This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 Renault Trafic Life LCV (light commercial vehicle). It’s a long wheelbase version with a dedicated passenger cabin. Renault have it, at the time of writing, at a stellar $47,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is:
A surprisingly torquey twin-turbo 1.6L diesel. At just 1500rpm there is 340Nm, and peak power isn’t bad either. At 3500rpm there is 103kW, although by then it’s run out of puff. The transmission fitted to the review vehicle is a slick six speed manual, driving the front wheels, that’s geared to take advantage of the torque early on to get it under way. There is no auto option available. Economy is rated as 6.2L/100km, and the final figure of over 420km for a quarter tank (80L capacity) consumed speaks volumes. And that’s with a dry weight of 1,736 kilos.
On The Outside It’s:
A van. Yes, it’s stating the obvious but sometimes the obvious is all there is. From front and rear perspectives its virtually cubical. From a side profile the long wheelbase (3,498mm inside an overall 5,399mm) is readily apparent, as is the elegantly profiled nose, complete with bonnet. This makes accessing the engine easier and provides a higher measure of impact protection. Front overhang is 938mm, with a rear overhang of 968mm.
The body in white highlighted the tinted windows fitted to the left and right hand side sliding doors which aren’t remotely operable. The windows themselves house slightly tricky sliding windows, and pull down sun shades. Overall cargo is rated as six cubic metres for the normal LWB, four cubic metres for the crew cab version..
The alloy wheels are 17 inches in diameter and are wrapped in commercial spec, yet very comfortable and grippy, rubber of 215/60 profile from Dunlop.
The non-powered tailgate is surprisingly easy to lift, with a balance point requiring little effort in order to raise it. There is also an embedded pullstrap to help lower the door.
Both driver and passenger door mirrors have a number of wide angle mirrors to back up the reverse camera and rear sensors.
On The Inside It’s:
Got seating for six. There’s adequate room up front for three, even with the protuberance for the gear selector. Underneath the centre and left seat are storage compartments which are accessed by lifting the squab. The driver’s storage has a tool kit. There’s no grab handle for the driver up high, instead relying on one in the door itself.
The other three seats have plenty of room all around, and behind them was a bulkhead separating the passenger section from the load bay. There was just enough body flex to have the bulkhead mounts squeaking quite a bit.Although clearly a commercial vehicle, Renault’s ergonomics cant be faulted, for the most part. The gear selector housing has some impact on the centre seat passenger, but that’s unavoidable as it’s also ideally placed to fall naturally to hand for shifting.
The starter button is quite visible, so there’s no hunting around. Switchgear is just where the body feels it needs to be, and the left mounted indicator (with auto headlights) is a fingertip away. The floor is easy to clean rubber, with driver and front passengers stepping up easily.A handy touch or two are the inbuilt mobile phone holder and upper dash storage locker. The phone holder is engineered to twist and to extend in height with the push of a button.The seven inch touchscreen is easy to operate and read, and there is the pleasant addition of digital radio. However, much like the Megane recently reviewed, the tuner sensitivity isn’t on par with that from other manufacturers. Having said that, overall sound quality from the door mounted speakers, partnered with a pair mounted above and behind the driver and left front passenger, delighted in their depth and clarity.
The driver’s dash display is basic but user friendly, and there is a visible prompt to up or downshift when the computer matches speed to engine revs.
On The Road It’s:
More car like in ride and handling than it had the right to be. The front wheels are ahead of the front seats but felt as if they were directly under them. With such a long body and wheelbase there was an expectation of dragging tne rear wheels on curbs in corners. It simply didnt happen. Somehow, the knowledge of where each corner was became almost intuitive vey quickly. Not once did the length of the Trafic Life pose an issue.
Driven in the environment it was, a predominantly urban drive, and with one to four aboard, plus a week’s load of shopping, the 1.6L engine never seemed as if it would struggle in this specific kind of usage. If used in a purely commercial way, that would probably be a different story.But that’s where the low gearing for first and second worked so well. Below 1300 or 1400 revs, the Trafic Life had little. Life, that is. But once the turbo spooled up there was a rapid change in the nature of it, and the 340 torques introduced themselves with a flourish.
Further up the gears and in both town and highway driving, the Trafic Life was rarely found wanting. The engine management system has an anti-stall feature, and once or twice at traffic lights this kicked in, enabling the get-away otherwise wanted.
It’s a superb highway cruiser, and around the urban drive cycle, fourth or fifth was all that was required. Braking, too, was wonderful, with an easy to judge feel, and plenty of speed reduction quickly.Actual ride quality was enjoyable, with a firm, but not unpleasantly so suspension setup. Matched with a quick steering rack and driven hard through the tight and twisting turns on one particular Blue Mountains thoroughfare, the Trafic Life demonstrated just how well thought out and engineered the underpinnings are.
What About Safety And Warranty?
Front and side airbags, daytime running lights, Hill Start Assist, and the mandated traction aids are standard. Renault doesn’t list AEB or distance sensing cruise control. Warranty is listed as 3 years, unlimited kilometres, with annual or 30,000 kilometre service intervals.
At The End Of The Drive.
AWT handed back the 2019 Renault Trafic Life with regret. It’s a better than expected family vehicle, economic to drive, comfortable whilst doing so, and has an easy to maintain interior. In colours other than the plain white our review vehicle came in, it’d also be a reasonably handsome looker on road. And at under $50k driveaway its a screaming bargain as a people mover.
For more details on the Renault Trafic range, here is where you can find them.