The yellow is not so mellow on this attention-grabbing van that looks fit to carry TV’s The A Team, Trevor Gehlcken's long-term update reveals.
Not since the day when an 8.5-litre V10 Dodge Ram turned up at our offices back in 2007 has a test vehicle caused such a stir.
As can be seen here, our latest long-termer, the Renault Trafic Formula Edition, looks more like transport for The A Team than for your average delivery driver.
When pitching up at the car park, I have been the subject of various jealous looks from the staff of other magazines that share our headquarters. Meanwhile at home, many of my neighbours have stopped to admire and comment on this little bobby dazzler – and I caught one guy actually taking a photograph of it.
The other day an Amazon delivery driver brought a parcel and asked if the van was a one-off, customised model. When I informed him he could actually buy one like it from the local Renault dealer, he seemed staggered (and envious).
The price is, as one might expect, high. You can get a standard Trafic for a tad in excess of £20,000 (ex-VAT) but once all the bling and technology is added – and in long wheelbase format – our test van comes in at £32,210 (ex-VAT).
Yes, we know most fleets won’t choose this model, but at least it gives us the chance to play with all the accessories available and give our judgement on their merits (or otherwise) for fleet buyers.
If we listed all the goodies on this van, it would take up a lot of space so we’ll just mention a few of the stand-out ones for the time being. We have another four months to talk about the others.
Outside, this van screams “look at me!” with gaudy yellow stripes down the sides, yellow foglight surrounds, a sparkly black paint job and black alloy wheels.
In the cab, we get special sporty seats with lumbar adjustment, a leather steering wheel, a fold-down little desk in the middle seat back, a ‘Luxe’ pack which adds all kinds of bling and silvery bits to the cab and even a cradle for the mobile phone.
On the safety front, there are all the usual bits and pieces which are now a legal requirement, plus reversing sensors, a reversing camera and cruise control.
That said, Renault doesn’t offer the city automatic crash protection system that slams on the anchors in the event of a likely crash which is now standard on the rival Volkswagen Transporter.
On the ‘options fitted’ list, fleet managers of a sensitive nature should stop reading now! We have climate control at £1,200 (are they kidding?), ply-lining at £630 (essential), passenger and curtain airbags at £660, rear parking camera at £250 (well worth it), and Renault’s R-Link Multi-Media system at £775.
Under the bonnet goes a rather diminutive 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine which pumps out a nonetheless meaty 145PS, plenty of power to move this van along nicely yet not too ‘loony tunes’ for fleets.
The official combined fuel economy figure is a pleasing 46.3mpg.
Given much of my driving is on motorways, it will be interesting to see whether we can get anywhere near the official figure.
Our test figure of 39.8mpg is a little askew as the engine is new and has yet to loosen up so we’ll be keeping you updated on fuel economy as the months pass.
May 2018 - first test
Our long term "far from ordinary" Renault Trafic is weighted down with bling and accessories that most fleet drivers can only dream about. By Trevor Gehlcken
It seems like only yesterday but it was, in fact, 17 years ago that I joined a party of UK van journalists flying to Copenhagen to drive the new Renault Trafic for the first time.
There was a buzz among us that this van was going to be a bit special and, indeed, we weren’t disappointed.
First glimpse of the new vehicle showed it to be so different as almost to be described as space age, with a curious bump in the roof and dashing lines that made it look different from any other van on the road.
Getting behind the wheel for the first time, we soon discovered that beauty was more than skin deep – this was the first panel van to actually drive like a big car.
In a nutshell, I came back to the offices of our predecessor title Fleet Van raving about the new vehicle. And over the ensuing 17 years, my respect for it – far from waning over time – has grown.
At launch, there was just one wheelbase and one engine – a 1.9-litre unit – available.
Since, there have been long wheelbase and high roof variants introduced, along with one major relaunch and any number of nips and tucks, keeping the Trafic right up with the leaders in the field.
It has also become one of the most ubiquitous commercial vehicles on the roads today, as it is rebadged as the Vauxhall Vivaro, Nissan NV300 and more recently the Fiat Talento
Despite this, the van is, at heart, a Renault and when the press office at the French manufacturer called to ask if we’d like a Trafic on long-term test for six months, we didn’t hesitate to accept the offer.
Whether you choose a Renault, Vauxhall, Nissan or Fiat is a matter of individual choice.
While the Vauxhall is built at Luton using many UK-sourced parts, the others mainly hail from France.
Renault, meanwhile, offers a network of Pro+ centres for fleet buyers, which may well sway the buying decision in its favour, with extended opening hours, 24-hour repair booking and specialist advisers on tap.
Of course, now that the PSA Group has bought Vauxhall and has committed to building a brand new Vivaro at the plant from next year, our guess is that this new model will be a replica of the present Citroën Dispatch/Peugeot Expert, although no official news has emerged yet.
What a tangled web the van manufacturing industry is at present!
When we are offered vehicles to test from the various manufacturers, we never quite know what actual model is going to turn up.
In this case, we were expecting the usual run-of-the-mill fleet-type Trafic and were stunned when this little humdinger pitched up.
A glance at the pictures shows this Trafic is about as far from ordinary as is possible to get – weighted down with bling and accessories that most fleet drivers can only dream about.
But, at least, it will give us a chance to put all those extras to the test and recommend to our readers which ought to be specified at fleet buying time and which can safely be left out.
Suffice to say I’m relishing the thought of using this van for the next six months – and there is likely to be a queue of car testers from sister title Fleet News wanting to try it out, too, something that rarely happens when we get commercial vehicles on trial.
Model tested: Renault Trafic ll29 dci 145 formula edition