Style un­der van’s skin

There’s no mid-life cri­sis for the up­dated VW trans­porter, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

A MID-LIFE update hasn’t trans­formed Volk­swa­gen’s T5 Trans­porter — at least not ex­ter­nally. It’s what’s un­der the slab­sided skin that counts and it’s here that VW has filled out the gaps of what is an im­pres­sive model range.

The T5’s two-wheel drive ver­sions ar­rived in Fe­bru­ary and now the big ap­peal is the just-launched com­bi­na­tion of a seven-speed DSG gear­box and 4Motion all-wheel drive.

The DSG is a $3000 op­tion — and one most de­liv­ery op­er­a­tors should tick — and the 4Motion op­tion is an­other $ 3500. The cheap­est 4Motion-equipped ve­hi­cle will cost $45,490, ris­ing to $77,990 for the Mul­ti­van High­line.

‘‘The au­to­matic opens up the mar­ket for us— the van busi­ness is about 50 per cent au­to­matic,’’ VW Aus­tralia com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles di­rec­tor Phil Clark says.

The DSG is un­ob­tru­sive and, mated to the 132kW 2.0-litre twin-tur­bod­iesel, delivers im­pres­sive fuel econ­omy. A high-speed run through Ger­many pushed the seven-seat Mul­ti­van and high-roofer Trans­porter into dou­ble-digit fig­ures, but only just. It’s a no-brainer op­tion for peo­ple who are in and out of the ve­hi­cle all day.

The 4Motion sys­tem is avail­able only on the twin-turbo en­gine and our time in it failed to reg­is­ter a flicker on the dash. That’s prob­a­bly be­cause the roads were mainly au­to­bahn.

And the top-end T5 is the vol­ume seller. The base 75kW en­gine ac­counts for 6 per cent of sales, the 103kW en­gine grabs 46 per cent and the 132kW ver­sion 48 per cent.

The safety fea­tures are straight out of the pas­sen­ger car cat­a­logue. There’s a driver and front pas­sen­ger airbag, and the op­tion of adding head and tho­rax airbags for both par­ties. ESP sta­bil­ity con­trol is stan­dard and the ba­sic chas­sis de­sign makes a very large van very sim­ple to drive.

On-road man­ners are as car-like as big white boxes get , even if Volk­swa­gen is at pains to point out most of its T5s aren’t sold in white.

The dash lay­out is typ­i­cally VW, with clear in­stru­ments and switchgear that are easy to work. The ride from the high-roof Trans­porter was fault­less, though at high speeds (much higher than Aus­tralians can legally travel), it had some ‘‘boom’’ from the empty cargo com­part­ment. Wind the sound sys­tem up and you can drown it out, but it’s one of the few re­minders you’re in a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle.

The Mul­ti­van didn’t have that is­sue and the only con­ces­sion to ‘‘mini-bus’’ travel comes in the plas­tics.

And the dash-mounted bot­tle­hold­ers don’t hold. They’re good for a cup of cof­fee, but the spring-loaded arm grips let 600mm bot­tles top­ple out, even on se­date corner­ing.

Not that you have to be se­date — the 400Nm from the 132TDI mo­tor pushes the ve­hi­cle down the road at a re­spectable rate at an av­er­age quoted fuel con­sump­tion of 8.4 litres/100km.

Big ap­peal: (above) a fault­less ride in the the seven-seat Mul­ti­van and (be­low) the Trans­porter.

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