Renault New Zealand is dipping its toe into the light-duty truck market (over 4500kg GVM) with an all-new 4×4 version of its rear-wheel drive Master L4H1 cab/chassis.
The first example of the Oberaigner Automotive-supplied Renault Master cab/chassis 4×4 off-road transporter arrived just in time for the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
Germany-based Oberaigner is a Group Renault certified partner and is responsible for adding the all-wheel-drive system to rear-wheel drive versions of the Master cab/chassis but only those with six-speed manual transmissions.
Thanks to that certification for the installation of the four-wheel-drive system and low ratio transfer case, the full Renault factory warranty continues to apply to the Master 4×4. The vehicle retains its standard factory-fitted rear differential lock as well.
Converting the Master to 4×4 raises the chassis by 65mm for easier off-road use.
But Oberaigner says the vehicle is not suitable for heavy off-road use. Instead, the all-wheel-drive system is intended for short-term use on unpaved surfaces such as mud and grass and to provide the traction required for “special driving situations”.
It is best suited to use on building sites, road construction and dirt roads or wherever additional traction is required that is beyond the capability of the rear differential lock.
The Master 4×4 pictured employs a 4322mm wheelbase chassis, as well as a double cab capable of seating up to seven people. It has a 4.5 tonne GVM, a payload capacity of more than two tonnes and a towing capability (braked) of three tonnes.
Fully loaded, it has a fording depth of 300mm at a velocity of no more than 10kmh.
The L4H1 double cab and chassis with the 6-speed manual transmission and 120kW twin turbodiesel engine has a GST inclusive price of $69,990.
The 4×4 option fitted by Oberaigner is another $25,000 including GST and the factory fitted dropside aluminium tray is another $7975 including GST.
So, by adding on-road charges of $1950 for registration, fuel, 10,000km RUC and delivery to Auckland, the Master 4×4 hits the road at a retail price of $101,990.
Renault New Zealand says it can also supply single cab/chassis versions as well as vehicles without the factory-fitted tray to cater to local customer specifications.
At nearly seven metres long and 2.5 metres wide, including the side-mounted rear-view mirrors, the Master 4×4 feels like a truck when you leap into the driver’s seat but it is almost car-like to drive.
It’s got a nice short throw manual gearshift, a light clutch, responsive brakes and a very torquey 2.3-litre twin turbocharged diesel engine that pulls away strongly from a standing start.
The responsive steering and lithe handling on the road are pleasantly surprising for a vehicle of its size and capability.
Its off-road traction is also a surprise. While the Master 4×4 is not a bush-bashing vehicle, it will easily get its occupants and deck load into places that a regular 4×2 would struggle to reach.
We put the all-wheel-drive system to the test by finding a wet and muddy paddock in a new South Auckland industrial estate development.
Placing the gearstick into neutral and pressing both the 4×4 button and the low range button sees the systems engage in milliseconds. Dis-engaging was equally quick and painless.
Climbing up through wet grass and mud was child’s play for the Oberaigner-equipped Master 4×4 during our photoshoot but you need to go slowly and carefully because the turning circle is reduced when all-wheel-drive is selected.
All the standard Renault electronic traction aids are also disabled for greater traction in these conditions.
The Master 4×4 adds another safe, efficient, and capable light-duty truck to the New Zealand market and will give the Japanese brands a run for their money.