Car reviews - Volkswagen - Kombi - 4-dr people-mover
6 Jun 2006
VOLKSWAGEN is sexing up its boxy T5 Transporter with its lifestyle-orientated Kombi Beach.
Aimed at the dual-use (work and weekend play) end of the van market, the three-pronged range was released last week with prices ranging from $54,990 to $58,990.
Confusingly, the Kombi Beach is really a Multivan Beach, since it uses the latter’s people-mover-based body instead of the T5 Transporter van-derived Kombi shell.
This explains why the Beach is the only Kombi available with a variation of the Multivan’s multi-configurable seating arrangement, courtesy of moulded rails built into the cabin’s floor and sides.
These allow the installation of a removable two-seater rear bench that slides, swivels and turns into a 2.3-metre by 1.7-metre bed, as well as a sliding and detachable table and storage bags.
The Kombi Beach’s front compartment’s seats also swivel (to 180 degrees), a removable folding table and chairs, a rear heater and an extra battery are included, while a "Good Night Package" made up of curtains and elastic covers is also available.
Tinted and insulated side glass – with open-sliding windows on each side sliding door – is another upshot of using the more expensive Multivan body.
Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) rallied for the Kombi name to precede Beach despite initial insistence from Germany that the Multivan moniker be used instead.
VGA believed that Australians would better respond to the classic Kombi surfer van image forged by this vehicle’s 1950s, 1960s and 1970s progenitors (T1 and T2 generation Transporter models).
Unlike the old Kombis, the Beach is a diesel-only proposition.
A Euro III emissions meeting 2.5-litre, five-cylinder, turbo-diesel TDI unit, developing 96kW of power at 3500rpm and 340Nm of torque at 2000rpm, is fitted transversely beneath the Kombi Beach’s snub bonnet.
It drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual or Aisin-built six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox.
In the 4Motion model all four wheels can be driven via a second-generation Haldex part-time all-wheel drive system mated solely to the six-speed manual gearbox.
Average fuel consumption figures range from 8.5L/100km to 9.4L/100km for the 4Motion model, top speed is about 166km/h, and the front-wheel drive manual version takes 15.3 seconds to reach 100km/h.
All Kombi Beaches come with anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, dual front airbags, traction with Volkswagen’s anti-slip control program and three-point lap-sash seatbelts for all four seats.
Front-side and curtain airbags, and stability control (from late this year) are optional.
Also included are air-conditioning, power windows, electric mirrors, a trip computer, an alarm with interior motion sensors, 100kg-rated roof-mounting points, CD/radio audio and an upholstered storage box (for bed preparation).
Like all T5 Transporters, the Kombi Beach is built in Hanover in Germany, but was designed by a special department that is responsible for the Multivan-based California motor home model (which includes a kitchen and raised roof) due at the end of the year.
With Australia among the first markets in the world to market the T5 Beach concept, VGA has allocated 100 units for 2006, to test the waters.
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