity); additional heating for rear passenger area for £350; rear parking camera for £90 (rear parking sensors are standard); extra tinted windows (£175); luggage net (£100); and Western Europe map upgrade (£90).
With models as good and comfortable and well-equipped as this, What Van? might not wait quite so long again to get behind the wheel of another minibus.
Renault Trafic Passenger LL29 Energy dCi 145 Sport Nav
Price (ex VAT) £28,300
Price range (ex VAT) £20,900–£28,300
Insurance group 39
Service intervals 1yr/18,000mls
Load length n/a
Load width (min/max) n/a
Load bay height n/a
Gross payload n/a
Load volume 1.8m3
Engine size/power 1,598cc/145hp
Combined fuel economy 47.9mpg
The Trafic panel van is a well thought-out package with good road manners, and this is no different.