Converted van based on the Renault Trafic
From 58,900 euros.
Version tested: Automatic transmission DCI 2.O l 150 hp EDC
Price 63,600 euros
Motorhome owners, like their customers, only have these words on their lips: vans and converted vans. Less bulky and therefore easier to drive than heavy overcabs and huge integrals, it doesn’t lack any branding. Everyone is giving in and even the car manufacturers have persisted. This is how in Renault’s official catalog we find the SpaceNomad Traffic which is nothing more than a utility vehicle freed from the chains of the diamond in Sandouville. Once assembled, it goes to Angers, where the Pilote group adapts it and turns it into a car to live and sleep in.
But the Pilote group also has a series of its own brands. In addition to the well-known Pilote, there are Bavaria, Frankia, Le Voyageur and Hanroad. The latter, born in 2015 following the acquisition of a company that had been designing vans since 1929, specialized in vans based on the Trafic, such as the SpaceNomad. Is this better or worse? Should we opt for the developer version instead of the builder version? That’s what we tried to discover when handling, driving, cooking and sleeping in one of the current models in the range: the Trek 5+.
Just look around to see its main advantage: its size. It measures 5.08 m. It is exactly the length of a Trafic L1 and has a significant advantage: its height is slightly less than the fateful 2 m. A precision that has its advantages. For one thing, the Trek 5+ passes through tolls like a standard car and doesn’t pay heavy vehicle surcharges. But, in addition, it allows access to almost all open car parks which have had the unfortunate tendency in recent years to be equipped with barriers, placed precisely 2 m away, just to scare away motorhomes and other vans.
Free from heavy vehicle tax, free from municipal restrictions
Except the van created in The Hanroad is equipped with a lifting roof, which logically increases the height by a few centimeters. “This goes” a Hanroad manager whispered to us. So we try, we hold our breath, we even dodge out of pure reflex when passing through a barrier. And indeed, we passed. However, this van, like all the others, which many customers buy to use as a daily car, is not a private car. The Trafic continues to be a utility vehicle with the lack of sound insulation and comfort of a utility vehicle. We are far from being a limousine, and anyone who swaps the steering wheel of a sedan for this machine will immediately realize this.
The fact is that the Trek 5+, in the 2-liter DCI 150 hp configuration and EDC automatic transmission, performs very well on the road and on the highway, and even in the city when conditions allow its 1.95 m width to fit inside . Its torque of 350 Nm allows you to circulate without problems at the speed of the flow of cars, and even overtake, thus avoiding creating the legendary traffic jam on mountain roads sometimes caused by a heavy motorhome in difficulties.
Of course, when turning, you sometimes hear some hardware noises, due to the furniture fixed on board. But nothing excessive and, above all, nothing prohibitive. This furniture is also cleverly placed along the wall behind the driver. And if it’s very similar to the SpaceNomad, it’s also very practical, with drawers that close and small cabinets equipped with shutters that allow you to protect the objects you place there. Everything is made from a material that resists time.
Hidden in this furniture are a small 49-liter refrigerator and a two-burner stove with piezo ignition. It is powered by a gas cylinder hidden in the basement, which frees up space in the cabin. But the big question of this winter test is obviously linked to the additional heating we benefit from on board this Hanroad. It’s a 2,000W diesel fan heater with an “altitude kit” that supposedly remains effective up to 2,500m altitude.
Bank. We stopped to camp just 200 m above sea level and, to make the exercise more difficult, we decided to sleep with the lifting roof wide open. As its walls are made of canvas, it should logically bring a certain freshness to the cabin. Especially since it’s 0° outside. The heating is on and, apart from a slight noise from the blower, the oil engine proves to be quite silent.
The noise is for others, the neighbors who will benefit from the hum of this small generator placed outside, beneath the Trafic’s chassis. Surprise, by setting the temperature to 22° you quickly get gentle heat that lasts all night. But the seizure will (somewhat) disturb sleep, which is quite comfortable on the 124cm by 188cm folding bench on the ground floor (another bed is hidden in the lifting roof and measures 139cm by 190cm). This slight fear is called diesel consumption. Will efficient heating empty the traffic tank?
In the morning, it’s a surprise. After a night of very intense heating, it is impossible to distinguish with the naked eye a drop in the diesel gauge. Effective and sober, this system. But in a van worthy of the name, and on a winter night, you also need to know how to light yourself. The LEDs do the job perfectly, without draining the auxiliary battery, even if it has difficulty recharging thanks to the solar panel located on the machine’s roof. As for charging your smartphone, don’t worry: 6 USB sockets are nestled in the van.
In any case, the battery allowed us to maintain perfect autonomy during the three days and two nights of our trip. Autonomy on electricity, but also on water, thanks to the 60 l tank. It’s not much, of course. But enough to make dinner and breakfast. Obviously, if a family of 4 occupies the van, which has 4 beds but 5 seats (hence the 5 on the Trek 5+), they will need to avoid showering. A very easy sacrifice to make in winter, as the small shower is in the back of the van and the water is not heated (it is an option). So invite a sedentary friend or go to a year-round campsite if you’re traveling for several days.
SpaceNomad or Hanroad? A cruel dilemma
So, is this Hanroad Trek 5+ preferable to a SpaceNomad Trafic? Let’s get the calculator. The model from the Pilote group brand costs, in the configuration of this test, 63,600 euros. At Renault, its cousin costs 63,700 euros with an identical engine and gearbox. It’s not the 100 euros that will make the difference, but rather what we prioritize at the time of sale and in the after-sales service.
Hanroad, with 17 distributors in France, obviously does not have the same branch as the Renault network with ten times as many agents and dealers. On the other hand, they are specialists, while Renault salespeople are better able to sell simple Meganes and Trafics than converted vans. As for after-sales service, the choice is difficult. In the event of a mechanical problem with a Hanroad model, it will take charge of the Renault network. On the other hand, Hanroad specialists are better able to manage any problems with the equipped part. It is, therefore, a dilemma for the customer that only he can resolve.