First Drive: Renault Master Double Cab Dropside

Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Renault’s new range of Master conversions is now available to order in the UK. With the addition of rear-wheel drive models to the line-up the brand is now confident of making a far more significant impression in a market sector where, in the past, it has perhaps punched below its weight.

Renault’s UK commercial vehicle boss Darren Payne is confident the introduction of RWD will give the brand a boost, particularly in the construction market.
“We can get more into sectors of the market with RWD,” he tells What Van? Our aim is to double our share of the conversions market to 8%.”
Payne also says that Renault has now appointed 20 approved convertors in the UK.
What Van? got an early opportunity to try out a RWD double cab dropside before the full range of Master conversions was given a high-profile airing at the Commercial Vehicle Show last month.
The model is adequately powered by a 2.3-litre 145hp Euro5 diesel unit. With a load on board the ride is well-grounded and the handling consistent and sure-footed. We did not have the opportunity to drive the dropside unladen but a passenger-free Master minibus was bumpy by comparison. The driving position, meanwhile, is upright and supportive and the dash-mounted manual gear lever is comfortably positioned and operates crisply. The handbrake is also well-placed behind the six-speed transmission and between the driver and passenger seats.
Overall, the controls on the dashboard are laid out with a pleasing simplicity, and once 50mph is reached the van cruises along comfortably in top gear.
The most striking aspect of the cabin is the multitude of storage spaces, which include two bins in the doors, one with ample space for a large bottle of water. There are a pair of cup holders centrally placed within easy reach, a cooled glovebox, a space for a clipboard and numerous other pockets and overhead compartments. If you are of a forgetful nature you would be well-advised to avoid squirreling away too many perishable goods.
The interior is soberly fitted out in dark grey and black plastics, which blend in with the seat fabric. A handy feature is a swivelling tabletop mounted on the back of the centre seat, which twists round to face the driver. It includes an adjustable tray designed to support a laptop computer, has two cupholders built in and has stowage space for stationary.
With a basic price of £27,195 excluding VAT, the van we drove wasn’t packed with all the options available but a notable standard feature is Carminat TomTom satnav. It is sited close to the rear-view mirror to make it easy to view while driving. However, it is disappointing that rear parking sensors are not included either as standard or as an option. Renault says fleet customers wanting sensors would most likely use an aftermarket solution, which would be fitted to the lower metal bar next to the registration plate.
A Driving Pack is available for £750, which includes air conditioning with pollen filter, driver’s-side electric one-touch windows and cruise control.
Other options from a fairly lengthy list include a front passenger airbag for £220, tow bar for £275 and engine speed limiter for £60.
Three years AA roadside assistance is included.

 

Verdict
The addition of rear-wheel models means Renault can now offer this comfortable, practical and sturdy dropside



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