2015 Renault Trafic Review

The all-new Renault Trafic is an exciting entrant in the van space. It offers a real point of difference to the two established big players - especially for the owner-operator type who isn't wholly buying the vehicle like an accountant.

Trafic in Australia

When you look at vans in Australia, the Toyota Hiace has been the clear segment leader for donkey's years. Flashback to 2007, the year before Hyundai dropped a gravity bomb on the segment (called the iLoad) the Toyota Hiace achieved 7672 sales, and despite Hyundai working on the segment for the next seven years, and achieving 4344 sales in 2014, Hiace still leads, with 6432 sales. iLoad might have hurt Hiace slightly - but other competitors have been the ones copping iLoad's success on the chin.

While this has been going on - a reshuffling in the minor placings, the Trafic has kicked a significant goal. The Renault Trafic sold just 207 units in 2007. In 2014 it sold 1643 units - a rise of some 800 per cent in seven years. The rise of Renault in Australia has gone largely unnoticed. Renault sold just 2909 units in 2007, but grew that to 10,014 in 2014 - with sales jumping almost 43 per cent from 2013 to 2014.

Trafic's European Adventure

One reason to consider buying the Trafic: it's Europe's top-selling van, and it has been for 16 consecutive years. Incredibly, in Europe, the Trafic is available in no less than 270 different flavours - vans, crew cabs, cab-chassis and people movers in a variety of different wheelbases, lengths, heights and volumes. Speaking of volumes, the largest Renault Trafic in Europe has an incredible interior volume of 8.6 cubic metres.

If you're looking for something a little different in Australia, but which stacks up on fundamentals, I think you've found it.

Top 5 Vans by Sales, 2014

Renault is on something of a roll. The company seems to have banished some of its demons, thanks to its hook-up with Nissan (quality control being the principal benefit to Renault there).

The new Trafic was launched in Australia early in May 2015, and the one thing you can say about it with absolute certainty is: It's different to the top competitors. It features some great innovations and - being French - it's certainly got some quirks. You look at it from several different angles and you see pretty quickly it offers something no other van can: It's almost sexy. Almost.

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Model Range

Though there are 270 different variants in Europe, there are just three in the range here in Australia - kicking off with the L1H1 dCi 90. (Catchy name: It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) Literally it's the short-wheelbase version with the baby engine. Then there's an engine upgrade to the twin-turbo version called the ENERGY dCi 140 - and that's available in the L1H1 (short-wheelbase) or L2H1 (long-wheelbase) body. Both engines are the same cubic capacity, but the twin turbo one is wound up a lot tighter.

2015 renault trafic review

Recommended Retail Pricing

  • L1H1 dCi 90 - $33,490 (single turbo 1.6)
  • L1H1 dCi 140 - $36,990 (twin turbo 1.6)
  • L2H1 dCi 140 - $38,490 (twin turbo 1.6)


dCi 90

  • 1.6-litre turbodiesel
  • 66 kW @ 3500 rpm
  • 260 Nm @ 1500 rpm
  • 6.2 L/100km
2015 renault trafic review

dCi 140

  • 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel
  • 103 kW @ 3500 rpm
  • 340 Nm @ 1500 rpm
  • 6.2 L/100km

Engine Comparison

An obvious question: is the twin turbo 1.6 wound up too tight? Certainly when you compare it with the market leading Toyota Hiace the dCi 140 engine is punching a lot harder per litre. Let's compare it with the market leaders:

  • Renault dCi 140: 64.4 kW/L
  • Toyota Hiace: 33.3 kW/L
  • Hyundai iLoad: 50 kW/L

You can see that the Renault Trafic dCi 140 is punching a lot harder than the Hyundai iLoad and the Toyota Hiace, with specific power output almost double that of the Hiace. The obvious question is: is that an example of being wound up too tight, or is it an example of the older established pair (especially the Hiace) being outdated dinosaurs in the engine department? Let's compare the dCi 140 engine a couple of other engines from different domains.

  • Renault dCi 140: 64.4 kW/L
  • Hyundai-Kia 2.2 diesel from Santa Fe and Sorento: 65.9 kW/L (maximum power 145kW)
  • Mazda 2.2 diesel from CX-5: 58.6 kW/L

Interestingly, nobody accuses either of these 2.2 diesels of being wound up too tight, or punching above their weights. The specific power output of all three is essentially very similar. All commentators worth their weekly paycheques agree both 2.2s are examples of diesel engines at their finest, and the obvious conclusion is that the Renault dCi 140 is cut from the same cloth. The other obvious conclusion is that the Hiace's diesel had its use-by date expire some time ago, and the iLoad's middle-aged children are currently having that painful discussion about which nursing home to put its diesel in. The dCi 140 engine is the future of diesel engines, and it's here now. Don't get anxious about its comparatively small capacity.

Automatic? I thought you packed the automatic...

