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Renault Master van-like to drive and all the better for it!

Business Van Review of the Renault Master LWB MR 165 Energy Business

YES I know. Like teachers, we aren’t supposed to have favourites but in real life of course we do – and one of my particular favourites in the heavy panel van sector has always been the Renault Master.

Most of the manufacturers are trying to make vans more car-like to drive nowadays and they are doing it by making the seats more laid back and tilting the steering wheels over at an ever greater angle, so it almost feels as though you are lying on a settee.

I’m sorry but I like the old upright van position with an almost horizontal steering wheel. It feels more truck like but after a couple of hundred miles on the road you certainly feel less pain in the back.

The Master is one of the few vans left to maintain this position so that in itself gives it a big tick in my book. There are other things I like too, so let’s cut the eulogies short and get on with some useful info.

The Master was upgraded this summer with new looks, fresh options and a new set of engines offering better fuel economy.

We didn’t reckon there was anything wrong with the old model to be honest, but most of the van makers are running scared after seeing how blindingly good the new Ford Transit is and feel they have to do something to fight back.

Our test model is the long wheelbase medium high roof model with a stonking 2.3-litre twin turbo 165bhp engine under the bonnet, which isn’t exactly going to be the variant of choice for bigger fleets. If you are an owner-driver though, it ain’t half fun!

For those seeking more modest outputs there are also 110bhp, 125bhp and 135bhp units on offer.

In the upgrade there are two spec levels – Business and Business+.

Our test model is the lower level variant but even still weighs in at a hefty £28,900 as it boasted a fine array of added extras.

Renault, Master, front, back, parked
With its new diamond and chrome grille, the new Renault Master is a bit of a looker


What’s hot

  • We’ve always admired the dashing looks of the Master, with its massive Renault diamond and snazzy chrome grille. It’s amazing now how a few carefully repositioned lines make the new model even better looking.
  • As stated above, the driver’s seat is a dream with plenty of lumbar support.
  • And Renault takes the ‘Witherington Coffee Cup Holder Prize’ too. Regular readers will know how important I deem this little item to be and the Master has no fewer than four. A record we think. How much coffee can a driver drink at one go, though, I wonder?
  • Thanks to a new EU law which makes the fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which helps alleviate sideways skids, a legal requirement after October, the Master now gets this wonderful gadget as standard. It was always a paid-for option in the past, a point which we’ve railed against on several occasions. Also standard, by the way, are ABS brakes, Grip Xtend, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Swing Assist, which all do exactly what they say on the tin.
  • Despite this van being the highest powered version, it is still reckoned to return over 40mpg on the official combined cycle. That’s 7.3mpg better than the engine it replaces. Mind you we always point out here that once you load several heavy boxes in the back and drive up and down a few hills against a strong wind, you are highly unlikely to replicate this figure as it is calibrated on a rolling road, in a nice warm shed with no wind resistance. We reckon 35mpg is a good figure to aim for – not bad even still for a van of this size.
  • This was only a medium roof variant but six-footers can still stand up in the back. If you or your drivers do lots of drops in the day, that could be an important health and safety point.
renault, master, tom,tom, sat, nav
Renault Master Tom Tom sat-nav system is an expensive option

What’s not

  • When we picked the van up we were glad to see it had air-con as it was a stinking hot day. Perusing the spec sheet, we discovered that this little goody retails at an eye-popping £800. Seeing as you get air-con for free when you buy a Citroen Relay Enterprise model, we reckon that’s a bit rich. To be fair, though, you get it as standard on Business+ models.
  • Talking of Citroen Relays, you also get a free Teletrac sat-nav and stolen tracking device when you buy one. If you want a built-in TomTom unit in the Master, you have to cough up £650. Personally, I’d scoot round to Halfords and pick up one of those “mobile” units for £100!
Renault, Master, Interior
Upright driving position won’t suit all, but our test found it really comfortable


It’s stylish, it’s incredibly comfortable to drive and now it’s safer and more economical. We reckon the new Master will give the Transit a fair old run for its money.

On the road price (ex-VAT)£28,900
Load length3,733 mm
Load width (max)1,765 mm
Load height1,894 mm
Load volume13 cu metres
Towing capacity braked2,500 kg
Engines2.3-litre Turbo diesel
Power/Torque165bhp /360Nm
Economy (combined)32.8 mpg
CO2 emissions184 g/km



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