Available here since 2015, the Renault Trafic has frequently been Australia’s top-selling manual mid-sized van. The recent arrival of an automated transmission should widen its scope.
Where strong demand for automatic transmissions exists, so too will opportunities for the Renault Trafic, especially for courier businesses, government authorities and rental fleets. Introducing what Renault calls the Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) transmission, if you thought it was merely a manual box with a computer and some robotic servos performing the shifts you would be sorely mistaken. A sophisticated F1 inspired pre-select dual clutch transmission with six speeds, it has been sourced from the sporty Renault Megane hatchback and the advantages of the dual clutch transmission include fuel consumption and Co2 emissions equivalent to a manual vehicle coupled with the convenience and safety of an automatic. The official fuel consumption rate is 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres. Computer controlled, the two clutches are each linked to three gears with one clutch handling the odd ratios and the other the even gears. Within the transmission the dual dry clutches permit the pre-selection of the next gear in sequence so that it is fully engaged before its clutch takes up and the other clutch associated with the previous gear is disengaged. The result is a claimed shift time of just 290 milliseconds when changing either up or changing down. This translates to a very smooth transition between each gear change and continuous torque delivery to the drive wheels.
The transmission’s electronic control unit receives input from numerous vehicle sensors and is programmed with algorithms that ensure the appropriate gear is being selected and is best suited to the current conditions. Overall, the operation remains smooth under all circumstances of load, incline and throttle position as the EDC takes advantage of the engine’s 380Nm of torque. The EDC is decisive in its selections and adapts to suit the current load and driver’s style. There is also a hill start assist function which holds the brakes on for two seconds after the brake pedal is released allowing the driver to swap their right foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal without having concern about rolling back.
The engine is new as well and is only available in combination with the EDC. The 2.0 litre turbo four cylinder diesel meets Euro 6 emission standards and produces 125kW at 3500 rpm and 380Nm of torque from as low as 1500 rpm and makes this Trafic the most powerful in class.
The 2.0 litre/EDC driveline is available in the new ‘mid-spec’ Trafic Premium in both short and long wheelbase models, as well as the long wheelbase Crew Lifestyle six seater.
The EDC versions have slightly lower payload and braked towing ratings and the long-wheelbase version can carry 1250kg and tow up to 1630kg, with the 103kW six-speed manual long-wheelbase able to carry 1,274kg and tow 2,000kg. Cubic capacities are 5.2 cubic metres for the SWB and 6.0 cubing metres on the LWB versions. A Trafic feature which adds to its flexibility for tradies who need to carry materials such as pipes or timber up to 4.5 metres in length (in the LWB models) are the flaps in the bulkhead that allow the items to be slipped through as far as the passenger side firewall. There are up to 18 tie-down points in the load area and barn doors are fitted to all except the 85kW Pro (which has a lifting tailgate). The barn doors open to 180 degrees to provide access for a forklift. A standard Australian pallet fits comfortably between the wheel arches,
Other Trafic models in the current range include the Trafic Pro in either SWB or LWB powered by a 1.6 litre engine with a single turbo developing 85kW and driving through a conventional six speed manual. In addition to the EDC/125kW package the Trafic Premium can be had with a twin turbo engine that makes 103kW with the same six speed manual transmission.
As well as the EDC, also borrowed from the Renault sedan and SUV range are the now-signature C-shaped daytime running lights. Australian Trafic’s are equipped with dusk sensing automatic LED headlamps which provide up to 50 per cent more light on high beam and 20 per cent on low beam – a definite benefit for illuminating regional roads.
The Trafic range includes front and lateral curtain airbags as standard safety equipment. Standard warranty is 3 years/100,000km and can be extended to 5 years/200,000 for an additional fee. The servicing interval is 30,000 kms or at least every 12 months.
The market is becoming more familiar with, and consequently more accepting of, the type of innovative driveline componentry that the Trafic models, fitted with the EDC transmission, offer. It seems that Renault have another winner.