Road test: Renault Range T High Racing Sport

We put a limited edition Renault T High to work for a week and discover we could get used to living the High life…

Words: Dougie Rankine

The Renault Range T High has carved a successful niche for itself since arriving in right-hand drive form in 2018. A spacious cab, imposing looks and excellent driving dynamics – plus the fact they’re still pretty unusual – has given the truck a strong reputation.

In 2018, Renault released a very limited edition named the Racing Sport, which was a nod to the firm’s car racing success. Just 10 were built and we’ve already featured one in service for David G Davies.

Renault’s own demo unit did the show circuit last year and clocked up 6000km without ever having been hooked into a trailer! We were given the opportunity to be the first to put it into service, so we made arrangements to work it for W Martin Oliver Transport for a week. The truck was delivered to their yard at Hexham, and I collected it from there on a Saturday afternoon.

Bells & whistles

What exactly do you get with a Racing Sport? First up, that lairy yellow paintjob and black trim. Personally, I love it. The truck really stands out and you can spot one of these a mile off.

On the inside there’s leather trim, top-spec seats made by Recaro no less, and more yellow and black embellishment. There’s a fridge, but no microwave or coffee maker as you’d probably find in a Swedish truck, but no big deal. Power output from the 13-litre engine is 520hp, the top rating for a Renault.

I hook the truck into a curtainsider which was full of chipboard destined for delivery in Cumbernauld on Monday. The paperwork showed the gross weight to be 43,500kg so it would be a good test – loaded weight never dropped below 42 tonnes all week.

Chipboard isn’t the nicest stuff to haul – you have to take care on the corners because even if it’s strapped, it can still shift and that can cause problems when you come to unload it. My first task is simply to run the truck back to Scotland and park it at Rocks Off Gravel’s yard a few minutes from my home. Cheers to Scott Mealyou for letting me park there – it made life so much easier!

Ready for nights out

With the delivery booked for early Monday morning, I figure I may as well sleep in the truck, so I fill the car with all the stuff I need to rig the cab out for a week on Sunday afternoon and get to work. PPE, clothes, bedding, food, laptop, oven, kettle inverter, gas hob, cleaning materials and more.

The good thing about the T High cab is it swallows it all no problem. I like the upper bunk that flips up at the front to create a huge storage area – there’s more space there than in a set of rear lockers.

It’s a cold, windy night as I settle down in the comfortable bunk. The cab is well insulated from the wind, but due to the sheer area of the interior, it takes the night heater some time to bring the temperature up. However, once it’s there, it does manage to maintain it. My alarm goes off at 5.30am and I’m soon on the road and at the delivery point in Cumbernauld bang on time at 7am.

The customer is not expecting the delivery until the following day, so they don’t have space for it. Thankfully they clear a space and don’t tell me to come back tomorrow, this takes about 90 minutes but once that’s done I’m soon tipped and on my way to Ayrshire to reload more chipboard. Having hauled near to max weight, the empty trailer now makes the Renault feel like a race truck!

As with each occasion I drive a Range T, it takes a bit of time to get my hand in and get used to the set up. It’s very busy around the steering wheel with a plethora of stalks and buttons. I feel that I have to think about what I’m doing, rather than it being second nature. The stereo controls are located to the lower right hand side of the wheel and it’s complicated to use, with some functions only available there and not through the touch screen.

You’ll get used to it all, but it really isn’t a truck you can just hop in and drive and get the best from it without a bit of training or prior experience.

Teething problems

High winds en route to Auchinleck mean the journey is less relaxing than it could be, but I get there in good time and there is only a short queue to get loaded.

And so begins a recurring theme of the week, where I declare: “Uhh, I’ve never been here before,” and have to receive instructions on where to drive, where to stand, who to speak to and what I’m supposed to be doing in general. I’m completely at a loss as to how I get the straps through the middle of the chipboard packs until a forklift driver hands me a stick-device designed to do just that.

Unfortunately, I leave it propped against the trailer and when he loads the first packs on, the trailer drops down and snaps the stick, which he has probably had for years. Oops. I get a bit of a sweat on sorting the straps and curtains, and then forget to collect my paperwork so I have to drive off the weighbridge and walk back in to retrieve it. Oops. It’s my first day, right?

The road out sees me pick up the tight, twisting and often rutted A70, which carries me east to the M74. A slow pace is required with the heavy load and the Renault deals with it all with no fuss, always selecting the correct gear. I make good use of the engine brake and note that for the size of the truck, it sits well through the corners. Amazingly the sun comes out for a while and there’s some blue sky to enjoy.

Engage cruise

Once onto the M74 it’s time to set the adaptive cruise control and relax. One thing I note is that the truck doesn’t eco-roll as I feel it should be doing, and it drops speed in odd places. With predictive cruise it’s normal for a truck to cut the power on the crest of a hill, but the Renault does it on flat sections of road. It’s rather odd and I think it was in need of a software update after a year of running bobtail.

In any case, I often over ride it by knocking the cruise off, which then prompts the gearbox to move into eco-roll mode – and with that weight on the truck will carry itself for long distances. I hold it back at 60mph to be good.

I stop in at Lockerbie lorry park for a ham and cheese panini and 30-minute break before heading back to Oliver’s yard at Hexham where I’m dropping the trailer and collecting an empty one to be reloaded at the Egger factory nearby. Unlike this morning there is a big queue and it takes over four hours to get in and out again, with a two-drop load on for Devon.

I had enough driving time to get quite a distance south, but my 15 hours were up so I parked among the trailers at Oliver’s that night and took 9 hours off.

