Style under van’s skin
There’s no mid-life crisis for the updated VW transporter, writes Craig Duff
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.