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Want to choose what extras you want on a used truck? Then Renault’s repurposed Range T X-Road is the vehicle for you.
When Renault unveiled its repurposed Range T X-Road in May last year it looked like a good idea. Fostering a situation where buying or leasing new fleet-spec tractor units on a three- or five-yearly replacement cycle is the norm has inevitably created a used market awash with such vehicles, and it’s no secret that every manufacturer has, at times, wondered what to do with them all.
With the X-Road, these trucks aren’t just moving on to their second lives, they’re starting whole new existences – or that’s the theory. We visited Renault’s dealership in Coventry to find out how is it marketing the X-Road, and what used buyers can expect when they turn up.
Neil Willis, Renault Trucks UK brand and retail sales manager for used trucks, admits that the principle demonstration product – a light construction vehicle, with a toughened bumper and steps, an added diff-lock and headlight guards – doesn’t really fit what is needed in this country. “Most UK construction firms want something heavy duty because it’s going to get used and abused, or something ultra-light because they’re payload conscious,” Willis explains.
“Also, in a lot of places in Europe many of the roads aren’t surfaced, whereas in the UK the majority are. I see the UK winning more customers in the recycling sector,” he continues, “places where the vehicles get well used, but the bulk of the time they are on paved road.”
But let’s not do this product a disservice by limiting it before we even start; many of these additions may appeal to general hauliers as well.
The beauty of the X-Road, however, is that – unlike any other used truck concept – the buyer gets to choose what is wanted from an options list, almost as if they were speccing a truck from scratch. It’s not easy to explain such a radical concept to the uninitiated, however. “I decided it was easier to show people vehicles already modified, rather than saying ‘it could have this and this’,” Willis tells us, “so I chose a selection of vehicles that I thought would suit the UK market and sent them away for conversion. People like to touch and feel before they buy.”
Willis’s launch vehicle – which is also CM’s test vehicle – has had just enough modification work done to demonstrate the possibilities without being overwhelming. The standard additions of steel bumper end caps, steel under-run bar, headlight protection guards, 315/80R22.5 tyres for greater ground clearance, in-cab hand throttle and off-road function on the gearbox, diff-lock and X-Road decals and styling (stickers, black badges and mirrors) are all in place. Then the options list offers a side-mounted alloy dual fuel/tipping tank, dual-purpose PTO equipment for tipping and walking floor use, and two orange LED roof beacons.
There are three ways you can acquire an X-Road. You can visit any Renault dealership, point at a tractor you like the look of and say “I’ll have that one with these options from the list added.” Or you can say “I’ll take any used truck of this age and mileage, as long as these options are added.” In both these instances, the truck in question would be dispatched to the factory in Lyon and returned four weeks later ready to go.
But many used buyers want something quicker than that, so the third approach is to buy something from stock as previously described.
In practical terms this means any that have been earmarked for retail sale – as opposed to trade or export – when they passed through one of Renault’s two return centres in Coventry and Avonmouth. The menu of options is too extensive to list, and while things like engines obviously aren’t there, most things within the boundaries of type approval can be added if requested – but only in France.
“I know it sounds a bit of a pain,” Willis says candidly, “but this is supported by Renault. It has set this facility up within the production plant in Lyon because it has got all the expertise there, and all the parts available.”
This has two major advantages. “Rather than just adding bolt-on modifications, this way we can drill down into the vehicle itself,” Willis tells us.
Unusually, as well as the usual driveline components, this also covers the AdBlue system, and because the whole shebang is run by Renault, rather than an insurance company on its behalf, there is no messing around with loss adjusters and so on if you do break down. “This means the warranty is registered on the system, just like a new vehicle,” Willis explains. “We issue the 24/7 number at vehicle handover, then you can just call if you have a problem and it’s dealt with there and then.”
Walking out to our test truck, we point to a tractor unit in the line-up – on a 2014 plate – and ask if we can have that one. We can. And the one next to it, if we like. Cosmetically speaking, everything available looks good, at least from a distance. “For all our vehicles, to qualify for our Selection warranty they have to go through a 200-point mechanical and cosmetic inspection,” Willis tells us, “and anything that needs to be done is done.”
Cosmetics, however, can be more flexible. “The odd stone chip we would let go, but if anything is damaged, cracked, rusty, or the paint is peeling, that gets rectified. But sometimes,” he continues, “because preparation comes at a cost, people will want to negotiate. That’s fine, but we don’t negotiate on the quality of the mechanics of the vehicle.”
