As with other van manufacturer’s, Renault has given it’s large Master van a makeover to coincide with the introduction of new emissions-compliant diesel engines. And at the same time, they’ve added new connectivity & safety features to make the Master more competitive.
Whilst the physical dimensions of the new Master are identical to the previous version, the most noticeable exterior change is up front, with a completely new front end & grille, with C shaped LED lights & the large Renault diamond logo dominating. The load area also remains unchanged.
Inside, everything in the cabin is better & a lot more tactile than the last Master. The dashboard is neat & tidy & it’s functional to use, with the touchscreen infotainment system now logically located in the centre of the dash. There’s also the option of a rear assist camera so you can see what’s immediately behind you. Renault have also fitted harder wearing fabric on the seats
Van-man storage in the cab is excellent. There are three areas on top of the dashboard, with deep door bins & two smaller door bins higher up on both doors, which are perfect for odds & sods. There’s also an above head storage shelf that goes the width of the cab. Our model featured a single easing seat, whilst models with a twin passenger seat, offer under seat storage as well.
The latest 2.3 dCi diesel engine fitted to the range, is cleaner than before, with new emissions systems including selective catalytic reduction (SCR). This means that the latest Master now has an AdBlue tank that will need refilling. It’s also offered in a choice of five diesel dCi diesel engines; 130, 135, 145, 150 & 180bhp. The largest engine come’s with torque of 400NM’s. Fuel economy is also a claimed 15% better on some versions than before.
Master comes with three body lengths & three body heights, with both FWD & RWD versions offered,. There’s also crew cab, platform cab, tipper, Luton versions available & a myriad of other conversion options available, plus the option of the all-electric Master ZE.
All Master panel van’s come with a full-height steel bulkhead to protect cab occupants & keep the cab quiet & in Winter, warmer. An unglazed nearside sliding side load door is also standard equipment. The unglazed rear doors open to 180 degrees. A 2019 update for £100, is the addition of LED lighting for the load area, plus there are new grab handles to make getting in & out of the load area easier.
Business trim models are aimed at a broad spectrum of customers who want the basics, with the option to add on extras such as cruise control or blind-spot monitoring. All models offer remote locking, an alarm & immobiliser & electric heated door mirrors. Business+, the version we tested, adds a wide view mirror on the inside of the passenger sun visor, rear parking sensors & electric windows. Our test van was also fitted with several extras, including blind spot monitoring £250, cruise control with speed limiter £250, the LED loadspace lighting £100 & the permanent rear view camera for £800.
The rear view camera look’s good when the van’s stationary, but it’s not anywhere near as clear, when you’re on the move & driving in Winter weather
Safety, wise, the Master now offers electronic stability control (ESC) as standard, with Grip Xtend, Hill Start Assist & Trailer Swing Assist. Our Business + also included ABSm with EBD & a drivers airbag.
As far as access goes, the sliding side door is 1,050mm wide on short-wheelbase models & a larger 1,270mm on larger models, which is big enough for a Euro pallet. Single rear-wheel models will also take a Euro palette as there is 1,380mm between the wheel arches. Twin rear-wheel models can carry the greatest load, but the additional wheels, narrows the gap between the wheel arches to 1,080mm, so a Euro pallet will only fit through end on.
Like it’s competitor’s, Renault also offers a range of Ready4Work racking & storage solutions for the Master. You can chose from a Basic system or a Specialist system, which offers additional tool storage with telescopic drawer modules & additional shelving. One you’ve chosen your’s, the systems can be included in the cost of the van & are installed by the supplying dealer.
We were testing the LM35 Energy dCi 150 Business+ model. The 148bhp engine in our van, is actually pretty good, especially on the motorway. This version comes with C02 emissions of 159g/km & a combined mpg on the NEDC test of 47.1mpg. Maximum speed is 97mph & it takes 12.1 seconds to reach 62mph.
We had the van for a week & undertook a one-day, 400 mile round trip to Guildford & back, almost all of this on motorway. We came back with 50 miles of fuel left. Bear in mind we drove the van unladen, with just the driver on board & we averaged 34.4mpg.
