Renault overhauled its light commercial vehicle range in one fell swoop this week, revealing updated versions of the Trafic and Master, plus a concept 2020 Kangoo EV.
Given the Trafic is its top-seller in Australia, we’ll start here. The big news is the addition of new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines in place of the current 1.6 single- and twin-turbo options, tuned to meet harsh Euro6d-TEMP CO2 emissions caps.
The press details aren’t super specific but Renault does claim power options depending on what you pay are 89kW, 108kW and 126kW (up from 66kW, 85kW and 103kW options at present) while peak torque on the top state of tune is 380Nm. Fuel economy is up to 0.6L/100km better too, apparently.
Importantly, the long-promised automatic transmission option is now available alongside the manual ‘box. It’s a six-speed EDC dual-clutch unit, similar to the Volkswagen Transporter’s DSG. Given the majority of Australians now buy auto vans, it’ll be a vital addition.
Renault has also fitted new LED headlights, a C-shaped lighting signature like its passenger range, and a bolder grille. Plus a new trailer-sway assist function built into the ESC, standard sensors and rear camera, and wide-view rear-view mirror.
The load space array remains 3.2 to 8.6 cubic-metres, there’s new 500 lumen LED lighting in the cargo area, a new locking mechanism, and a polypropylene wall lining option. There’s also an updated dash design, “better quality” upholstery, and new infotainment including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The bigger Master van, bus and cab-chassis range gets revised Euro6 2.3-litre diesel engines with one or two turbos depending on spec, up to 135kW of power and 400Nm of torque, mated to six-speed manual or robotised 'auto' gearboxes. Fuel economy is said to be up to 1.0L/100km better than before.
There's a brand new horizontal dash design with different wheel, screen, wireless charger and shifter, up to 105L of cabin storage areas, and more safety tech such as crosswind ESC assist, blind-spot monitoring and AEB. There's also new LED lighting in the cargo area and a completely different frontal design with the LED headlights and bolder grille.
European 'last-milers' also get a new Master Z.E (zero emissions) electric van available in six body sizes/shapes. Given it's stated urban focus, it's running a small-but-cheap 33kWh battery and 57kW motor. It's limited to 100km/h top speed, has a 120km real-world range, and a 32A/7.2kW wallbox charges it in six hours. Clearly one for city use then.
The final piece of the van puzzle is the Renault Kangoo Z.E concept show car, which "foreshadows" the next-generation Kangoo EV.
The market for small electric vans is growing exponentially at the moment, given most drivers do urban miles only. It signals a more macho and mature design language for the next model.
On a broader scale, Renault's LCV range had record sales in 2018 with 34% annual growth. Between 2017 and 2022 it plans to double its worldwide market coverage, dominate the EV van market, and alongside its Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance partners, sell 2.5 million LCVs annually - more than any other group.
In 2018 it sold 152,853 Kangoo, 118,176 Master and 97,422 Trafic units worldwide last year. Broadening this, it's launching seven joint-venture LCVs in China by 2022, including three electric models.
There's also an updated Renault Alaskan ute (Navara spinoff) with new rear suspension and more tech out there but we'll write a separate story on that.
In Australia the Trafic regularly sits third in segment (fighting the VW Transporter and Ford Transit Custom), while the Master and Kangoo are usually second in segment behind, respectively, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and VW Caddy.
Renault's local arm has not yet responded to our phone call requesting the timing for when the updated LCV range will arrive locally. We will keep you posted!