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Driven: VW T6 Transporter smartens up

Dual purpose: The new Volkswagen T6 range has arrived in Australia, priced from $36,990 to $80,490, plus on-road costs.

Improved value, safety and efficiency boost VW’s T6 van and people-movers

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Volkswagen logo17 Dec 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

VOLKSWAGEN has reskinned its long-lived Transporter range, bringing lower prices, an improved and more car-like cabin, new advanced driver safety tech, and additional variants into the fold.

For now the all diesel-powered T6 starts from $36,990 plus on-road costs for the TDI340 SWB (short wheelbase) manual, which is $1700 less than its immediate predecessor, and extends to $49,090 for the TDI400 LWB (long wheelbase) with a dual-clutch DSG auto and 4Motion all-wheel drive.

An entry-level TDI250 Runner surfaces in early in 2016, with the yet-to-be-confirmed pricing expected to match the preceding version’s $31,990 driveaway mark.

On the people-mover front, the seven-seater Multivan TDI340 SWB DSG and nine-seater Caravelle TDI340 LWB DSG kick off from $49,990 apiece – the latter listed at $700 less than the outgoing version – topping out at a cool $80,490 in salubrious new LWB Executive TDI450 DSG guise – a luxury tilt at the hire-car and hotel-run markets.

About 80 of the Generation Six launch editions at $74,990 have also landed, brandishing special two-tone paint, Alcantara trim, 18-inch disc alloys, LED headlights, power sliding doors, adaptive cruise control and more.

As far as facelifts go, the T6’s is subtle indeed, but the headlights, grille, and bumpers are different, as are the tailgate sheetmetal and tail-lights. Essentially the T6 is a heavily modified version of the T5 series launched a dozen years ago, but that was revamped in 2010.

With 14 two-seater Vans in regular, medium, and high-roof configurations, four Cab Chassis models (one Single three-seater, three Double six-seaters), two Crewvan five-seater wagons, six seven-seater Multivan (six-seater Executive flagship excepted), and a single nine-seater Caravelle bus, Volkswagen says it has the largest number of body styles and variants in the Transporter’s class.

Some of the more powerful models also offer a Haldex Gen-V 4Motion all-wheel drive system in lieu of the regular front-wheel drive.

The T6’s wheelbases are identical to the preceding version (3000mm/SWB and 3400mm/LWB), with their corresponding lengths being 4890mm and 5304mm respectively. Customisation is key, with the various shapes and sizes meaning there’s between 5.8 and 9.3 square metres of cargo space in the Transporter High Roof LWB. The Multivan sits 20mm lower to the ground than the van.

As with the preceding model, all Australian-spec versions employ variations of the 2.0-litre common-rail direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit. Idle-stop is now standard across the range, resulting in consumption cuts of up to half a litre per 100km.

The TDI340 produces 103kW of power at 3500rpm and 340Nm of torque from 1750-2500rpm the TDI400 ups that to 132kW at 4000rpm and 400Nm from 1500-2000rpm, while the Multivan’s headline TDI450 BiTurbo with low-and-high pressure turbos delivers a 150kW at 4000rpm and 450Nm from just 1400-2400rpm.

Transmission choices are as before – six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch DSG with sport mode and Tiptronic function. The combined average fuel figures vary between 6.5L/100km (TDI450) to 7.7L/100km (TDI340) in vans, and 7.2-8.2L/100km in the Cab Chassis.

Next year’s TDI250 Runner Van is expected to pump out about 75kW and 250Nm.

Like before, the front end features MacPherson struts and coil springs while the rear uses semi-trailing arms with coils and an anti-roll bar. The steering system is hydraulically powered rack and pinion, with a 11.9m turning circle in the SWB van (LWB: 13.2m).

Brakes are 308mm discs up front (TDI400/450: 340mm) and 294mm in the rear.

Van payloads vary between 1014-1236kg (low roof), and 1172-1281kg for the Chassis, with the latter’s 202mm ground clearance some 20mm shy of the vans.

