Price: R848 800
Ybeenou know you’ve been travelling too much when you forget to check your air tickets. The motoring scene has madness these past few weeks, with manufacturers racing to launch end-of-year products before business shuts down for the Christmas break. By last Saturday, I had stopped bothering to even unpack, boarding nine planes in just seven days for events related to cars.
I’m normally a fastidiously organised traveller, so you can only imagine my shock as the Love of my Life and I arrived at Cape Town International Airport and discovered that the tickets we clung to said we were supposed to be boarding in Joburg.
Having recently relocated to the Mother City and travelling to Jozi weekly, it was easy for VW, which had organised a couples’ weekend away in Port Alfred via Port Elizabeth to showcase their newly launched Volkswagen T6 Kombi and Caravelle, to be as confused as I was about where I actually live.
More shock – I’d got the departure flight times totally wrong. Our muchneeded loved-up weekend away in the iconic T6 lay in tatters as the sounds of departing planes mocked our flightless state. As I sat on top of the luggage trolley, crumpled up in a heap of mascara-smudged tears, VW called, confused about why we’d not arrived with the Joburg crew in PE.
Within minutes of hearing my tale, we were rebooked on a 1pm flight to PE, where we were told a VW would be waiting for us to drive off to the Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred.
I’ve experienced enough detours in my life to know that every dark cloud does in fact have a silver lining.
Touching down in a windy PE, our knight in shining red armour came in the form of a brand-new manual VW Polo GTI.
Soon, our airport debacle was forgotten and we sped out of PE in our 1.8-litre, turbopetrol, 4-cylinder engine babe. I purred with pleasure as we felt 141kW/320 Nm of power take us through Eastern Cape scenic wonder.
Although not as sharp in shape as her main rivals – the new Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208 GTi – the up-market Polo offers five doors compared with both the competitors’ three.
There was plenty more on offer inside to up my excitement: park-distance control, a rear-assist camera, Climatronic air conditioning, and the Composition Media System with a colour touch screen and Bluetooth connectivity.
And then, of course, there was the Sport Select function, which gave us that extra oomph of 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds as we revved her up to make up lost time.
Best of all, with characteristic VW reliability, no matter what the often wet tar threw at us, aided by gorgeous new 17-inch Parabolica alloys, the ride felt very responsive and firm.
It took just over an hour for us to get to Port Alfred – in time for the T6 business presentation.
The conference room was packed with motoring journos and spouses as excited as we were to hear details of this iconic passenger vehicle, much loved by South Africans since 1955 – when the first Type 2 rolled off the assembly lines in Uitenhage.
And what a feast of a range there is on offer as we go into 2016, including the Pick Up, Panel Van and Crew Bus – and hot-selling passenger transport, the Kombi and the top-of-the-range Caravelle. There’s ample to choose from, with both short- and long-wheel base derivatives, passenger and commercial vehicles, including five- and six-speed manual gearboxes, as well as the seven-speed DSG transmission. What really stands out in the styling department are the strong horizontal lines and sharp-edged front treatment with sexy standard daytime running lights and standout LED headlights on up-market models. The interior is packed with plenty of offerings, like a new steering wheel, many redesigned storage areas, poweradjustable mirrors and height-adjustable driver’s seat, as well as a stylish, userfriendly new touch screen infotainment display.
Both the Kombi and Caravelle are packed with new safety offerings, including a fatigue-detection system and multicollision braking system.
My December work is cut out for me if I’m to go through the full Transporter range.