Flexing its muscle
VW’s 4Motion van takes you anywhere, says GRAHAMSMITH
IF YOUR work takes you down dusty bush tracks, over snowy alpine roads, or across farm paddocks, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system could be the answer to all your traction woes.
All-wheel drive is featured on many passenger cars and SUVs, but there are few vans with the system. One that does have it is the VW Transporter and it is the only all-wheel drive model in the one-tonne van segment.
Volkswagen’s 4Motion system is the same as that fitted to several company passenger cars.
It’s a full-time system with drive going to all four wheels all the time. Mostly, 90 per cent of the drive goes to the front wheels, but it is redirected as needed to overcome any wheelspin detected. The maximum drive split is 50/50.
Though it’s not a 4WD system, it does give theVWvan the ability to go where a regular van can’t.
It is perfect for drivers who work in ski areas when roads can be covered with ice, or country ambulance drivers who spend their days driving on unsealed bush roads, work crews on remote mine sites, or tourists driving in the outback.
The all-wheel drive Transporter is generating special interest among country ambulance services where crews have to not only drive down unsealed secondary roads, but also have to negotiate sandy tracks and rough farm access roads.
To make the Transporter 4Motion even more capable off the beaten track, VW Australia has developed a local suspension kit for the factory-built van that increases its ride height and ground clearance by 29mm.
The spring and strut kit is fitted as an option once the van arrives here and is aimed at ambulance services that need greater ground clearance in bush operations.
Big Wheels recently sampled a short wheelbase standard roof Transporter van equipped with the 4Motion system.
The taller ride height of the suspension upgrade was obvious, but there was no obvious impact on the ride or handling of the standard van, which rides firm but comfortably and handles predictably and with precision.
When fitted with the 4Motion system, the Transporter comes with either the 96kW or the 128kW version of Volkswagen’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder TDi turbodiesel engine, and only comes with a six-speed manual gearbox.
VW claims a combined fuel consumption of 9.2 litres for 100km. The test van Big Wheels drove had the more powerful engine, which is the choice of most in the ambulance business.
First gear is low and really only useful at walking speed, or to get going in rough or rugged terrain, but the second through fourth intermediate gears provide plenty of get up and go and are useful around town.
The top two gears are for cruising on highways, the response in sixth gear is flat and you feel you need to change down to get any worthwhile acceleration.
If it weren’t for the 4Motion badges on the tailgate and the high riding stance, the all-wheel drive Transporter would be hard to pick in a car park full of Transporter vans.
The interior is comfortable with cloth trimmed seats, and a neat well laid-out dash. There’s air conditioning, CD sound, power windows and mirrors, an adjustable steering column and heaps of places to stow things.
Dual airbags provide crash protection, anti-skid brakes are standard and electronic stability control is optional.
Behind the cab the short wheelbase van will swallow up to 5.8’’cu m of cargo, which can be loaded through a sliding door on the left side or through the lift-up tailgate at the rear.
The GVM is 3000kg, and the 4Motion Transporter will tow up to two tonnes.
VW’s 4Motion can tackle snow and dust-covered roads or take you safely over farm paddocks.