Tim Campbell's review of the Renault T reveals that the flat floor and high cab make it ideal for long-haul fleet operators.
The T Range has become a more familiar sight on UK roads over the past few years and has helped Renault Trucks capture a small, but significant, share in the competitive tractor unit sector.
However, when it was launched in 2013, the UK was missed out on some of the more interesting and exciting models.
While the UK model line-up was relatively comprehensive, one or two key models appeared to be left-hand drive only and, therefore, destined for continental Europe only.
Renault Trucks has recognised the need to address this issue and perhaps one of the more interesting models has now made its appearance on the UK spec sheet.
It comes in the form of the T High model and satisfies the needs of operators looking for a completely flat floor which has become so popular in recent years.
Let’s not forget Renaults Trucks’ proud history in this sector with the ground-breaking Magnum.
The T High features the familiar DTI13 13-litre capacity Euro VI engine, with three power outputs starting at 446PS and going up at 40.5PS increments to 527PS.
The torque figures are uniform in their increments, starting at 2,200Nm progressing to 2,400Nm and finishing at 2,550Nm with the maximum torque delivered in all cases along a flat curve from 950rpm to 1,400rpm.
The DTI13 engine features an ‘extended SCR system’ which incorporates an engine gas heating system recovering the exhaust gases with an intake valve and a seventh injector as well as the usual suspects such as diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and ammonia slip catalyst (ASC) which reduces residual ammonia from the system.
Renault Trucks is one of the few manufacturers to publish its engine weights. This one weighs just more than a tonne – 1,150kgs to be exact – complete with oils.
Dependent on the engine you choose, there are three OptiDrive automated gearboxes, the only difference between the lower and middle power gearbox is its ability to handle the increase torque input.
This isn’t the same for the high horsepower gearbox which goes from a direct drive to an overdrive for better fuel and torque input.
All the OptiDrives are 12-speed, have three reverse gears and weigh 271kgs.
The final piece in the driveline package is the rear axle and while Renault Trucks publishes two alternatives, both with a maximum design weight of 13 tonne, a single and double reduction in most cases, the single reduction will be the configuration of choice for most operators.
It handles up to 2,600Nm just inside the maximum torque of the 527PS engine at 2,550Nm.
The High Sleeper cab is available as a tractor in 4x2 operating at 19 tonne, 6x2 pusher and 6x2 tag at 26 tonne.
There’s also a rigid 4x2 and 6x2 version and the maximum combination weight goes from 40 tonnes to a maximum of 70 tonnes.
The chassis is a modular design type, meaning the thickness varies from 6.5mm to 8mm and the depth from 266mm to 300mm to suit the needs of a particular operation. If you match this to an astounding 17 different wheelbases, ensuring an optimum configuration as a rigid or tractor should not be an issue.
Chassis suspension is provided by either leaf springs or air on the front or rear, but, obviously, in a standard UK specification we are talking leaf springs at the front and air on the rear bogie.
Mainly based around your choice of tyre, the front axle will take 7.1 tonnes, 7.5 tonnes and eight tonnes. The rear bogie combination is 7.5 tonnes and 11.5 tonnes.
The DTI13 features an Optibrake+ engine retarder with braking power of 382kW at 2,300rpm and, if that’s not enough, there’s the option of a Voith VR3520 hydraulic retarder rated at 700kW.
Next are the conventional service brakes, featuring front and rear discs matched to the now standard array of electronic systems such as emergency brake assist, electronic park brake, automatic emergency braking, tilt protection and brake trailer/tractor harmonisation.
The Renault Truck T High is all about the flat floor and the tall cab, catering to the fundamental needs of a two person or long-distance operation where the time away from home for the driver has to be a key requirement.
To this end, the cab is well suited with an internal height of 2,136mm (exactly 7ft) and a very generous internal width of 2,018mm (6ft 7in) which is also the length of the two bunks.
Internally, the cab offers many of the features you would expect from a trans-continental long-haul vehicle, with a fold-up shelf and additional storage console at the rear of the cab comprising three storage compartments. There’s even the availability of three ambient lighting modes.
You definitely know it’s a flat floor when you see the four steps plus the extra step on the floor.
Once you’ve made the assault up to the ‘base camp’, the journey is well worth it.
Let’s face it, this isn’t a distribution vehicle so taking a few steps up to the cab three or four times a day is not too much of a hardship.
Inside, Renault has trimmed the cab out well with a nice mixture of red and grey giving an overall warm feeling. The instrument cluster has a large LCD screen with all the usual dials and gauges.
After starting up, the automated gearbox is simple, controlled via a right stalk off the steering wheel, engine is not too intrusive with visibility excellent ahead thanks to the large windscreen although side vision could be improved.
The centre console houses all the heating and ventilation controls as well the entertainment system and climate control.
Driving is as easy as it gets, with smooth changes up and down the gearbox and the colour coded rev counter makes its easy to get the most of the fuel economy.
It helped by the Fuel Eco+ pack Eco Cruise Control which includes soft cruise and Optiroll and restricts the revs available, has automatic engine stop on idling as well as a disengageable air compressor and Optivision (predictive cruise).
While the T Range has been around for almost five years, the inclusion of the T High Cab to the tractor unit range will be a welcome addition for many long-haul and owner-drivers alike.
Model tested: T High Comfort 520