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by Tim Beissmann

Updated 01/02/10 with comments from Renault Australia.

Renault has unveiled the newest version of its Master van before its European launch in April.

Renault says the Master’s assertive styling – with its tall headlights and large, imposing grille – previews the new design trend for Renault vans.

Manufactured at Renault’s SOVAB plant in Batilly, France, the range has now expanded to offer:

  • A fourth length option offering carrying capacity of up to 17m³ and a load length of up to 4.38m
  • 3.5 and 4.5 tonne versions with twin rear wheels permitting a higher payload
  • Towing capacity of up to 3 tonnes, bringing the gross train weight to 7.5 tonnes
  • Greater scope for conversions by coachbuilders

The addition of these new versions means the new Renault Master range is available in more than 350 configurations with more than 40 body options, four lengths, three height options, choice of front- or rear-wheel drive (with single or twin rear wheels) and four GVWs (2.8, 3.3, 3.5 and 4.5 tonnes).

With an average fuel economy gain over the current Master range of 1 litre/100km, the front-wheel drive versions of new Master return combined-cycle fuel consumption from 7.1 litres/100km and CO2 emissions as low as 187g/km. The fuel savings have translated to an increased range of almost 200km for some models, taking it out to 1400km on a single tank.

The new Master is powered by a 2.3-litre dCi engine including three power outputs (dCi 100, dCi 125 and dCi 150) and is identical for both the front-wheel drive (transversally mounted) and rear-wheel drive versions (longitudinal). Derived from the 2.0 dCi (M9R), the new engine is smaller than the G9U (2.5 litre dCi) but delivers more torque (up 30Nm).

Renault says servicing costs have been cut by 40 percent compared to the previous model, placing it among the best in its class.

The new Renault Master aims to become the segment’s benchmark for comfort thanks to a complete reappraisal of the driving position and controls, enhanced visibility and the availability of features normally associated with passenger cars including keyless locking, fixed cornering lights, automatic climate control, and optional Bluetooth/USB/iPod audio connectivity, reversing camera and heated seats.

Myriad storage spots come in the form of an overhead rack, dashboard compartment, A4 file shelf, mobile phone holder with charging socket, four can holders and removable ashtray, 7.6 litre chilled glovebox, door bins, under-seat stowage and various trays to name a few.

The Renault Master has been in the heavy commercial van business for more than 12 years and sold more than one million units in 45 markets worldwide.

Last year in Australia, Renault sold 122 Masters, giving it a 1.1 percent share of the 3501 to 7500kg GVM segment – down from 272 and 2.1 percent in 2008.

Renault Australia managing director, Rudi Koenig, said the new Master will arrive down under in 2011 with the introduction of rear-wheel drive versions and an increased GVM on some models up to 4.5 tonnes among the key improvements. He said it was still too early to confirm any price fluctuations.

Mr Koenig admitted 2009 was a difficult year for the Master but expects the outgoing model to reclaim some lost ground in 2010.

“The global economic situation, strong Euro for the first part of last year and the cost increases associated with the facelift/engine upgrades necessitated pricing increases which impacted our sales.

“This was especially the case with sales to large fleet operators where we could not repeat our 2008 sales volumes.

 “The strengthening Australian dollar did enable us to improve our price competitiveness later in the year but not in time to take advantage of the June market spike (with the cessation of the government investment allowance for large companies).

“Our plan for 2010 is to claw back a substantial part of the lost ground,” he said.




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