Renault Master impresses in outback adventure

By: Matt Wood


Owner//Driver takes Renault’s Master on an outback trek to test its credentials.

Renault Master impresses in outback adventure
The Renault Master can indeed handle itself out among the red dust and blow flies.

 

Does the Renault Master make a good outback paper delivery truck? We decided to hit the road to Alice Springs and find out.

The brief was simple. We were travelling to the Truckie’s Reunion at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

Along the way we delivered copies of Owner//Driver and Deals on Wheels to road houses and chatted to a few characters that we met along the way.

Renault has been making steady inroads into the Australian light commercial vehicle market to date.

As much as 40 per cent of Renault’s business globally comes from the light commercial side and the landing of an Australian Post contract has seen the Renault badge become a more familiar sight in our cities.

That Renault logo, however, isn’t such a familiar sight in Australia’s interior.

That’s why we opted to take a rear-wheel drive Master on a 5,500km outback trek to see if the funny looking little French truck had what it took to stand up to the extreme conditions of central Australia.

The answer is? Well, yes it seems it can indeed handle itself out amongst the red dust and blow flies.

The Master wasn’t loaded as much as I would have liked it to be for our trip because someone screwed up and left me with half the magazines that I needed. Nonetheless I hit the road in the pre-dawn gloom in my black dual cab Master.

The 2.3 litre engine does seem a little light on capacity wise, especially in a 4.5 tonne GVM light truck.

But it does put out 150hp (110kW) and 350Nm of torque and that power is fed through either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automated ZF transmission.

I’m not a huge fan of the automatic manual transmission so my black beast was thankfully a manual.

The car-licence light truck segment in Australia is dominated by Japanese product but there are some capable European equivalents available that boast excellent road handling and ergonomics.

Essentially I wanted to see if I could spent six days behind the wheel of a light truck on remote roads and not require a wheelchair to get around afterwards.

Much of the Renault’s competition does have the option of larger engines and more power.

However, many light commercial roles tend to cube out before they max out on weight, meaning that there are economy gains to be had along the way with the smaller donk.

The Master proved exceptionally comfortable over the trip and road-holding over a variety of surfaces was also excellent.

The 16-inch steel wheels look almost comically tiny against the backdrop of the Renault’s expanses of sheet metal. And while they did tend to make things a bit skittish in the rough stuff, I wasn’t really meant to be on the Oonadatta track either!

It was a voyage of discovery where we found the answers to many important questions.

We found that it is possible to cook your dinner on the engine and it won’t taste like engine oil. We found that the top speed of a Renault Master in the de-restricted Northern Territory speed zone is an indicated 152 km/h with the air-conditioner off.

We found that eating three packets of Mentos in a row is not only bad for your health but also your state of mind.

But importantly we found that the Renault Master is a tough, comfortable and economical alternative to some of the more popular light trucks on the market.

With the recent launch of a motorhome variant of the Master, it perhaps also gave the big Renault some outback cred that it maybe didn’t have previously.

Read more about the Renault Master's trek in the November 2014 edition of Owner//Driver.

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