One of the most interesting, and sad, things about the new Renault Trafic lineup is: there's no automatic gearbox. That's a decision sure to alienate something like half of all potential buyers (in Australia at least) right there. You can have any transmission you like - as long as you like a six-speed manual. In a market like Australia, this is a surefire way to limit this vehicle's sales potential.

The other salient point of difference is that the Trafic is front-wheel drive, unlike the Hyundai iLoad and Toyota Hiace. (At least you won't have to concern yourself over the apprentice setting a new burnout record when you send him off to get morning tea.)

Weights & Measures

Both variants of Trafic are bigger than the predecessor, but they are built on the same short- and long-wheelbases respectively.

  • Short-wheelbase Trafic has grown from 4.782m overall to 4.999. (an increase of 217mm) to yield a cargo volume of 5.2 cubic metres (up 0.2).
  • Long-wheelbase Trafic has grown from 5.182m overall to 5.399. (also an increase of 217mm) to yield a cargo volume of 6.0 cubic metres (up 0.1).

Payload capacity is huge: 1235kg for the short-wheelbase version and 1274kg for the long-wheelbase. To put this in perspective, a Toyota Hilux SR ute, which is widely regarded as the king of utes and will cost you $3000 more than the Trafic dCi 140, has a payload capacity of 870kg. So you can save yourself a little cash, increase your carrying capacity by a massive 50 per cent - and boost the security of whatever it is you're carrying - simply by ditching the ute in favour of the Trafic. Something for the tradies to consider.

Learn more on the ute market here >> and read how the latest Mitsubishi Triton fits into the mix >>

Standard Features

As you can see below, the Trafic is designed to be more than just a stripped out fleet van bought after some actuary has signed off on the deal after scraping every last red cent out of the vehicle. If you're an owner-operator, that's especially of interest.

The Trafic dCi 140 is the pick, obviously. It's a $3500 upgrade - so not an insubstantial sum, but the extras (including significant extra performance) are certainly worth having. Especially of interest are the inbuilt bulkhead, which will boost the effectiveness of the air-con on those hot summer days (less volume of air to chill) and which also includes a load-through facility under the passenger's seat for longer slender items.

The centre seat backrest folds down to deliver a flat surface Renault calls a desk (complete with integrated clipboard). That's great news in our market for left-handed drivers, but not all that practical for everyone else. On a more relevant note, there's a standard reversing camera in dCi 140 models, but I can't help thinking that normally safety-obsessed Renault has effectively consigned the dCi 90 owner to the rank of second-class citizen on safety (no standard reversing camera for him) and I think it's about time those lateral airbags were made standard across the range as well - because history shows us few people are willing to tick that box when safety comes at a price. (Mercedes-Benz made a big song and dance over the Vito's five-star ranking ... followed by awkward silence when it was revealed that, statistically, nobody ticked the box for the optional side airbags required to deliver the extra protection and achieve the five stars out there on the road.)

There's always a battle in-house between the sales types and the safety types. Adding the safety stuff pumps up the price. Pumping up the price drives sales down, which is why the sales types usually win.

The dual-view side mirrors are a welcome addition, as is the so-called 'wide view' mirror integrated into the passenger's vanity mirror - a nice innovation designed to minimise blind spots.

dCi 90 Standard Features

  • Height adjustable driver’s seat with armrest
  • Three-abreast seating
  • Left side loading door (unglazed)
  • Reach and rake adjustable steering wheel
  • Electric front windows
  • Electric heated door mirrors
  • Spare wheel
  • Remote central locking (three button key)
  • Separate locking for the cargo area
  • 16 anchorage points
  • ESC with HSA (Hill Start Assist)
  • Grip Xtend (advanced traction control system to cope with loose surfaces such as mud
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Bluetooth audio and telephone
  • USB connectivity

dCi 140 Additional Standard Features

Adds dCi 90 features but is positioned more (according to Renault) as a "mobile office", adding these features:

  • Front bench seat which includes a folding centre passenger seat with removable A4 clipboard
  • 54 litres of extra storage under seat
  • Dedicated laptop storage
  • Automatic headlights
  • Automatic windscreen wipers
  • Full steel bulkhead with integrated rear-view aperture
  • Load-through facility (up to 4.15m in the long wheelbase version)
  • Leather steering wheel
  • High-definition reversing camera

2015 Renault Trafic Options

Pro Pack (RRP $1290)

  • Driver and passenger lateral airbags
  • Wide-view mirror
  • Phone cradle
  • Full plywood cargo lining
  • Anti-slip timber floor

Premium Pack (RRP $1990)

  • Driver and passenger lateral airbags
  • Wide-view mirror
  • Phone cradle
  • MediaNav 7" touchscreen multimedia and navigation system
  • Arkamys sound system radio (2x20W)
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Java cloth upholstery
  • Premium dashboard with closed storage compartment, chrome-plated instrument panel rings, glossy black side air vent surrounds, chrome-plated gear knob trim, leather covered gear knob and chrome-plated speaker surround
  • Heated seats

