Renault’s Trafic van has won plenty of friends since it arrived in Australia and the company’s light commercial manager Lyndon Healey believes it will win a lot more when the much desired Dual clutch automatic arrives, however that might not happen for around 18 months.
While they won’t say it directly, you get the impression that Renault Australia would be far happier if they had the auto available right now as it is costing them sales with big fleets.
Despite the lack of a self shifter Trafic continues to do well selling 1730 units in 2016 and with the addition of the new Crew model this week it has added appeal to a wider spectrum of the market, providing a second row of seats and a solid barrier between it and the huge four cubic metre load area behind it. It would be ideal for everything from tradies wanting to combine their work van with their family transport, to companies requiring seating for six along with the need for a secure load area. It can still take a payload of 1118 kg with a GVM of 2940kg and maximum towing weight of 2000kg.
The cargo area is still 2314mm long and 1662mm wide, is 1268mm wide between the wheel arches and is 1387mm high while the lad space is totally flat and easy to access thanks to its 552 high sill.
The automatic so needed down under doesn’t and hasn’t had a high priority with Renault in France because while the vans are selling well down under their ultimate volume is but a blip on the radar for Europe’s leading commercial van maker, where it still sells mostly manuals.
However growing auto demand in the UK market, which is also right-hand drive, has been a factor weighing in favour of Australia receiving a double clutch auto version sooner.
It will, according to Lyndon Healey, deliver about 50 per cent more sales for Renault Trafic and give it entree to bigger fleets which now demand autos for OH&S and policy reasons.
The plan is to use a double clutch auto from the people mover Espace and the large Talisman for the Trafic.
Having said that the highly flexible and lively 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine that is fitted to the Trafic is a strong performer and doesn’t need to be rowed through the six speed gearbox. You can lug down quite low in the revs using the torque of the diesel. However it is still not an automatic and everyone is eager for the new option to arrive.
The 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel with common-rail fuel injection pumps out a strong 340Nm of torque from just 1500 rpm along with 103Kw of power at 3500rpm underlining its ability to lug from low revs.
“We can say for certain we are getting an auto Trafic, but it’s hard to pin down an exact date,” Healey said, though confirming it’d be in the current car’s life cycle, which began in 2015 and should go to at least 2020.
The Trafic tops the Renault medium van range priced from $42,990 but there are three variants available.
The base level Crew is the $42,990 option, which is about $3500 over the plain LWB Trafic van version.
For that you still get cruise control, reversing camera, Bluetooth, dual sliding doors, USB and 12V outlets and full-opening twin rear doors with wipers on each door.
Above the standard Crew is the Premium Pack priced from $45,480, adding a seven-inch touch screen with GPS, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and a dash featuring more storage and closed bins for security.
At the top of the price list is the Lifestyle which gets climate-control air-con along with a hands-free key card and engine start and a price of $49,980.
We will have a full test in coming weeks.