This month, Vic Oliver goes a little smaller than usual, road-testing the Volkswagen Crafter 2.0 TDI 80 kW High Roof Panel Van.
The Volkswagen Crafter 50, which is fitted with the new Volkswagen common rail TDI diesel engine, is an amazing vehicle with a good, well balanced power-to-mass ratio. It’s also very driver friendly: with excellent driver visibility and exceptional low noise level, it is a pleasure to drive this world-class vehicle.
The modern Volkswagen common-rail diesel engine, which produces 300 Nm between 1 500 and 2 250 r/min, is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. On the road, the driver immediately senses that the engine and transmission are very well matched, enabling the driver to drive the vehicle within the limits of the maximum torque band, resulting in good fuel consumption.
Although the gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of the vehicle requires the driver to have a Code 10 (C1-class) driving licence plus a professional driving permit, the vehicle is extremely easy and safe to drive.
To test this large panel van, the vehicle was driven from the Volkswagen premises in Midrand on a circular route – heading out towards Hartbeespoort Dam on the R511, and returning on the R512 via Lanseria Airport.
The route is harsh on a vehicle, with some steep gradients and roads that are in a very poor state. Added to this, on the day of the test the roads were congested with slow-moving heavy-vehicle traffic. Despite these tough operating conditions the (unladen) vehicle achieved good fuel consumption of 8,4 l/100 km or 11,88 km/litre. This is good considering that, with its high roof height, the vehicle has a large frontal area which increases air resistance.
This is a big integral panel van sporting a 14 000-litre load volume to the roof. The vehicle is fitted with two wide-opening sliding doors on both sides to accommodate side loading.
Large double rear doors that can be opened to 180 or 270 degrees are fitted, allowing for dock loading. This makes the vehicle suitable for a variety of applications, and presents a solution to many transport problems.
It is clear that the vehicle has been designed as a true workhorse – it’s able to carry a legal payload of 2 392 kg, and can tow a trailer with a combined payload and trailer tare mass of 2 000 kg.
It must be noted that if the trailer has a GVM rating exceeding 750 kg, the trailer must be equipped with over-run brakes and a hand brake. However, if the vehicle is continually loaded to its full payload capacity and required to pull a trailer, I would recommend that the Volkswagen 50 2.0 BiTDI 120 kW be selected.
The design and high class safety specification of the Volkswagen Crafter makes it ideal for conversion into a bus or ambulance.
Good safety and security features have been built into the vehicle, including:
• Driver and passenger airbags
• Seat belts for the driver and two passengers
• A first aid kit and warning triangles
• Wheel chock
• Remote control central locking, and
• Unbreakable steering lock
For added safety and reducing the risk of vehicle accidents, the vehicle is equipped with the latest braking and stability technology, including ABS (anti-lock-braking) plus EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and ESP (electronic stability programme).
Buying a vehicle from a world-renowned vehicle manufacturer like Volkswagen South Africa, and with a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty, gives any potential buyer complete peace of mind. Service intervals are at every 20 000 km for vehicles operating under normal route and road conditions. These stretched service intervals allow the operator to maximise vehicle uptime, thereby lowering vehicle lifetime costs. The Volkswagen Crafter is a sure winner.