The Trafic is turning out to be a more enjoyable van to live with than we expected it to be. Steve Banner is pleasantly surprised by its ride and handling.
Our Renault Trafic’s 120hp 1.6-litre dCi diesel performs just that little bit better now it's got a few miles on it.
As a consequence we have to confess to becoming a bit too fond of exploiting that performance to the full, especially when there is no weight in the 5.2m3 cargo bay to hold us back. There are times when we have to rein ourselves in as we hurtle past yet another surprised Mercedes-Benz Sprinter driver, presenting a good argument in favour of being restrained by a speed-limiter.
One is available combined with cruise control but it is a £150 extra-cost option not fitted to our test van. Maybe there is a case in favour of making it standard.
Even with a heavy right foot Trafic is not costing a fortune at the pumps. It would cost even less - 10% less if one is to believe the blurb in Renault's promotional material - if we remembered to push the ECO button.
That doesn't always happen alas; and when we do it rarely slows us down.
Having had occasion to carry two passengers on a short trip from an industrial estate on the edge of Peterborough to the railway station in the city centre we can testify that there is just enough room for the occupant of the middle seat not to start complaining that he feels cramped and hasn't got enough leg room. At least that's the case if he happens to be of medium height and build.
Travelling from Lands End to John O' Groats on the centre perch would be a big ask. But for short local treks it is absolutely fine.
Casting an eye over the options that are fitted to our demonstrator, we reckon that the best £100 a Trafic buyer is ever likely to spend is on the tyre pressure monitoring system given the hammering most van tyres receive. Trafic has ended up mounting more kerbs than we care to think about.
The monitor uses a dashboard display to warn you if the pressure is too low or if one of your tyres is punctured which should give you enough time to stop - which is what the system tells you to do - without the situation become disastrous. It also takes into account any re-setting of the tyre pressures in line with the use to which the van is being put (carrying a heavy load - gross payload capacity is 1056kg - or sustained high-speed motorway driving for instance) although one wonders how many drivers bother to do so.
We're glad our van's cargo area is ply-lined too; another option. It means we have been able to hurl shovels, rakes and all sorts of other bits and pieces into the back without being worried that the bare metal will end up being dented and scraped.
It also helps to deaden any noise emanating from the rear of the vehicle.
Perhaps it is the distinctive (optional) metallic brown paint finish's fault, but Trafic is starting to get noticed. On a couple of occasions when we've parked in the local high street people who have turned out to be small business owners and run vans themselves have come up and asked us about it.
Our interlocutors have all turned out to be Volkswagen Transporter owners.
Our advice? Fond though we are of Trafic, we've suggested that they wait and take a look at the new Transporter due to break cover later this year before they switch badges.
Trafic has participated in a rescue mission, which involved injecting fresh life into the flat battery of the writer's stranded 20-year-old Suzuki Cappuccino (which only come out when the sun shines and the weather is dry) via a set of jump leads. The little two-seater coughed into life immediately; and neither vehicle ended up with its electrics fried.