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First drive: Renault Trafic adds commercial spice

Load hauler: Renault Trafic comes in three body variants and four specification levels, but with just one engine and transmission choice.

There are worse places to be than in Trafic, the first of three new Renault LCVs

2 Apr 2004

RENAULT has hit Australia’s booming light commercial vehicle ground running, releasing the first of three new load-luggers that hope to ride the 20 per cent upswing in LCV sales over the past two years.

Renault, Europe’s largest commercial vehicle maker, says its medium Trafic van is the highly targeted result of extensive research, and will bring new customers to the French brand.

Brandishing the advertising campaign slogan "You’ll always perform well in Trafic", the mid-sized LCV will be available from April, via 16 selected capital city dealers, in two wheelbase lengths, two body heights and four specification levels – each with a 1200kg payload.

Just one engine and transmission choice will be available: a new 1.9-litre dCi common-rail direct injection turbo-diesel producing 74kW at 3500rpm and 240Nm of torque at 2000rpm, with 200Nm on tap at 1500rpm.

The new 1.9 dCi engine boasts combined average fuel economy figures of 7.9 litres per 100km, while the single transmission on offer will be Renault’s new PK6 six-speed manual. A "robotised manual" transmission will become available later in 2004.

The 2004 Trafic range opens with the short-wheelbase, low-roofed L1H1, which offers five cubic metres of load space for $33,490.

Next up is the long-wheelbase, low-roofed L2H1 with 5.8 cubic metres of payload space for $35,490, while the long-wheelbase, high-roofed L2H2 Trafic offers an 8.36 cubic metre body for $37,490.

All Trafics come equipped as standard with a driver’s airbag, power steering, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 15-watt single-CD audio with remote controls, cloth upholstery, three-year/100,000km warranty, 24-hour Renault roadside assistance, oil servicing every 15,000km and 30,000km full maintenance intervals, and a brakes towing weight of 2000kg (unbraked 750kg).

Other comfort features include twin front cupholders, a glovebox that accommodates two 1.5-litre bottles, large door pockets and twin lower dash shelves.

Renault says Trafic is the highly targeted result of extensive research, and will bring new customers to the French brand

Trafic surprises with standard seatbelt height adjustment, a reach-adjustable steering wheel, central locking, an 11.84-metre turning circle and 305mm front brake rotors that are claimed to offer 100 to 0km/h braking in a relatively short 43 metres.

In terms of cargo carrying ability, Trafic also offers vertical side panels, twin 180-degree opening rear barn doors with glazed windows, a single metre-long kerb-side sliding door with unglazed window, interior lighting, adjustable side anchorage points and a low, 540mm loading sill.

The "Air" specification available on all three models costs a further $2800 – but will be available at a limited introductory price of $500 initially – and adds air-conditioning and glovebox cooling.

The second spec level costs a further $1100 and is called "Comfort", adding power windows and mirrors and remote central locking.

Only the range-topping "Integral" specification, for another $2300, offers ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and a passenger airbag, meaning a fully-optioned L2H2 Trafic Integral will cost up to $43,690.

A rival for Volkswagen’s new Transporter and the Mercedes-Benz Vito, both of which it outsells in Europe – where some 46,500 were sold in 2003 - Trafic will be available in Apolla White, Desert Yellow, Atlantic Blue and the optional metallic Lightning Silver.

Built in both Spain and the UK, the front-drive Trafic will be joined in August by the Sprinter-sized Master and car-based Kangoo, which will rival Holden’s Combo and Citroen’s Berlingo.

2004 Renault Trafic range:

VariantWheelbase (mm)Interior height (mm)Platform length (mm)Payload (kg)Price

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