There are as we all know a plethora of MPV’s and SUV’s for those who want a big 5 or 7 seater vehicle that will lug around those with a big family.
Indeed the SUV segment is one of the fastest growing areas of the Irish car market.
It seems buyers like the higher driving position and perceived versatility they offer though in fact most offer just 5 seats and a decent boot, something many hatchbacks and estates offer equally well.
Renault have the Scenic (5 seats) and Grand Scenic (7 seats), and now they also offer the subject of this weeks road test the Renault Traffic Business, a full 9 seater with a boot.
It is based on the Traffic van so don't expect too much in the line of luxury!
So does it have any street cred?
Honestly…..No! It really does look like a van with windows, So it will not win any design award for style. Quite simply it looks like a van!
So whats it like inside?
Climb inside and you are indeed greeted with a massive interior.
Three rows of 3 seats in each row. Three individual seats up front, three in the second row and three in the last row behind which there is a huge load area.
Standard equipment is reasonable with sat nav, bluetooth, multifunction steering wheel, air-conditioning and so forth.
It does really feel rather basic inside though with plenty of no doubt durable but hard cheap looking plastics.
The driving position is good giving a commanding view of the road ahead.
The middle row of seats fold forward easily to allow easy access to the last row of seats through either of the two big sliding side doors.
However with all that it has some serious deficiencies for a “family vehicle”.
The only concealed storage area are the two very small gloveboxes, no centre storage box, just big door pockets.
I had nowhere handy to store simple things like your house keys, or a wallet that you don’t want to leave exposed to prying eyes.
Secondly the low geared steering means small turns in say a car park require large steering inputs, so in short it feels like a van.
So whats under the bonnet?
Power comes from a perfectly adequate 1.5 litre dci Energy diesel with a 6 speed manual gearbox. Performance is adequate and it moves along quite well.
Over my test period it burned on average 6.8 litres of diesel per 100km which for all its size is pretty good. Road Tax is €390.00
So will I enjoy driving it?
To be fair it actually drives better than it looks.
The ride and handling is perfectly acceptable and it proves reasonably quiet out on the open road. Around town though finding a parking space long enough for it took some searching.
So whats the verdict?
No matter how hard I tried I could not see why a family would buy the Traffic passenger over say the Grand Scenic which is a much more desirable car and starts at €28,400 a whopping €8,000 less expensive!
I can see its appeal to Taxi firms or those wishing to operate some sort of business transport, but as family transport. No.
Why not buy a Grand Scenic its so much nicer and unless you need 9 instead of 7 seats so much better and less expensive!
For a business or as a taxi it offers masses of space in a somewhat utilitarian package.