They say time flies when you’re having fun – and that’s certainly true where our latest long-term test vehicle is concerned.
We can hardly believe it’s almost a year since the Renault Trafic Sport arrived at Fleet Van.
During that time it has almost become a family member and impressed everyone with its car-like manners and sheer practicality.
If this were a brand new model, we’d quite understand all the praise that’s been heaped upon it.
But we are talking about a van that launched back in 2001 and is to be replaced with a brand new model next year.
Has there ever been a commercial vehicle launched that was so far ahead of its time? We doubt it.
The Trafic also masquerades as the Vauxhall Vivaro and the Nissan Primastar, so you can hardly drive
down a street in the UK that doesn’t contain at least one of these derivatives.
But under the skin, this is a product dreamt up and designed by Renault and its Gallic charms look as fresh today as they did in its infancy all those years ago.
Our model isn’t exactly the most fleet-like in the range – but anyone who scoffs at items such as metallic paint and alloy wheels, which this van has as standard, are ignoring those all-important wholelife costs.
For when you come to sell this van, not only will its shiny exterior attract more bids (assuming you have actually kept it in good condition, of course) but, according to the price guides, the Sport model will have a £600 premium over its more mundane brother.
This van is the ideal size for anyone who drives a commercial vehicle day in, day out. It’s small enough to winkle in and out of city streets and park easily on an average driveway, yet big enough to hold most items that you may need to lug around.
With the exception of the new Ford Transit Custom that went on sale this year, the Trafic and its twin brothers are just about the most car-like vans you can drive.
Sitting in the very comfortable driver’s seat, you may as well be behind the wheel of a large MPV.
The Trafic has admirable cornering abilities and gears snick in and out of place in a most satisfactory fashion.
I’ve undertaken many long trips in this van over the course of our test and have not once experienced any back twinges.
And as the vehicle comes with air-con as standard, I was also kept cool, calm and collected during our hot summer days.
As for reliability, this van hasn’t missed a beat in its time here. In fact, we have yet to add any oil to the engine or any air to the tyres – amazing.
Mention must also be made of the built-in TomTom sat-nav system, which on several occasions has helped me out in unfamiliar cities.
In my view, the TomTom units are far superior to many other offerings on the market, giving much clearer instructions and a better map view.
Sadly, it isn’t a touchscreen variety so to programme it, you have to scroll around a QWERTY keyboard with a remote sensor unit, which isn’t all that easy.
The only other minus point is that the Trafic doesn’t come with electronic stability control (ESC), which helps stop sideways skids, as standard.
It will be a legal requirement on all vans from September 2014, so we are expecting this oversight to be rectified when the all-new Trafic appears next year.