VW’s versatile combi finds the middle ground between a van and a car
If you rarely ferry more than four passengers or anything weightier than a Labrador, it’s a car that you’re after. For anything beyond that, you’re looking at a van. Probably.
Unless you’re shifting white goods or furniture, in which case you’ll be better off with something along the lines of a lorry.
A van, however, can be anything from a worker’s panel van to a taxi driver’s nine-seater. And this week’s test drive review roughly sits in between those two.
But this Volkswagen Transporter is one with a difference.
Mix and match
The ‘Edition’ trim comes with a few features that you won’t get in the lower specs, like LED lights and a touchscreen with satnav and DAB+ radio.
But this particular model has been upgraded with the front bumper, rear spoiler and alloys that are fitted to the top-spec Transporter Sportline.
The flashy paintjob contrasts well with the black detailing on the bumpers, alloys and decals – you can imagine those in the market for a van of this spec will have no qualms about standing out.
It doesn’t have to be passengers or loading space
The VW Transporter comes in as many shapes as you can imagine, with a model for just about anything.
If you’re needing a mix of passenger seating and loading space, a combi van will give a more than decent balance of the two.
The Kombi Edition has generous space for five in the front, and even more for whatever you’d want to throw in the back – 5.8m2 of load space, to be exact.
It can even be tricked up as a motorhome, fitted with everything from stoves to plug sockets. You can see why the Transporter is so popular in Europe.
Behind the wheel
As you’d expect, the higher driving position gives an unrestricted view of the road ahead. Having an extra few feet on the other drivers in a traffic jam, alone, makes the upgrade to a van that bit more appealing.
Inside, the Transporter’s cabin is equally as uncluttered – the dashboard’s compartments and storage areas are tidied with retractable lids, surrounded by a clever blend of stylish glossy panels and tough, practical plastic.
Real-world capability is a trait that carries over into the way it moves about, too. The Kombi Edition is fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, in either manual or automatic transmission.
The model I tested had the latter, with the 7-speed DSG gearbox – VW’s answer to the newer dual-clutch automatic setups. And considering the Transporter’s size, it shifts surprisingly well.
It doesn’t move how you’d expect
When you press down on the pedal, it eggs you on for a bit more. Rather than lulling in power when you hit a certain level in revs, the turbo diesel carries through well.
Although it’s hitting nearly 150bhp – which is no dull power count – the Transporter’s acceleration feels like it’s punching a bit higher.
Granted, it wasn’t carrying anything other than me, but the power surplus will come in handy when you’ve filled the load space. And the automatic gearbox is equally as impressive.
The last thing you’d want when lumping a van-full of gear uphill is a ‘box that’s in a constant tossup over which gear it wants to be in. The Transporter’s gear changes, however, are quick and smooth.
VW vans and practicality go hand-in-hand
Volkswagen has most likely got a model to suit any use. If it’s a bit of everything that you’re after, the Transporter Kombi will want to be on your shortlist.
It’ll comfortably ferry a family of up to five about, whilst giving a more than decent wedge of space behind them. In Edition spec – with a few Sportline features added, in this case – it’ll appeal to many on style, as well as substance.
My tester was also fun to drive, and pretty nippy for a vehicle of its size. The 2.0-litre diesel’s pace will impress most, but if that still isn’t enough, some of the other variants have the option of a bi-turbo with another 50bhp.
Choosing which van to go for will never be a decision in black and white, but if you’re drawn to something that gives practicality in a sporty getup, the choice might be black and yellow.
Get more info on the Volkswagen Transporter models, or find a Lookers VW Van Centre at www.lookers.co.uk/volkswagen-vans/new-vans/transporter/