But quality at an affordable cost is, on its own, no longer quite enough in the current market. Hence the need for the T6 sixth generation Transporter model.
A smarter look points to the provision of much smarter Euro6 diesel engine-ware beneath the bonnet, along with a whole range of electronic gadgetry borrowed from the brand’s latest passenger car development. Yet the no-nonsense design has managed to remain simple, effective and well suited to the needs of buyers in the medium range market segment. In other words, everything’s changed but nothing is different. Exactly as you would expect from a Volkswagen.
All Transporter vans use a 2. 0-litre TDI diesel unit that in Euro6 form puts out either 84, 102, 150 or 204PS. Go for the two more powerful variants and there’s the option of Volkswagen’s super-smooth 7-speed DSG auto gearbox and the brand’s 4MOTION 4WD system. On the move, all variants of this model are impressively refined by class standards, the TDI units getting gruff only when pushed, something which isn’t necessary provided you keep in the heart of the rather narrow power band. Complementing all this is a smooth ride which avoids the kind of over-soft bounciness that afflicts many similar vans, especially over typically broken urban surfaces, and the steering’s light for easy town use, while being precise enough for reasonable feel at speed.
The sixth generation T6 Transporter model looks a more modern proposition, with crisp, horizontal lines complemented by angular headlamps that include distinctive daytime running lights on top variants.
And at the wheel? Well you’ll look in vain for soft-touch surfaces, but then you wouldn’t expect that kind of thing on a van. Despite this, the T6 Transporter model continues to offer the smartest-feeling interior in the segment, courtesy of a completely redesigned cabin that aims to deliver in terms of both style and functionality.
Focus on the dashboard and the first thing you notice is the ‘Composition’ colour infotainment touchscreen, fitted just above the ventilation controls above the gearstick. As standard, the set-up comes with the 5. 0-inch display, but you can upgrade it to 6. 33-inches in size if you want more features and a useful proximity sensor that reacts as your finger gets close to the required graphic. Whatever your choice of screen, you get features like Bluetooth and a DAB radio as standard across the range, plus the chance to create what in effect would be all the ingredients for mobile office technology.
Time to check out the practicality of the Transporter. Though the lifting tailgate that you get on passenger carrying versions of the van is available as a glazed or unglazed option, the asymmetrically-split rear doors that come as standard will suit most businesses.
Inside, the wide, boxy area is illuminated by two interior lights, and a third is included with the high roof bodystyle. You get a completely level cargo floor with a loadspace length of 2,572mm in the short wheelbase version, a figure you could increase to 2,975mm if you were to go for the long wheelbase bodystyle – enough for the carriage of three euro pallets.
Whatever your choice of wheelbase, there’s a loading width of 1,700mm, narrowing to 1,244mm between the wheelarches – still enough to take a euro pallet lengthwise. That’s enough to enable the carriage of an 8x4 sheet, even in the short wheelbase model. The interior roof height is 1,410mm on the low roof model, but there’s lots of flexibility in increasing that thanks to the fact that Volkswagen offers a total of three roof height options - other vans in this segment usually offer only two.
Size-wise then, most of what you want to carry will probably fit – but what about weight? Well, payloads are very similar to what they were before, ranging from 658kg to 1,331kg, depending on your choice of Gross Vehicle Weights – there are 2,600, 2,800, 3,000 and 3,200Kg options.
Want to load in from the side? Well, there’s a standard sliding door on the left-hand side of the vehicle with another available for the other side as an option.
All right, so it’s practical. But how will running costs add up? Well, let’s see. The 102PS Euro6 variant that around 75% of drivers in this country tend to choose manages 47. 9mpg on the combined cycle and 153g/km of CO2.
As every business knows, the cheapest option isn’t always the most cost-effective one. In the medium-sized Mercedes Vito and Vivaro-class van sector, the Transporter is a perfect example of that. There are certainly cheaper alternatives, but few of them can match the Volkswagen’s build quality or its residual values.
It all means that, like the vehicle itself, the Volkswagen’s market proposition remains as solid as ever.