The dull hours between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are traditionally filled with trips to the hellish aisles of Ikea and the completion of odd jobs that have been waiting to be finished throughout the previous year.
Our band of testers pitched enthusiastically into these tasks and invariably our new long-term test van – the Renault Trafic Sport – was called upon to help out.
In fact there was a veritable queue of people who all suddenly had a curious yen to try out this van.
Firstly, Ikea in Nottingham was divested of around £700 worth of really heavy goods by yours truly and number one son who had just moved into a new house.
The trip from my home in Essex (around 350 miles there and back) proved that the seats in our van are comfortable in the extreme as, despite the fact that I tend to suffer from twinges on long trips owing to my advancing years, none were in evidence on that journey.
The van has a low rear step too, making it easy for me to slide the long (and incredibly heavy) flat-packed packages in and out.
There are plenty of lashing points too, so everything was still in one piece when we arrived back at my son’s house in Oakham.
Another tester needed to move a fridge freezer while yet another wanted to take a load of rubbish to the local tip, although it took him a fair time to persuade a surly character manning the gate that he wasn’t dumping trade waste.
So after a busy couple of weeks our van, which originally came to us with just 200 miles on the clock, now reads 2,500 miles and in that time we have begun both to appreciate its good points and to discover its not-so-good ones.
The van is labelled ‘Sport’ which might put fleet buyers off but in fact the engine only pumps out 115bhp – no “loony toons” acceleration here.
But those 115 horses are unleashed at such low revs that this van feels lively in the extreme and I have yet to think to myself that I need any more.
The ‘Sport’ moniker refers more to the looks of this van – more bling than zing you could say – and in that respect Renault has done a splendid job.
Our Trafic is kitted out with a nice metallic paint job, built-in foglights and alloy wheels and is bound to attract lots of bids when sold off at the end of its first fleet life.
As with all our test vehicles, the manufacturer decides which added extras to give us and in this case Renault didn’t add ply-lining to the rear end, which in the Fleet Van book of good LCV management is an absolute must.
We haven’t caused any damage in the cargo area yet but when lugging around heavy loads it’s all too easy to create a reverse “ding” from the inside out, which is virtually irrepairable and will immediately knock about £500 off the value of the vehicle.
As ply-lining costs only about £300, it’s an addition worth having.
We also didn’t get electronic stability control (ESC), which still remains on the extras list. Most of the vans we test nowadays have it and I feel rather naked without it.
On the plus side our van is fitted with rear parking sensors, which are worth their weight in gold in my opinion.
There are certainly no com-plaints about the Trafic’s drivability.
Apart from the fact that you can’t see out of the back, you may as well be driving a large MPV.
It’s the ideal size for a van that’s driven as everyday transport – big enough to swallow lots of cargo but still small enough to fit into parking spaces at the supermarket.
We are at present in the process of carrying out a detailed fuel economy test on the Trafic so we’ll be letting you know just how frugal it is in the next issue.