January 26, 2020

New Transporter piles on the tech

VW has revised its Transporter with new engines – and a focus on technology. Dan Gilkes reports.

Volkswagen’s has updated Transporter with Euro 6d Temp rated engines, the adoption of electro-hydraulic power steering and the availability of a host of safety and driver assistance systems. This focus on technology has led the company to dub the revised van T6.1, rather than making the leap to an all new T7 model.

In line with emissions legislation, the 2.0-litre diesel engine that powers all Transporter models has been brought up to Euro 6d Temp standard. It is offered with 90hp, 110hp, 150hp or in bi-turbo form, with 199hp. There are five and six-speed manual gearboxes, or the choice a seven-speed DSG on the 150hp engine. The 199hp motor gets the DSG box as standard. Buyers can also choose 4Motion all-wheel drive, on the 150hp and 199hp models.

Petrol engines, reintroduced a couple of years ago, will no longer be offered on the van in the UK, as there was little demand from buyers. However, as already announced, there will be a full electric version of the van by the first half of 2020.

Chiselled look

As with VW’s cars, the vans get a more chiselled look around the grille and the lights, with high-intensity H7 twin-halogen headlights and LED rear lights now standard. The front bumper has also been redesigned. Inside, the dash has been updated, with a similarly angular look, though this has eaten slightly into passenger leg-room, for those with longer limbs.

The infotainment technology also borrows heavily from the company’s cars, with a choice of 8 or 9.2-inch touchscreens in the centre of the dash. Higher trim level versions of the Caravelle people carrier can also be had with VW’s Digital Cockpit, which can be reconfigured to suit the driver’s tastes. All Transporters now have a built-in SIM card, opening up the availability of a range of online services such as VW’s WeConnect and eCall.

The vans are unchanged at the working end, though Volkswagen has now included a load-through facility in the bulkhead. This allows an additional 400mm under the passenger seat for longer items, extending the maximum load length to 2.8m on short wheelbase models and 3.3m for the longer wheelbase. A high roof is still available on the longer models.

Essential to the fitting of many advanced driver assistance systems is a new electro-mechanical steering set-up, which offers light but accurate steering. Crosswind Assist is now standard, along with Front Assist with city emergency braking. There are nine new technologies on offer including Lane Assist, Rear Traffic Alert, Traffic Signal Recognition and Park Assist.

Trendline dropped

Volkswagen is making it easier to choose your Transporter though, dropping the Trendline trim, to offer just Startline, Highline and Sportline models, though Sportline won’t be immediately available at launch. Also, Startline trim will be only offered on the T26 model in short wheelbase, along with T28, T30 and T32 models in short or long wheelbases. The T26 model will not be available in the higher trim levels.

Prices are expected to start at £21,635 for the Startline T26, rising to £36,915 for a T32 Highline with the 199hp engine, DSG and 4Motion driveline. Full pricing and data will be available when the order books open in November, with customer deliveries expected by March 2020.

Pulling power

VanUser had the chance to try a range of the vans, with all of the engine outputs, at a test drive in Holland. Even the 90hp model has more than enough pulling power for urban use and it coped well with higher speed work on motorways too, despite having only five forward gears. Move up to the 110hp engine and it was hard to tell any difference. Both of the lower powered models are impressively refined and quiet.

There is a bigger step to the 150hp engine, plus you get another forward gear in the manual gearbox. Likely to be a popular choice with anyone who needs to cover the miles, this motor offers a strong 340Nm of torque across a broad 1,500-3,000rpm band, making it easy to cover the ground without needing to stir the gearbox.

Of course, 199hp makes for the easiest drive, particularly with the standard DSG transmissions. Unsurprisingly, this is the most relaxing Transporter of all, offering effortless overtaking ability combined with whisper quiet urban use.

The cab interior looks fresh and the new screen and controls are crystal clear and easy to use. It’s a shame that the Digital Cockpit isn’t offered on the van, as it is a huge step forward. In all then, a successful update, though easy to see why VW didn’t want to call it a completely new T7 model. We’ll have a to wait a few more years for that one.