Volkswagen Transporter Commercial Vehicle Review

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The first Volkswagen model built was the ‘Type 1’. We know it better as the Beetle. The next VW that rolled off the production line in 1950 was unsurprisingly called the ‘Type 2’. It was a Beetle-based van that would, like the Beetle, become an iconic shape with overall global sales of 12 million to date. The type 2 ‘Camper’ in particular, is a classic, and a good one will set you back anything from €15K upwards.

The latest Transporter is now in its 6th generation and we’ve been testing an impressive ‘Highline’, long wheelbase version (short wheel base versions are available too). Powering our machine is a 2-litre TDI engine with 180hp. Two-wheel drive versions will be the big sellers, but our machine has 4-Motion all-wheel drive. This is a great feature as it allows sure-footed, year round access to unpaved building sites.

Power in our test van is delivered via a six-speed manual gearbox (the entry point is a five-speed transmission). VW says that in terms of fuel consumption (cough cough), it will average 7.5-litres per 100 kilometres – or in old money, 38mpg. On-paper, 208g of CO2 is produced. The diesel engine range across the entire Transporter range is model dependent. At its core is a 2-litre TDI with various power outputs ranging from 84hp to 204hp! Petrol versions are built too and they are aimed at the US and Asian markets particularly. Stop/Start is standard to aid fuel efficiency.

Transporter T6 (1)

In terms of appearance it doesn’t seem like they changed much from the T5, but on closer inspection the lines and detailing have been refined to deliver a handsome machine. Our T6 featured a single near-side sliding door and the optional ‘up and over’ solid tailgate (two wide opening rear doors come with the standard model). The inside was half paneled and there are plenty of tie hooks to aid lashing down cargo. Transporter ‘Delivery’ (VW’s name for the van version), depending on the model, can carry up to three euro pallets, has a load area length up to 2975mm, has a payload capacity of up to 1.4 tons and has a 2.5 tons trailer rating.

Inside the cab VW’s core DNA is present and all the switchgear, even the steering wheel, is from the VW passenger car range. The cockpit has a number of optional layouts. Our test van was a single cab with seating for three (at a squeeze), with a two-seat bench to the drivers left. The handbrake is positioned between the driver’s seat and the bench. It can be cozy at best with three-up.

Transporter’s box at the back, depending on the version, can hold up to 9.3 m³ volume. There is also a multitude of body styles, two wheelbases and three roof heights available for the commercial user. Apart from the single cab ‘Delivery Van’, the ‘Kombi’ can carry up to 9 people (with 35 seating packages!), and the double-cab ‘Kombi Doka Plus’ offer best of both options. There is also a single or double cab ‘Dropside’, which much loved by Councils and builders. And of course, the Transporter ‘Chassis’ version allows coachbuilders free reign to build any body-style required on a single or double cab chassis.

Transporter Bob

The cargo area in our test machine is divided from the cabin by a steel bulkhead. As with most panel vans, the Transporter won’t allow you slide the driver’s seat far enough back to get that car-like leg position you might want. That said, the seat is adjustable in every other direction. When cornering you notice that the driver’s chair could do with a bit more lateral support, but otherwise it is business as usual for the very popular machine.

Standard equipment on highline is very good with electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Car Play, front fog lamps, leather multi-function steering wheel, and even cruise control as standard (this is ever more vital in a commercial vehicle to keep licenses clean and to help lower insurance costs). A heated front screen comes with highline spec, as does a parking radar to the front and rear – again brilliant to have in a vehicle with restricted rearward vision. A USB and 12 volt power socket feature too, and if you want to hit the options list, the LED headlamps are literally brilliant! To help avoid collisions there are also a number of electronic driver aids.

The long wheelbase has a comfortable ride (even when empty) and the driving experience is first rate. About 90% of Transporters are available with the excellent 4-Motion all-wheel drive system that provides great traction – which is very welcome when driving a van. A DSG gearbox (automated dual-clutch manual) is available too.

Transporter T6 (2)

The Transporter also has a ‘Multivan’ range. This higher-end Transporter includes our favourite version – the brilliant ‘California’ camper van. The ‘Caravelle is the posh people carrier and the ‘Multivan’ itself is an MPV on a tighter budget. A special edition two-tone ‘Generation Six’ also pays homage to the original from the 1950s and pulls on the nostalgia strings big time.

Our test van came with over 4K of extras and the cost is €43,981 or €35,594 ex. VAT. The SWB Transporter starts at just over €25K (on the road) or €20K ex. VAT.

Volkswagen’s T6, in any guise, is an excellent commercial.

Read what Michael thinks of the Touran here.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for over 18 years and is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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