Delivery: ???

With an eye to defending its position against the tidal wave of all-new panel vans that has flooded the market over the past few months, Renault has given Master a makeover.

Under the bonnet there’s a Euro4-compliant 2.5-litre dCi common-rail diesel with either 100, 120 or 150PS on tap. The most powerful version comes with a particulate trap and replaces the 136PS 3.0-litre previously fitted. There is no petrol engine.

A six-speed gearbox comes as standard, while Quickshift6, an automated manual box, is offered as an option. ABS and EBD are standard, too, but you will pay extra for ESP – a situation that will doubtless change now Ford has installed ESP in virtually all Transits. Renault’s ESP takes into account the height, weight and position on the vehicle of any load being carried when making its calculations.

Only a van anorak is likely to discern the external differences between the new Master and its predecessor. Changes include a new front grille, a new front bumper able to accommodate factory fitted foglights, and a larger air inlet to meet the needs of Euro4.

Inside, Renault has also added shelves above the windscreen to provide some extra storage space, plus new seat upholstery.

While most fleets are likely to opt for the 120PS engine, there is no denying the appeal of the 150PS Master. It is a real flier, and should tempt the emergency services as well as to anybody who needs a bit of muscle to haul a heavy trailer.

In medium-wheelbase high-roof 3.5-tonne guise it rockets away from the start line, pulls strongly all the way up the rev range, and keeps pace with motorway traffic without ever having to breathe hard.

On the downside, the quality of the gear change, the ride, the road-holding and the level of noise suppression do not match what is on offer from Mercedes-Benz’s new Sprinter, Ford’s latest Transit, and Volkswagen’s Crafter. Nor, despite the addition of a large, centrally-mounted bin, does the design of the dashboard.

At least customers cannot complain about the breadth of the range. The Master is on offer as a chassis cab, a chassis platform, and a chassis double cab as well as a van, and as a six-, nine, or 16-seater (CHK minibus).

Bear in mind, too, that the Master is also marketed as the Movano by Vauxhall, and as the Interstar by Nissan, and that it is available through Renault truck dealerships as well as through the car and van network. Forging links with the truck operation might make particularly sound sense if your vehicles have to be serviced out-of-hours or require especially complex bodywork.