Transporting with the Transporter
GAVIN MYERS puts Volkswagen’s Transporter Crew Bus through one of our most thorough reviews yet.
Not very often do I get to put a light vehicle to the test so thoroughly that it could be considered actual work. The primary precluding factor: most commercial vehicles must carry some sort of load to be thoroughly evaluated. Working for a magazine (and not a transport entity) makes regularly finding such a load tricky. Seats and seatbelts make people movers the exception …
So I certainly got lucky when the delivery, to our offices, of a long-wheelbase (LWB) Volkswagen T5 Transporter Crew Bus coincided with my moving house. The Crew Bus attempts to be all things to all people. It has five comfortable, spacious seats and a separate load area. I could move the household contents, load in everyone lending a helping hand and put the vehicle through, possibly, the most thorough FOCUS LCV review yet.
The passenger and load compartments are separated by a sturdy metal cage bulkhead, secured with six sets of nuts and bolts. Out it had to go; it’s possible for one person to do. Removal and installation would definitely be easier and less cumbersome, however, if it were fixed by a series of latches instead.
A simple pull of a strap unlatched the rear passenger bench seat so it could be to be tipped forward and removed.
We were now close to the maximum 6 700 litre load volume (up from 4 800 litres). Incidentally, the load compartment measures
2 000 x 1 692 x 1 394 mm (1 244 mm between wheel arches); gross vehicle mass is 3 000 kg, gross combination mass is 5 300 kg and payload is 925 kg.
Loading and unloading through the two side sliding doors and standard rear tailgate was an easy affair. For commercial applications, though, the fitment of the optional side-opening rear doors (at R3 700) would be better suited and more convenient.
The vehicle’s floor is padded rubber throughout – fantastic to prevent damage to property – and six lashing points are fitted. The front passenger compartment features numerous stowage spaces including double door pockets and a paper tray on the dashboard.
Our test vehicle was fitted with Volkswagen’s superb 132 kW, 400 Nm four-cylinder turbodiesel motor, à-la BiTDI Amarok. This sweet, smooth and powerful motor provides sustained urge throughout the rev range (max torque is produced between 1 500 and 2 000 r/min) and didn’t raise a sweat moving the multiple loads. VW claims fuel consuption of 8,2 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 217 g/km.
It is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission, our version also sporting VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive. The stretched wheelbase and traction from the 4Motion system ensures the vehicle is stable and surefooted. It rides exceptionally comfortably, too.
Visibility and manoeuvrability are very good for a vehicle this size (rear park distance control is another option
The Transporter is fitted with an impressive array of safety features including: daytime running lights; dual front airbags; ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and EBC (Engine Brake Control); ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) with Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist; and traction control.
At R478 900, with a two-year/unlimited km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty, it is a bit more expensive than rivals like the new Toyota Quantum Crew Cab, but on par with the Mercedes-Benz Vito. (Watch out for a similar competitor from Ford, expected around the time you read this.)
So, following a couple of days of thorough transportation work, how did the Transporter fare? It’s large, well spec’d, comfortable, and has a fantastic engine. Our main gripe is the cumbersome bulkhead and, locally, the 4Motion system really is superfluous. Nonetheless, it performed faultlessly.