Volkswagen Transporter Van Review

Volkswagen Transporter Van Review
By Kieran Reid.

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The model reviewed is the VW LWB 3000 140bhp 6speed Double Rear Doors.

First introduced in 1950, the Volkswagen van is a permanent fixture on Irish roads and has earned a reputation as a reliable workhorse, serving its owners well and helping keep their businesses mobile. Indeed, the first commercial vehicle I drove when I started my working life was a Volkswagen pickup, a Bay Window Type 2 model in 1979. It was brand new at the time but the new Type 3 came out a few months later, which I did not like at all, and I was quite happy to drive the van I had all day long. It is funny what sticks in your mind about certain vans you had over the years, and the one incident I remember as if it happened yesterday, probably as a result of a lesson well learned, occurred on a day when we were exceptionally busy with a lot of deliveries and collections all required urgently. I had made a delivery to a building site that required lowering the two sides and the tailgate so the goods could be removed by the forklift, and as this was being done I hopped into the drivers seat ready for the off as soon as I was unloaded. I got the thumbs up and pulled away, with the sides still lowered, which was not a problem. As I made my way back to the workshop to collect the next load, I noticed a few times that the drivers following me were honking their horns, but I did not pay much attention until I went to turn right into our premises and I got blew off the road again. Typically, the boss just happened to be standing in the yard at that time and looked to see what all the commotion was about. I, of course, pleaded all innocence and said I hadn’t a clue what was going on, which I genuinely didn’t, until the boss brought me to the back of the pickup and showed me the lowered tailgate which was completely obscuring the rear indicators and brake lights. Lesson learned, that never happened again. So it was with fond memories I took to the wheel of the new revised version of the Volkswagen van to see how it is in its modern guise.

Just to make things clear, the model we reviewed is the long wheelbase, normal height model with double barn type rear doors with the 140 bhp engine and a six-speed gearbox. This is the most popular version of the Transporter sold in Ireland, and when you receive the pricelist with all the various versions on it, you are looking at a total of 75 different types. Needless to say, if you are considering buying a Transporter you will need to talk to your local Volkswagen Commercial dealer to ascertain what version will suit you best.
The new Volkswagen Transporter received a facelift for 2010 as the original model change was in 2003 and advances in new safety and environmental technology had warranted the need to move with the times and keep the Transporter at the upper end of the market. Although body shape or style has not changed dramatically, mainly due to keeping with the T5 chassis and name, there has been a big change upfront and mainly under the bonnet. Gone are the 1.9litre and 2.5 litre diesel engines and in their place are an all-new line-up of 2.0 common-rail diesel engines, which are more powerful, economical, and environmentally friendly, thanks to being equipped with diesel particulate filters and as a result now comply with Euro 5 emission limits. The engine in our test van is the 2.0 litre 140bhp (or 103kw) TDI, which is an extremely responsive and powerful power plant more than able to carry the maximum permissible load that is in the 1100kg to 1200kg region. Mated to a 6-speed gearbox, the van was never found wanting at any stage, and handled fast acceleration while overtaking, climbing hills and motorway cruising with ease while doing so in the correct gear to ensure economical driving.

The cabin has also received a bit of a makeover with the radio being upgraded to include a single CD player and mp3 connections as standard. Electric front windows and mirrors, which are now heated, and a new heating arrangement which includes climatic air conditioning all add to the drivers comfort. The drivers seat has received extra padding, and coupled with adjustments for lumbar support, height, rake, and reach it gives good support to ensure a comfortable ride. The two seater passenger bench seat base can be lifted up and forward to reveal a cavernous storage box ideal for keeping valuables out of sight or holding rain gear or tools. While on the subject of keeping valuables out of sight, I thought the positioning of the mp3 connection plugs in the glovebox was a neat touch as it removes the need to unplug and conceal them when leaving the vehicle. There is good storage space as well, with both upper and lower pockets in the doors capable of holding 1.5 litre bottles and an unusual option, which would appeal to a lot of people, is a portable waste bin that is tailored to fit here as well. A large lockable glovebox, a dash top tray with a simple clip for holding receipts, a mesh net suitable for maps or brochures, a pocket overhead ideal for holding the sunglasses and a pop out double drinks holder which also incorporates an ashtray ensures everything stays neat and tidy and close to hand. The steering wheel, which is height and rake adjustable and a nice design, allows a clear view of the instruments that are now a clearer white on black arrangement, and the gear lever is well positioned in the centre of the dash. Driver and passenger airbags are standard, and overall the cabin is comfortable, pleasant and roomy.

Moving to the business end of the van, entry can be gained through either the sliding side door, which gives an opening of 1020mm wide by 1284mm high, or the rear double doors, with an opening of 1486mm wide by 1305mm high that can be opened through 180˚ to allow full access, particularly when loading with a forklift. The load compartment area is 6.7cu/m, with the overall length being 2970mm, the width is 1692mm and 1244mm between the wheelarches, and the height is 1410mm. The height from the ground to the floor of the van is 571mm, not too high for loading heavy cargo. There are 10 hooks to help secure the load for safe transportation, and the lower panels of the sides are protected somewhat by a light hardboard material. The van can safely tow a 2500kg braked trailer.

The Transporter has also received improvements on the safety front, apart from the driver and passenger airbags, and especially with driver assistance systems. Now standard are Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stabilisation Programme that includes hill holder, ABS and Brake Assist, and Electronic Differential Lock that works in conjunction with the ABS to apply traction control to the driven wheels. There are a host of other optional safety features that can be specified at the time of ordering, but they were not on our test van.

The Volkswagen Transporter returned an average 8l/100km or 35 mpg, which is good for this size of van. There is no set service intervals for the Transporter, suffice to say a display on the dash will tell you when a service is required but it can be up to 40,000 km or 24 months. Volkswagen offer a two year unlimited mileage warranty, a three year paint warranty, a twelve year body protection warranty and a two year recovery and breakdown assistance service. A worthy contender in the panel van market, this model is priced at €28,385.