Our second long-term update on the Renault Trafic L1H1 dCi140 sees videographer Mitchell Oke tell us his thoughts on the van as a camera crew vehicle.
When we took on the 2016 Renault Trafic as the CarAdvice camera crew van, we predicted it would be put through the hands of plenty of members of the team - and so far, it has.
The idea was to have our Sydney-based video and photography team of Mitchell Oke, Glen Sullivan, Brett Sullivan and Christian Barbeitos using the Renault Trafic for work and play. But mainly work, because at its core, it is a work-focussed vehicle.
As such, we'll be running through each member of the Sydney camera crew's thoughts on the van over the coming months. This update we'll have a look at Mitch's impressions of the van during its first two months with us.
"As a van it's very good," Mitch said after spending a couple of days behind the wheel, which included a trip to Marulan, near Goulburn, for our comparison test between the Volkswagen Golf R and Holden Commodore SS-V Redline.
"It's surprisingly nice to drive, and quite refined on the motorway," he said, which is a good point to make, as some vans can be like echo chambers on the open road. The Trafic's standard bulkhead proved to help the occupants maintain their sanity.
"The engine and gearbox feel decently matched, the clutch is light and the gear selection is smooth and precise," he said of the 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel engine and six-speed manual. Mitch admitted that he thought the small-for-the-class engine was a strong attribute, but like 95 per cent of the other drivers of the Trafic, he questioned the lack of an automatic transmission.
The drive experience was something Mitch found to be mostly impressive, particularly on the open road, with one of the best parts being the digital speedometer and cruise control. Both of these features "make sticking to the speed limit easier (especially on longer journeys)".
But he found the engine's stop/start system to be "appalling".
"On multiple occasions the car failed to restart, requiring me to depress the clutch and take it out of gear a second time," Mitch said. He wasn't alone either - in our recent comparison test, the stop-start behaviour of the Trafic was found to be a little on the annoying side.
"The Trafic's steering is nicely weighted for around-town driving, [so] it's not a chore to navigate multi-storey carparks or tight streets," he said.
But the optional racking on our loaner meant that many multi-storey carparks were a "no-go zone", and Mitch wasn't necessarily convinced of the platform on top as a work station while filming. The van moved around a little bit while walking on top of it, and if you were shifting your weight mid-shot, it could be unnerving.
In fact, Mitch made a good point about the ability to use the Renault Trafic as a camera vehicle, as the fact it can't be optioned with a set of rear seats means using it as a tracking vehicle for video shots from the camera car to the subject vehicle was near impossible.
But Mitch said he found the seats to be "decently comfortable" for long haul driving, and that the seat heaters - which are part of an option pack - were an "unexpected bonus".
Indeed, he was generally impressed with the interior on the whole, except for the shallow cup holders - both the top dash and lower flip down ones - that made it "fairly easy for taller drinks to topple out".
Oh, and while the dash-top phone holster may have been great for an iPhone 4, it doesn't accommodate larger phones like the iPhone 6s Plus. And most of our camera crew have big phones.
He was quite taken by the R-Link 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with satellite navigation, which he said "makes it feel nicer than a van to be in". That media system is also part of the optional Premium pack on our car, though the handy rear-view camera and rear parking sensors are standard on this specification.
Mitch - and all of the editorial team - found it strange that the camera doesn't link to the big screen, but instead hooks up to the rearview mirror. The display is quite small and can be washed out in bright light.
While those items help to an extent when you're reversing, the massive blind spot as you look over your shoulder can't be avoided. But Mitch said the handy wide-view mirror in the passenger-side sun visor is "simple and clever".
It is a mid-sized van, but according to Mitch the smaller Kangoo would be a better fit for what the camera crew need.
"It's far larger than necessary," Mitch said. He added that if he were to specify the vehicle for full-time purposes, he'd want to tint or cover the rear windows as it could be "a security issue when parking it for any period of time, and they barely aid in rear visibility anyway".
So, there are some strong positive points and a few issues perhaps with the actual application we've chosen to apply to the van. Clearly in Mitch's eyes we should have gotten a Kangoo Crew van, and maybe we'll consider that for the next long-termer we get for the camera guys.
Next month we'll see what Glen Sullivan has thought about his experience with the Renault Trafic. Stay tuned.
Renault Trafic L1H1 dCi140
Date acquired – January 2016
Odometer reading – 2609km
Travel since previous update – 1533km
Consumption average since previous update – 9.7L/100km
Click the Photos tab above for more images by Christian Barbeitos and Mitchell Oke.