Once on board, thecabin warms up quickly, but it doesn’t do a great job of keeping road noise out. I connected my iPhone via the USB & was able to listen to podcasts all the way there & back, with the two 20W speakers helping keep the volume clear. The infotainement screen is easy to use, but it’s a little small in such a large van, whilst the on-board SatNav graphics are also basic.
Motorway cruising was excellent in the Master. We selected cruise control at Junction 19 of the M6 & barely needed to come out of it until we reached the M25/A3 junction at Wisley. Adjusting your speed up or down is easily done using the steering wheel control buttons. Unladen, the Master bounces a bit , especially noticeable going over Spaghetti Junctions road joins.
The steering is a bit light & unresponsive when driving in town, making it difficult to point your van in the right direction at slow speeds. The six-speed gear box though, is surprisingly light & easy to work.
The Master comes with a decent high, driving position, giving you a good view of the road ahead. The large door mirrors which feature wide-angle sections, are also useful. Side wind assist, part of the ESC system, kicks in at over 43mph, which is useful in high winds.
Our van was fitted with the £800 rear assist camera, mounted by the rear mirror, to show you what’s going on behind. I set off on my all-motorway journey at 06.30 am & it doesn’t work in the dark. And, even when it was light from about 08.00 am, the grey skies outside, rain & Winter grime, meant that although you could see what was behind you, it was hard to tell exactly what it was or how far away they were as well. Also, be aware that if you’ve added a reversing camera, the images from that appear on the touchscreen, while the rear-mirror switches off.
We would give the camera a miss & instead spend the £800 you’d save fitting cruise control ( £250 ) & upgrading the infotainment system (£360 ), which will help you on the motorway & adds Navteq SatNav, TomTom live, R-Link connectivity, 2x20W speakers, an FM/AM/DAB tuner Bluetooth hands-free calls & USB & Aux in sockets.
Clearly, the latest Master is better than before & in the respect of improved fuel economy, on-board tech & safety features, ticks all the right boxes. There’s a wide range of engines & body sizes & the load capacities & rear load area access are all good as well. Value for money-wise, the Master’s competitive, with our basic model retailing at £33,000 ex vat, £36,910 with all of the extras it had fitted to it.
Body style Height Width Length
FWD SWB low-roof van 2,307mm 2,070mm 5,048mm
FWD SWB medium-roof van 2,496mm 2,070mm 5,048mm
FWD MWB medium-roof van 2,499mm 2,070mm 5,548mm
FWD MWB Crew Van medium roof 2,499mm 2,070mm 5,548mm
FWD MWB high-roof van 2,749mm 2,070mm 5,548mm
FWD LWB medium-roof van 2,488mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
FWD LWB high-roof van 2,744mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD MWB medium-roof van SW 2,527mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD MWB high-roof van SW 2,786mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD MWB medium-roof van TW 2,549mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD MWB Crew Van medium-roof TW 2,549mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD MWB high-roof van TW 2,815mm 2,070mm 6,198mm
RWD LWB medium-roof van TW 2,557mm 2,070mm 6,848mm
RWD LWB high-roof van TW 2,808mm 2,070mm 6,848mm
Width including mirrors 2,470mm
Load area dimensions
Body style Height Width Length Volume
FWD SWB low roof van 1,700mm 1,765mm 2,583mm 8.0m3
FWD SWB medium roof van 1,894mm 1,765mm 2,583mm 9.0m3
FWD MWB medium roof van 1,894mm 1,765mm 3,083mm 10.8m3
FWD MWB Crew Van medium roof 1,894mm 1,765mm 2,175mm 6.9m3
FWD MWB high roof van 2,144mm 1,765mm 3,083mm 12.3m3
FWD LWB medium roof van 1,894mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 13.0m3
FWD LWB high roof van 2,144mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 14.8m3
RWD MWB medium roof van SW 1,798mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 12.4m3
RWD MWB high roof van SW 2,048mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 14.2m3
RWD MWB medium roof van TW 1,798mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 12.4m3
RWD MWB Crew Van medium roof TW 1,798mm 1,765mm 2,825mm 8.3m3
RWD MWB high roof van TW 2,048mm 1,765mm 3,733mm 14.2m3
RWD LWB medium roof van TW 1,798mm 1,765mm 4,383mm 14.9m3
RWD LWB high roof van TW 2,048mm 1,765mm 4,383mm 17.0m3