Apart from the odd one-off, performance vans have yet to make it to the mainstream, but manufacturers are still keen to make the most of their links with motorsport.
In Renault’s case, this has given rise to the Formula Edition, which is oddly not a limited-edition van, but is a version that can be found in the printed brochure and sits alongside the more sensible Business, Business+ and Sport Nav models.
As you might expect, it pays tribute to Renault’s Formula One efforts of late and it incorporates the team’s colours in a variety of decals, on the grille, foglights and down the sides of the van. It stops short of being dominating, but the contrast with the black paint and alloy wheels means that it manages to add a stand out splash of colour. The stickers work well, the alloy-wheel centres likewise, but the foglight surrounds won’t be to everyone’s taste.
The equipment inside takes the mid-range Business+ model and adds a selection of visual upgrades, which means you get elements such as satin details around the infotainment system, gloss black touches on the air vents, chrome interior door handles, a closed storage compartment and upgraded materials in the cabin that lend a feeling of quality.
The extra kit is one mitigating factor when you look at the Trafic’s payload. At 1077kg it is not the best in the sector – some medium vans will take almost 50% more – but the loading bay does get a handy boost of practicality with a load-through hatch that extends the load length to 2950mm.
Unsurprisingly, the Formula Edition isn’t available on the most basic engine, but you can get every other version and both long- and short-wheelbase models. This short-wheelbase 1.6-litre unit has just 145hp, which is less than rivals from Ford and VW can offer, but it never feels under-powered.
It has a really impressive acceleration, and sits very calmly at motorway speeds. Despite this, it is impressively fuel efficient – the 46.3mpg is very good.
The Trafic’s handling is probably its best asset, though. The suspension is excellently controlled, which means body roll is kept to a minimum, and it is very composed over low-speed bumps in town.
The styling might not be for everyone, but for those that want an eye-catching van without going to the expense of a bespoke wrap, this is a great option. Don’t forget there are more practical alternatives available, though.