We drove the Renault Master Energy dCi Twin Turbo 170 HP: king of the road…

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There are times when it is indicated to discover the immense progress which is made in the field of light commercial vehicles. This time we made a trip to the French midi at the wheel of a – what’s in a name – masterful product of the Renault stable. The experience proved to be nothing less than truly exquisite. Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the high roof version of the Master, with a very impressive 170 HP version of the well known and trusted 2298 cc four cylinder Diesel unit. It is coupled to a six speed manual gearbox, and it is truly astonishing how smooth and docile this engine is. Indeed, despite its very impressive power and torque, this engine is utterly docile and flexible, and very pleasant indeed in everyday use.

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Any vibrations are completely filtered out, and also the entire driveline is smooth. The Master will crawl without any effort in dense traffic, and bottom gear is low enough to make stop and go progress a completely effortless exercise, even under full load. The clutch is also quite progressive. When traffic speeds up, the Master remains certainly on top of things.

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With its torque of not less than 380 Nm at merely 1500 rpm, accelerations are quite brisk, helped also by the ideal gearing of the box, which has very slick and fast changes. Even under full load, there is simply no situation where the Master will not perform, and indeed, it can be quite fast.

Quite frugal, when you let it…

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Consumption will of course be very much in function of payload and the performance delivered, and when driven with spirit, an average consumption around 9,5 liter/100 km is what you can expect for the high roof version. With a little common sense, considering that air resistance rises exponentially once you go beyond say 105 km/h, this Master will treat you with astonishing economy. With the cruise contol set at 106 km/h, you stay around 8,3 liters, full load or not.

Masterful comfort

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Cruising at the abovementioned “frugal” speeds, just sit back and relax in the excellent seats, enjoy the very good comfort of the suspension, with only a whisper heard of the engine, purring along around 2000 rpm, and listen on the CD player to the mellow sound of Diana Krall, Stacey Kent, Chet Baker or for instance Endor Lilo Rantala, with “one more waltz for Michel Petrucciani.”

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Long distance driving is a feast in this Master. A central infotainment screen is above you, where you would normally expect the rearview mirror, which is of course without function in a closed van, and it will treat you to all the amenities like an excellent radio, navigation, eco driving coaching, etc.

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Lots of place in the cabin to stow your drinking bottles, cups, documents, scarfs, hats, I phone and of course on top of it all you enjoy a central armrest. The front cabin is three seats wide and leaves you thus plenty of space. Our Master had also digital airco, just to make life even nicer. Of course there are Aux and USB connections, and even Bluetooth.

Stable and safe handling

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The Master steers rock solid, has excellent straight line stability and will not be easily be thrown off course on winding roads. With its 170 hp, it will even offer almost sporting pleasure, if you let it. Of course, never forget the dimensions of your van, and the laws of physics.

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The commands for phone, media and radio are uniquely practical, and offer great pleasure in everyday use… 

Driving with restraint at legal speeds will let you discover that driving for hundreds of kilometers on secondary roads is a completely effortless experience.

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Manoeuvring is of course greatly helped by audible parking warning signals, the large sideview mirrors with their split screens eliminate dead angles on the sides of the van.

Conclusion

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It is truly astonishing what level of performance and creature comfort is offered by vans like this Renault Master. They are excellent tools for the professional, and are indeed a pleasure to use everyday. They are frugal, sturdy, built for years and years of service. We were truly impressed, as it had excellent Gran Turismo qualities too… Besides its massive payload!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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