VW Transporter still king of the load
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A LONG WAY FROM THE KOMBI, BUT HERITAGE STILL COUNTS
It's easy to disconnect the modern-day Volkswagen Transporter with the Type 2 Kombi of old.
Although take out the familiar rickety bedframe, gas hob and Formica table of the highly regarded campervan and you have, in essence, the same workhorse that was once upon a time a common sight in every loading dock between Dusseldorf and Dunedin.
Naturally things have progressed a bit within that familiar blueprint. The sixth-generation Transporter is a fleet-footed example of the modern cargo van, replete with all the power, comfort and convenience features you'd associate with an Amarok.
The top level short-wheelbase Transporter features a full-fat 132kW/400Nm turbo diesel, but there are other options.
There is also a four-cylinder turbo diesel tuned for 103kW and 340Nm, while both six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes are available.
You can have your Transporter as a standard, medium or high-roof model and in either short or long wheelbase format, too, and you can also still get a Transporter cab with a flat drop-side tray on the back as either a single or double-cab, the tray measuring between 2539mm and 2939mm in length.
Back to the vans, Transporter 4Motion models distinguish themselves by being the only four-wheel drive vans in their class, with Volkswagen's proven 4Motion all-wheel drive system augmented by a Haldex clutch. The Transporter also features all the passive and active safety gear you could hope for; electronic stability control, anti-lock braking, an electronically-locking front diff, a hill-hold assist function and daytime running lights.
Access to the back is easy enough through the sliding doors on the sides and a lifting tailgate at the rear. Load compartment length measures in at 2572mm (or 2975mm in the long-wheelbase models).
There's a variance of 530mm between the internal height of the standard roof and the high roof models, although you can get the high-roof option only if you go for a long-wheelbase Transporter. The van features a 2500kg braked tow rating across the board.
It's a good-looking thing too, with a "family face" grille familiar to all modern Volkswagens, lots of brightwork and the option of stepping up to 16" or 17' alloy wheels from the standard steel wheels.
Also optional is an uprated suspension system with heavy duty stabiliser bars front and rear.
Up front, the cab feels bright and airy, with plenty of outward vision and comfortable seats. This is a new cockpit for the sixth-generation van and features things such as cruise control, a reversing camera, a multi-function leather-clad steering wheel and Bluetooth audio streaming and phone connectivity as standard.
There is plenty of competition in the delivery/cargo van segments these days, especially from European brands with a long history of commercial vehicle manufacture.
Not many have longer histories than Volkswagen though. Even though the Transporter is about as far removed from its split-window, barn-door, seat-over-engine Kombi roots as possible, that heritage does still count for a lot.
VOLKSWAGEN TRANSPORTER SWB 4MOTION
ENGINE: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol diesel (132kW, 400Nm)