There have been so many new vans launched this year that it is easy to forget that some of the evergreen fleet models have also been revised.
One of these is the Renault Master, which now boasts sharper front-end looks and a series of upgrades that see it continue to be competitive against newer models.
Like the new Ford Transit, the Master is available with either front- or rear-wheel drive in gross vehicle weights ranging from 2,800kg to 4,500kg. Our test model is the 3.5-tonne variant in long wheelbase medium high roof format. Prices start at £21,120 but our test model weighs in at £28,900 as it features a number of added extras.
I always thought the Master was one of the best-looking heavyweights and a few careful alterations have made it even more chic – I particularly like the huge Renault diamond and the silver grille.
It now has two trim levels, Business and Business +. Our test model was the lower spec which will be more popular with fleets.
The cab is high, giving a commanding view of the road, and as the driver’s seat was already among the best in class, there was no need to change it.
There is plenty of lumbar support and while many manufacturers are now trying to make their vans feel more like cars, the upright position of the seat means the Master retains a truck-like feel.
I undertook a six-hour journey and arrived at the other end with no back twinges whatsoever.
Even in lower spec format, the Master gets a good level of standard equipment. Electronic stability control (ESC) is standard, along with ABS, Grip Xtend, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Swing Assist. The cab also sees a DAB radio with Bluetooth and a USB port.
Among the options on our van were reversing sensors at £200 and manual air-conditioning at £800. Enterprise versions of the rival Citroën Relay get it as standard. Both come as standard features on Business + models, however.
In the cargo area, our van had ply-lining, which added £400 to the price but is essential to keep the rear-end clean for maximum residual value at selling time. This item includes a non-slip wipe-clean floor.
The front-wheel drive models have a lower loading height than the rear-wheel drive variants, which is worth noting for drivers who have to load and unload many times during the course of the day. The van takes 13 cubic metres of cargo, which can be strapped down with a 10 load lashing eyes dotted around the cargo area.
The Master is smooth and quiet underway and handles with pin-sharp efficiency on the corners. The engine in our test model is new to the range – the 2.3-litre twin-turbo 165hp which, while offering a lot of power, will not be adopted by many fleets. Three other options are on the cards: 110hp, 125hp and 135hp.
Even with 165hp, the Master has an official combined fuel economy figure of just over 40mpg – 7.3mpg more than the engine it replaces.