Steve Banner discovers the Trafic’s ingenious Wide View Mirror can help the nation’s future great minds stay on their bikes and finds a safe spot for his laptop
Too many cyclists seem to be completely ignorant of the risks associated with inching their way down the nearside of a panel van in heavy traffic. They seem unaware that they are edging their way into the driver's blind spot; and risking life and limb in the process.
Fortunately for them our long-term-test Renault Trafic SL27 ENERGY dCi 120 Business + comes with a blind spot mirror in the passenger sun visor. Winner of the What Van? Innovation Award for 2015, it gives the driver invaluable additional wide-angle nearside vision which makes it less likely that pedal-pushers will get squashed.
It was a facility that proved invaluable in Cambridge city centre where cyclists come at you from all angles and probably saved the neck of at least one day-dreaming student.
Something else that proved invaluable as we criss-crossed the country was the huge hidden storage area beneath the dual passenger seat. Pull the cushions up, deposit your laptop bag, push the cushions back into place, and nobody knows it is there.
It takes a matter of seconds and makes a lot more sense than leaving easily-stolen items strewn all round the cab while you pop off for a cuppa.
Now we've clocked up a few miles the 120hp twin-turbo 1.6-litre dCi diesel is starting to loosen up a little and is becoming an even livelier performer than it was when we first took delivery. Floor the accelerator pedal and you hurtle past slower-moving traffic with the user-friendly six-speed gearbox helping you get the most out of what is on offer.
With all that performance we're starting to wonder whether there is any real need for Renault to offer the 140hp version of the same engine in this version of Trafic. Even if you stack the 5.2cu/m of load space to the roof with cargo and make full use of the 1056kg gross payload, the 120hp variant should be well on top of the job; and there is little point in paying several hundred pounds more for performance you don't really need.