Now that Renault’s revamped Master is well established on What Van?’s long-term fleet I’ve grown fond of its restyled front-end, which gives the big van a pugnacious appearance, and come to more fully appreciate its reworked 2.3-litre dCi diesel engine.
Changes to the drivetrain include a new cooling system and a bit more power on offer. The engine is fitted with a pair of fixed-geometry turbochargers and is available at 130hp/330Nm, 135hp/360Nm, 145hp/360Nm, 150hp/385Nm or 180hp/400Nm.
Our front-wheel drive long-wheelbase medium-height 3.5t van in Business+ trim has 150hp on tap, which is channelled through the six-speed manual gearbox. Customers working on frequent stop/start deliveries may prefer to opt for the six-speed auto.
As temperatures have risen heading into summer, I’ve been glad of the manual air conditioning, while rear parking sensors have taken the strain out of awkward reversing manoeuvres.
For a large panel van the handling is remarkably precise, with ample feedback through the steering giving you the confidence to tackle tight bends without fearing you are going to come unstuck.
With next to zero weight in the back, and with 150 horses to play with, performance is never going to be a problem. Getting the best out of those horses can be a struggle, however, because the gear change is not always that smooth.
The Master rides comparatively well and is not seriously upset by the umpteen defects in Britain’s pockmarked road surfaces.
In-cab noise levels are a little on the high side, but cannot be described as an issue, aside from the near-constant creaking emanating from somewhere near the base of the driver’s seat.
Rather than boasting the more usual three-seater configuration, our Master is a two-seater. Both the driver’s seat and the passenger seat are height-adjustable.
Fuel economy? I’m usually getting around 45mpg – around 4mpg short of the official figure.
With a sliding door on each side – the right-hand door is optional – and twin rear doors that can be swung through 270°, accessing the cargo area could scarcely be easier. Front-wheel drive means a low loading height, which has come in handy during lockdown when utilising the load bay as a space to store stuff that could not otherwise be readily disposed of.
A total of 10 load tie-down points are fitted along with a full-height steel bulkhead. It looks tough enough to prevent any loose items from hurtling forwards into the cab.
Report card: Handling = 4/5
Renault Master LM35 dCi 150 Business+
Official combined fuel economy 47.1mpg
Our average consumption 43.0mpg (est)
Price range £26,350-£37,020
Price (ex VAT) £33,000
Service intervals 2yrs/25,000mls
Load length 3,733mm
Load width (min/max) 1,380/1,765mm
Load cube 13,0m3
Gross payload 1,359kg
Engine size/power 2,298cc/150hp