Van on the Run: Volkswagen Transporter Review
Vans generally have all the romance of an industrial unit filled with loo rolls, but one or two have a certain cachet thanks to their heritage.
The name Transit has almost become a generic for big white vans, although Ford now applies it to four different models, some of which are quite small.
Then we have Volkswagen’s Transporter van, which not that long ago appeared in new, T6 guise. As such it looks very much like an upgraded version of the T5 and 1990s launched T4 models (as in a conventionally handsome box). These vehicles are the latter-day successors of the much loved rear engined, air cooled VW split and bay windowed vans beloved of campers, surfers and hippies, so have a certain cachet which, whatever its merits, a Renault Trafic does not.
Recently a new, inelegantly christened T6 Transporter Kombi T32 Highline LWB EU5 2.0 BiTDI 180PS 7-speed DSG came my way. It cost over £39,000 and featured elements including self-levelling rear suspension and a DSG transmission.
The DSG is a self-shifting transmission, worked by a dash-mounted lever whose position didn’t seem to be quite in line with numbers and letters on the transmission control quadrant. It didn’t take long to get used to this, and if I was a stop/start delivery driver I’d approve of not having to change gear all the time.
This vehicle was a sort of crew bus with a second set of side windows, one in the sliding side door, and a firm-but-comfortable rear seat. Up front, where the high seating position gives you the chance to be nosy, a small bench where two not-too-huge builders could hunker while a third actually drove the van.
This was a car like an experience, beyond the inevitable blind spots and the fact that most of the vehicle is behind you. A rear-parking sensor would have been appreciated. However, the steering was fast enough, the thing rolled on corners, but stuck to its line, and had a remarkably un-fidgety rear end on poorly surfaced roads. Unladen the ride was firm-to-jiggly, but given the thing is capable of carrying a patio’s worth of paving slabs this is hardly a surprise.
As the interior is a working environment, it sensibly does not get the soft touch plastics for the dash and other cab surfaces you’d find in a Passat, but the fit and finish is excellent, and the comprehensive instrument display and thoughtfully laid out minor controls have a car like classiness.
Unlike its famous air-cooled predecessors, the T6 isn’t a vehicle with huge, individual character, but it does possess a typically modern VW feel, and if your working environment is a light commercial vehicle, then this one is a nice place to be.
Volkswagen Transporter T6 Kombi Stats Review
Top Speed: 119mph
Combined fuel consumption: 37.2mpg
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