The big news inside is the redesigned dashboard, bringing with it Volkswagen’s latest multimedia touchscreen (in two sizes) with apps connectivity, allowing a reversing camera to be offered.

Furthermore, there is an improved layout and better storage solutions. In the people-mover versions, a more car-like presentation and finish is offered in right-hand-drive for the first time, greatly boosting the appeal of the Comfortline and Executive.

On the safety front, Multi-Collision Brake (which prevents additional impacts after an accident), Fatigue Detection (with a cup of coffee icon warning in the instrumentation), and four airbags are standard, while an optional Driver Assist package brings blind-spot monitoring, auto headlights/wipers, foglights with cornering capability, and power folding mirrors, among other items. Autonomous Emergency Braking (known as City EB in VW-speak) is only available on the Highline.

Every model comes with a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a driver’s seat height and lumbar adjuster, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, touchscreen multimedia, air-conditioning, remote central locking, power windows, and cruise control, while a rubber floor is included in the Crewvan.

The Caravelle nine-seater arrives in single-spec TDI340 DSG guise, and though it is cheaper than before, it offers tri-zone climate control, a reversing camera, and rear sensors.

Key options across the van range include a reversing camera, driver’s side sliding door, twin-barn rather than tailgate rear door, 17-inch alloys, fixed or sliding side windows, a front bench seat, rear air-con unit, rubber or wooden flooring, hardboard side panels and Heavy-Duty and Rough Road suspension packages.

Also available is more comprehensive multimedia with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, additional armrests and 12V sockets and Load Platform package, while the Multivan can be specified with adaptive chassis (with electronically adjustable dampers offering comfort, normal, and sport modes), sunroof, insulted box, booster seats, sat-nav, blind-spot monitoring, electric sliding doors, 18-inch alloys, and even a Good Night Package with a full-sized mattress and blackout curtains for all windows.

No Euro NCAP crash-test result is available, but the preceding T5 managed four out of five stars in 2013. Similar results were revealed by ANCAP in 2008.

Year-to-date results in the VFACTS 2.5t-3.5t van/chassis class puts the old Transporter in third place with 1221 sales for a 7.8 per cent market share, well behind the Toyota HiAce (6762/43.3 per cent) and Hyundai iLoad (4259/27.2 per cent), but ahead of the newer (though manual only) Ford Transit (949/6.1 per cent), Mercedes-Benz Vito (909/5.8 per cent), and also manual-only Renault Trafic (894/5.7 per cent).

With the Europeans all recently revamped, sales are up 6.4 per cent overall for the segment.

Depending on model, Australian-bound T6s are built in Germany or Poland.

2016 Volkswagen T6 Transporter pricing*
Van
TDI250 Runner TBA
TDI340 SWB $36,990
TDI340 SWB (a) $39,990
TDI400 SWB $40,590
TDI400 SWB 4MOTION $44,090
TDI400 SWB (a) $43,590
TDI400 SWB 4MOTION (a) $47,090
TDI340 LWB $38,990
TDI340 LWB (a) $41,990
TDI400 LWB $42,590
TDI400 LWB 4MOTION $46,090
TDI400 LWB (a) $45,590
TDI400 LWB 4MOTION (a) $49,090
TDI340 SWB Crewvan (a) $43,490
TDI340 LWB Crewvan (a) $45,490
Chassis
TDI340 LWB Single Cab (a) $44,690
TDI400 LWB Dual Cab $45,290
TDI400 LWB Dual Cab 4MOTION $48,790
TDI400 LWB Dual Cab (a) $48,290
Multivan
Comfortline TDI340 (a) $49,990
LWB Comfortline TDI340 (a) $53,990
Highline TDI450 (a) $76,490
Highline TDI450 4MOTION (a) $79,990
LWB Executive TDI450 (a) $80,490
Generation Six TDI450 (a) $74,990
Caravelle
TDI340 LWB (a) $49,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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