Volkswagen's Transporter T6 panel van continues to be a quality and cost-effective offering in the medium range LCV sector thanks to a wide range of common-rail diesel engines and a tangible boost to its safety specification. The interior remains one of the most polished in the panel van class and the wide range of body options should keep most operators happy.
The Transporter engine range consists of four 2.0-litre TDI Euro6 engines with outputs of 84PS, 102PS, 150PS and 204PS. All 84PS and 102PS engines are fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with 150PS and 204PS units equipped with either a six-speed transmission as standard or a seven-speed DSG automatic.
So far so good, but what's it actually like to drive? Well 'quietly efficient' probably sums it up. The 'quiet' bit's significant: Volkswagen reckons that drivers used to rival vans will find this one to be much quieter, which'll make a lot of difference after a hard day at the wheel. And efficient? Well, let me put forward the braking system as an example. It features ABS of course, with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Electronic Braking Control to maximise its effectiveness and as soon as you use it in anger, the brake lights flash rapidly to alert following vehicles. Once you've screeched to a stop, the hazard warning lights come on automatically. Neat.
The Transporter's traditionally precise handling remains, with plenty of feedback through the redesigned steering, a slick gearchange and a Germanically firm but by no means unpleasant ride. It's manoeuvrable too, for such a big vehicle.
The current Transporter looks a sharper proposition than its T5 predecessor - but not by much. In keeping with tradition, this T6 model offers a range of body options and gross vehicle weights to suit the needs of all operators and drivers. In addition to three roof height options; standard (1,410 mm), medium (1,635mm) and high (1,940mm), this Volkswagen is available with four gross vehicle weights (ranging from 2,600kg to 3,200kg) along with short and long wheelbase options.
At the wheel, there are the expected driver and passenger airbags, plus a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel. Sliding across the three-seater cabin is slightly impeded by the way that the gear lever is mounted on a moulding that curves out from the dashboard, but the location does make it easy to use. A design touch we weren't sure about was the way the more aerodynamic outside mirrors house the radio, 'phone and GPS antennae: bashing them, as van drivers tend to do, would be expensive.
Still, there are plenty of more thoughtful design features dotted around the cab. Each door, for example, incorporates both upper and lower storage bins, the lower one able to accommodate both a 1.5-litre bottle and an A4 clipboard. On the passenger side, there's a storage box under the seat and, on the side of the facia, a net to hold documents. Pull out the ashtray and you'll find cupholders for your McDonalds breakfast on both sides and there's a shelf for your sunglasses above the windscreen.
Volkswagen has piled some desirable technology features into its current Transporter panel van. The advanced safety systems should be well received but it's the common-rail diesel engines that will really get customers going. On performance, refinement and economy, these units are difficult to top. Better still, the rest of the Transporter looks as solid as ever.Click here to find out more about our Volkswagen Transporter range