Lifestyle pack (RRP $2490)

  • Driver and passenger lateral airbags
  • Wide-view mirror
  • Phone cradle
  • MediaNav 7" touchscreen multimedia and navigation system
  • Arkamys sound system radio (2x20W)
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Java cloth upholstery
  • Premium dashboard with closed storage compartment, chrome-plated instrument panel rings, glossy black side air vent surrounds, chrome-plated gear knob trim, leather covered gear knob and chrome-plated speaker surround
  • Heated seats
  • Automatic climate control
  • Hands-free key card
  • Body coloured front bumper
  • Body coloured rear light column
  • Body coloured door rail

Additionally on the options front, you can ditch the standard three-seat arrangement and fit a fully adjustable passenger's seat for $290. A glazed tailgate (instead of the unglazed barn doors at the rear, which are standard) is a zero-cost option. An interior roof rack is also available (390). A second (unglazed) sliding door on the driver's side is a $690 option, and adding that second door while at the same time specifying glazing for both doors will cost you a total of $1190. Glazing for the side panels in the cargo bay is $290 and heavy-duty rear suspension is $590.

Top 3 Van Comparison: Renault Trafic -Vs- Hyundai iLoad
-Vs- Toyota Hiace under $40k (rrp)

Renault Trafic L2H1 dCi 140
$38,490 rrp

2015 renault trafic review

Safety: N/A
Manufactured: France
Warranty: 3 yr/200,000 km
Service interval: 12 mths / 30,000 km
Seats: three
Drive: FWD
Engine: 1.6-litre TT diesel 4 cyl
Power: 103 kW @ 3500 rpm
Torque: 340 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel: diesel
Injection: direct
Economy: 6.2 L/100 km
Trans: 6 sp manual
Length: 5.399 m
Width: 1.956 m
Height: 1.971 m
Kerb weight: 1736 kg
Towing: 2000 kg
GVM: 3010 kg

Payload: 1274 kg
GCM: - kg
Tyres: 215/65 on 16-inch steel rims

Hyundai iLoad Van
$38,990 rrp

2015 renault trafic review

Safety: four-star
Manufactured: South Korea
Warranty: 5 yr/160,000 km
Service interval: 12 mths / 15,000 km
Seats: three
Drive: RWD
Engine: 2.5-litre diesel 4 cyl
Power: 125 kW @ 3800 rpm
Torque: 441 Nm @ 2000-2250 rpm
Fuel: diesel
Injection: direct
Economy: 8.8 L/100 km
Trans: 5 sp auto
Length: 5.125 m
Width: 1.920 m
Height: 1.935 m
Kerb weight: 2062 kg
Towing: 1500 kg
GVM: 3230 kg

Payload: 1098 kg
GCM: 4730 kg
Tyres: 215/70 on 16-inch steel rims

Toyota Hiace LWB

2015 renault trafic review

Safety: four-star
Manufactured: Japan
Warranty: 3 yr/100,000 km
Service interval: 6 mths / 10,000 km
Seats: two
Drive: RWD
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel 4 cyl
Power: 100 kW @ 3400 rpm
Torque: 300 Nm @ 1200-2400 rpm
Fuel: diesel
Injection: direct
Economy: 8.4 L/100 km
Trans: 4 sp auto
Length: 4.695 m
Width: 1.695 m
Height: 1.980 m
Kerb weight: 1835 kg
Towing: 1400 kg
GVM: 2800 kg

Payload: 965 kg
GCM: - kg
Tyres: 195 R 16 on steel rims


There's an obvious conclusion to be drawn from all of this: The Renault Trafic's success in Europe - leading the market for 16 years -  is a product of ongoing innovation and remaining relevant, as well as stacking up on fundamentals. Look at the fuel efficiency, the engine performance, the payload, towing capacity, size and service interval. When you compare the Trafic to the market leading Hiace you see what a dinosaur it is. (And I know I would rather change gear manually than sit behind Hiace's antiquated four-speed auto, or its boat-anchor engine.)

If you're running your van as a business, the new Trafic will spend something like half as long off the road being serviced as the Hiace. And if you're a big-distance driver annually, the same comment applies relative to the Hyundai. That's going to be more than enough extra time on the road, earning you money, to cover the service costs of the Trafic's annual service, which is capped at just under $400 for the first three years.

Hyundai's iLoad was a shock to the market late in 2007 - but frankly it's looking its age now. Very little has been done to the package in the past seven years. The warranty is still impressive, sure, and the service interval is almost as practical as the Renault's. But on fundamentals like payload, tow capacity and economy, the case for iLoad is not as strong as it was previously.

So if you're in the market for an impressively modern light commercial that's not equipped like a cell in a gulag, with the most rock-solid European credentials in terms of long-term commercial success, then the new Renault Trafic is certainly a van to test drive. Provided you can live with changing gears manually.