Before conversion to an X-Road, our vehicle was a fleet-spec 2015 Range T 6x2 midlift tractor with a DT11 Euro-6 engine, giving it a nominal 460hp. This is coupled with Renault’s 12-speed Optidriver 2-pedal transmission. Our first impression is that it is rather more robust than in its original guise, and it doesn’t look used. This is helped by the fact that the chassis and wheels have been freshly painted and that most things from the chassis down have been sprayed gunmetal grey.
One area that can’t be modified as part of an X-Road conversion is the interior, although obvious damage such as holes in the dashboard and splits in seats will be rectified. There’s also the option of adding the usual aftermarket stuff as well, everything from seat covers to additional fridges. Vehicles are also valeted before handover, which is just as well – ours has some obvious grubby marks across the back wall.
The main thing that strikes us when test driving the Range T is how familiar it feels, and the X-Road is no exception. We have the Ultimate leather steering wheel this time, but we still don’t like the positioning of some controls on its rear, meaning you can’t glance down and see what you’re doing when you first set off. We’re sure we’d get used to them, but for now we’re left fumbling and faffing. We soon forget about this niggle, however, as we launch straight onto a busy roundabout after leaving the depot, and the gearbox behaves perfectly. Having initially turned on the Hill Start Aid we rapidly turn it off again as the Electronic Parking Brake removes the need to use it – provided we remember to put it on in the first place, something that takes a few false starts. That’s our fault though, not the truck’s; we’ve become lazy, but the EPB makes us even lazier, always a bonus.
Our planned route down the M6 is soon abandoned when we look up from the junction below to see it’s at a standstill, so instead we continue blindly down the A444 towards Coventry, while our co-pilot frantically digs out his phone to get us some directions. Next thing we know we’re weaving our way through a series of roundabouts, reading signs and changing lanes while dodging impatient Friday traffic, which is when we find ourselves remarking on how easy this all is.
We could have been settled in this truck for weeks, not minutes, for all the thought we’re giving to driving it. Admittedly we’ve been unable to get a loaded trailer today, but experience tells us our impression would have been the same regardless: we took the last used Range T we drove, which had the same engine, over the Pennines, fully freighted, and pointed it at one of the most notorious climbs in the area from a standing start and it didn’t miss a beat.
Today is, in many ways, more challenging, driving in busy urban traffic along unfamiliar roads. But when we return to our start point 90 minutes later we feel every bit as mentally fresh as when we set out. We also manage to return the X-Road and its trailer to the parking bay we started from, crammed between two other outfits, in one shunt, proving both that it is as easy to drive – and manoeuvre – in reverse as it is going forward and that we still remember how to back an artic.
Renault’s latest creation may not be the most glamorous vehicle on the road, but in many ways that is its greatest strength; it manages to be completely competent without being over-awing in any way. Add in the advantages the X-Road concept gives to operators who need a specific kind of truck, and we think the overall package is definitely worth a punt.
We’ll have the third from the left please, with tipping gear and an extra fuel tank.
Renault Trucks UK offers two finance options for operators looking to buy X-Road, hire purchase (HP) or finance lease. The difference is simple. “With HP you pay the VAT up front, then pay your monthly payments,” Neil Willis explains. “If you do a finance lease the monthly payments are the same, but you pay the VAT in addition to that as you go.” Either way, the figures would look like this:
2015 Range T 460.26:
Supplied with 12 months, 160,000km Selection driveline warranty. Typical finance on a standard X-Road (no additional equipment) hire purchase/finance lease, 36 months with 10% deposit: monthly payments of £999 (ex-VAT)
Neil Willis’s X-Road launch vehicle is based in Coventry, one of 10 Renault-owned dealerships in the UK, and spent part of last year visiting truck shows across the country.
You can also buy an X-Road through one of Renault’s nine private dealer groups, and six more trucks have been prepared to the same specifications so they can demonstrate the concept in the same way.
Renault Trucks UK has 59 dealer sites, spread from Elgin near Inverness in the north, down to Exeter in the south-west; there are also two in Northern Ireland. All dealer groups sell both new and used trucks, with 12 used retail sites spread across the UK network.
Click here to view all of the used Renault Range T tractor units we have in stock.