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Prime Mover Magazine

Master of delivery

Master of delivery

An upside to the cessation of the manufacture of Australian sedan-based utes has afforded full chassis light trucks with an opportunity to infiltrate the market. The Renault Master provides an interesting alternative.

French based manufacturer Renault is well known globally for its passenger vehicles as well as its range of vans. The cab chassis versions of the Renault Master van are gaining popularity in the courier and trades sectors with its serious truck underpinnings in combination with car-like interiors. Not every tradie wants a dual-cab Ute; and not every courier wants a forward control light truck. The Master’s offering of rear wheel drive and a spacious cab with plenty of features combined with significant load and towing capacities make it a contender for a broad market.

The Master has performed well in sales over the past five years by providing up to twice the payload and twice the load space of a traditional Ute, all the while remaining at a competitive price.

Despite its largish appearance, the 4.5 tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM) Renault Master cab/chassis can be driven on a normal passenger vehicle licence and is offered with the choice of either a six speed manual or a six speed ZF “Quickshift” automated manual transmission (AMT). The two pedal Quickshift is intuitive to drive and makes the most out of the broad torque band of the engine which results in no inappropriate shifts or no hesitation while it tries to decide which gear to select next.

The cab chassis Master uses the same 2.3 litre engines as the van derivatives except they are mounted longitudinally rather than east-west, to suit the rear wheel drive configuration of this light truck. A ‘platform’ version of the cab chassis dedicated to the camper van market retains the front wheel drive architecture of the vans.

The AMT transmission versions have a single turbo engine that delivers 110kW (150hp) and the manual gets a twin-turbo 120kW (160hp). Peak torque figures of respectively 350Nm and 360Nm are available from as low as 1,500rpm which contribute to the Master’s quite zippy performance. Manual versions have the fuel saving Stop/Start function as well as ECO Mode and Renault’s Energy Smart Management, which uses the vehicle’s kinetic energy to charge the battery while braking, thereby taking load off the engine and saving fuel.
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution also integrate into the Master’s Electronic Stability Control. Dual-cabs get an Eaton automatic diff locker as standard equipment and this is also an option for the single cabs.

The towing capacity of a braked trailer is a handy 3,000kgs and the weight saving design of the Master translates to a payload approaching 2,500kgs on the dual wheel versions. The Master is available in three-seat single cab and seven-seat dual-cab variants. Both ride on a 4,332mm wheelbase so tray body length on the dual cabs is slightly compromised yet gives body builders plenty of scope to meet customer requirements from refrigerated bodies to tradie-friendly drop side alloy trays. The locally supplied trays on the test units are well constructed with no rattles and adequate anchor points. Manual versions can be ordered in a power take-off, which extends the body options to include small tippers.

The exterior cab styling is distinctive with an aggressive looking grille and upswept light modules that follow the contours of the bonnet and guards. On the inside the standard seats have plenty of adjustment even allowing for the rear bulkhead on the single cab models. Another worthwhile option at an extra cost is the upgrade to an Isringhausen suspended seat for the driver.
The interior is spacious and functional and the dash includes plenty of handy storage compartments, and the passenger bench seat features a fold down centre seat with an integrated table that’s ideal for doing paperwork or using a lap-top. There’s more storage overhead plus an optional under seat storage bin with 90 litres of capacity ideal for keeping valuables away from prying eyes.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, a multifunction trip computer, and audio streaming Bluetooth connection, CD/MP3 radio with steering mounted controls, two USB audio inputs and a 12-volt auxiliary power outlet. Factory options include hands-free key functions and the Renault MediaNav Enhanced Navigation system that allows control of all phone, audio and navigation services through a single touchscreen interface.

Similar to many European manufacturers, Renault offers a number of optional ‘packages’ where several additional features are bundled together for the one price. An example is the climate controlled air-conditioning package that also delivers rain sensing windscreen wipers and automatic  headlights.
Distinct from the uni-body construction of the Renault van range, the Master cab chassis provides a more truck-like basis for the fitment of bodies for various purposes. The Renault Master is an interesting combination of solid mechanical componentry and advanced safety technology married to a stylish and functional interior.

Fast Fact
The Renault Master comes with three-years/200,000 km warranty plus three years roadside assistance.

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