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2015 Renault Master SWB Speed Date Review
James Ward
Quick Specs
2.2-litre turbo diesel
3-year / 200,000km
Read the full review

So, where did you go on your date?

We've all heard the expression to 'make hay while the sun shines' - and so, assuming that happens... how do you pick up the hay once it is made?

Why, in a van of course!

My daughter's sixth birthday party coincided with the Renault Master SWB van, and some hay was needed (along with tables and chairs) to help the 'pony party' theme.

Ideal first date?

Vans are rarely chosen for their looks or as a lifestyle statement - its all about serious business.

The SWB Master is a full-size van on a shorter chassis - and while that might seem like a bit of a silly combination, it works perfectly if you have tall or wide items, and still need to negotiate city streets and parking.

So line up if you are the inner-urban Man-with-a-Van or need to move a drum kit or two...

Hot or not?

The new look Master is a pretty cool looking number. The large grille and headlamp array at the front are very 'purposeful' and the are some neat style elements - like the taller RHS rear window and triangular brake light that fits in the gap.

Plus - in line with the revised Renault Trafic, and a bit of an acknowledgement to more small businesses using vans for day-to-day life - the Master is available in ten colours! Gone are the days of white, white or white.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Sitting up high with the short nose, gives a very commanding driving position. The Master is comfy and mostly ergonomic - once you get used to it (try to find the Hazard light switch in under 5 seconds...)

There is lots for the three-abreast seating, and I was a big fan of the center-seat conversion into a desk - complete with lazy-susan style extension piece. Well thought out for what will probably be a mobile office for many owners.

Standout features?

When it comes to a van, the key thing is practicality, and the Master won me over.

There's a lot of storage in the cab - on the dash, in the dash, above the windscreen and in the doors - but the cargo bay with a sliding left door (a right hand one is optional) and barn-doors at the rear - with an overall space of 8,000-litres (with a 2.5-meter load length) is a very usable space without being too big.

Annoying habits?

The French ergonomics are always a bit frustrating, but you do get used to them - most of the time.

But, to be honest, for vanning about town the Master was a very easy machine to just lob into and get the job done.

Ready for a family?

It's a van. No.

To be fair - there are three seats up front, but if your family is anything like mine - you spend too much time together anyway, that sitting three-up in a van is just not necessary for a happy life.

High maintenance?

There's a three-year warranty, with capped-price servicing and roadside assist for the duration.

Plus - despite the list price of $41,990 - Renault are currently offering the SWB Master van for $39,990 drive-away.

Any deal-breakers?

Given the SWB Master's somewhat stumpy nature, unless you need the extra height and width - the revised medium Trafic van might be a better bet for urban 'vanning'. Or - go all out and get a LWB Master.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

My (not so secret) love of vans aside, the Master is a great vehicle that fits in the Goldilocks market of being either too big or too small.

The times I have needed the height of the Master to move things though is countable on one hand - so a medium van is much more my speed. Coupled with better on road manners and running costs, I'd opt for the Renault Trafic or Ford Transit every time.

Keeping your options open?

For big van buyers, there is the benchmark Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but also the Ford Transit Heavy and Volkswagen Crafter - to fill that big-van gap in your life. Stay tuned as we'll be putting all these big guys together shortly...

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

Upright piano movers and anyone with large wardrobes...