Down to Devon

The following morning I fuelled up at The Fleece near Carlisle. The fuel economy is sitting at 8.0 mpg at this point. After dealing with the A70 and A69 at full weight, and strong winds throughout, the figure is pretty much on par with the rest of the Oliver’s fleet which has MAN TGX 500s, DAF XF 530s and a sole Range T High 480. The freight is heavy and there isn’t much empty running so around 8.5 is the fleet average. We’d expect more from the Renault once it’s bedded in too.

Once fuelled up, it was simply a matter of getting on down to Devon. I called ahead to the customers that I would not be able to get the goods tipped that day, so there was no point in rushing. I take the truck into Lymm Truckwash and meet up with boss Laura for a chat and a bit of social media, and then grab a McDonalds breakfast from the services.

The truck was photographed and videoed in the truckstop – it gets attention wherever it goes.

With a fresh card, I hit the road south. The M6 is busy but moves well, and then the M5 is pretty quiet. In need of some facilities for the night I called upon some local knowledge and rang the driver of our February issue’s Ed Choice, Emma Todman, who recommended stopping at the J24 truckstop at Bridgwater for the night. There aren’t too many options that far south, but I want a shower and I don’t want to park in a layby overnight.

It’s only 3pm when I park up so I get my running kit out, and do 7km as it’s mild – my first run outdoors since October last year. Then I cook up stewed steak, peas carrots and baby potatoes in a pan with the gas hob for dinner, then do a bit of T&D work on the laptop. Another great sleep is had thanks to the comfortable bunk and I’m nice and fresh the following morning.

Ups & downs

The hills of Devon are something else! The Renault has to work really hard and it feels like it’s still tight, but having 520hp on tap does help. I end up down some B-roads and the high driving position helps with seeing over the hedgerows.

I get the drops the wrong way round, but the forklift driver is good enough to shift the packs up to the headboard for me – he could have refused to do that which would have been a pain. At each drop I fielded questions about the truck. Mostly “What is that? It’s really cool!” People are genuinely curious about this enormous yellow lorry.

I’m then directed to the yard of Thomspon’s of Devon for a load which turns out to be Devon custard (and rice pudding). How appropriate! After fighting with the internal trailer straps for a while, I’m soon loaded and have a good natter with the Thompson’s boys about their well-looker-after fleet of Renault Premiums. They’re amazed at the space inside the big T High. I get some helpful tips about the drop in Tamworth and then get on my way north.

Parking that night is taken care of at Standeford Farm truckstop, with a dinner of chicken curry, rice and chips. Having the big cab really does make life easier. The last two times out tramping I’ve had flat-roof cabs, but with the T High everything is stored away and there’s just so much room to move around inside.

Cold start

It’s frosty the following morning as I cut across the A5 to Tamworth to unload. I have to wait outside the RDC for a phone call and I use that time to take the internal straps off. Once inside, the trailer is tipped quickly and I’m back on the road, with a short drive to load bottled water. The forklift driver on site apologies and tells me I might have a bit of a wait. No problem, I get some cab cleaning done and get the kettle on… which dies. Thankfully the I have the hob too, but a new kettle will be needed!

As it turns out, I’m loaded in decent time, with the destination Newcastle. Amazingly, it’s a bright sunny day – there weren’t many of those in February! My route takes my across to the M1 and past the J29 truckstop at Chesterfield where I pick up a new kettle.

By now I’m very at home with the truck and appreciating the outstanding ride comfort. The Recaro seat is also one of the best in the business; not once do I feel any discomfort on the long journies. The miles pass by with the minimum of fuss, switching between streaming podcasts and listening to the DAB radio.

The water isn’t booked for delivery until the following day, but I chance my luck at the Costco and the guys are cool and tip it right away – get in! Clearly I was on a roll this week.

There aren’t any truckstops in Newcastle or surrounding area so I ask online for parking recommendations and several of you tell me to go to Team Valley, where I find a good, well-lit spot for the night.

Last load

My final load is waste paper to be collected near Durham and run to a paper mill on the A69. Getting the internal straps over that little lot is (not) fun. Thick fog that morning sees crashes and long delays on the A1 so I plot a route cross country to the A68. I’m not convinced about the factory-fit TomTom sat nav that tries to route me round a hairpin junction there’s no way an artic would get round, and then down a “Unsuitable for HGVs” farm road.

The route to the A68 is the toughest yet for the truck, the hills were extremely steep and the roads were narrow. Again, for such a big truck, the Renault displayed surprising agility. I think the engine brake could be stronger though, it’s not on a par with, say, the Paccar one. There’s a definite smell of hot brakes when I stop for a photo.

At the paper mill you have to drive in, and once tipped back out onto the road with the help of a banksman. Throughout the week I was impressed with the low-speed throttle control, and I was able to manoeuvre the truck out in one go.

With that done, it was back to Oliver’s at Hexham to drop the trailer and that brought my week with the Range T High to a close. Overall mpg for the week was 8.2 – we’d expect that to improve with kinder weather conditions and more kms under its belt.


This has to be the best special edition truck of the last few years, simply because it’s so eye-catching and gets so much attention. All that doesn’t count for anything if the truck fails to measure up, but the T High does. It does so much so well. The performance, gearbox, comfort and space are all first class. It’s got a strong image too, that evades a few rivals and the build quality is solid as well.

It does have a few flaws. The steering adjustment (which is about to be fixed) and the lack of dash storage (there’s only one cup holder – we used the square drawer) can be a bit annoying, as can the amount of controls round the steering wheel. It’s fiddly and takes time to get used to.

None of that is a deal breaker though. The Range T High is an excellent long-hauler, and with some tweaks to the interior Renault will have a truck that is a potential class leader.