If a new van is on your agenda then the Volkswagen Transporter is a must-drive proposition.
Volkswagen passenger cars might not be to everyone’s taste, but their commercial vehicles always have a reassuring solid feel about them.
They’re also extremely practical and easy to work/live with.
I had the keys to the 2018 Volkswagen Transporter with all-wheel drive and the most powerful turbo-diesel in the range.
My test vehicle was also fitted with the optional raised roof height – a great addition for applications that require standing in the cargo area for periods of time.
You can also get slightly larger loads into the rear of the vehicle with the lifted-up roof.
One of the key considerations when weighing up a new van is the access into the cargo area, here you would be very well served.
The twin sliding doors are huge and the wide rear tailgate also gives heaps of space for loads of all sizes and shapes.
The Volkswagen Transporter has the advantages of a rather box like shape, that means it doesn’t really taper in at the top like some of the competition.
So, if it fits at the bottom it will fit up higher in the vehicle too (a key consideration when stacking loads like archive boxes).
Something that is well worth considering, especially if you might ever be loading pallets into the Transporter, are the optional rear barn doors. These will set you back $510 but make the van that little bit more adaptable.
The only downside to switching from the typical tailgate to barn doors is that the tailgate will give you some shelter from the rain!
The 2018 Volkswagen Transporter has quite a low, and very flat, floor and that makes getting in and out via the rear doors an easy operation.
My test vehicle also had the optional electric side door operation.
Operated by way of well-positioned buttons on the dashboard, or the key fob, the self-opening/closing doors make loading and unloading even easier/quicker and are also worth considering in my opinion.
The thick rubber mat on the floor is also an option, but is well worth having to both protect the van floor and help keep road noise out.
Up in the drivers cab you will find very comfortable seats that have adjustable ‘Captains chair’ type armrests.
The dashboard is very reminiscent of the Volkswagen passenger cars of today, not a bad thing, and is certainly a lot nicer than what was presented to drivers and passengers in vans in the distant past.
There’s good legroom, a decent sound system, and really excellent storage areas and nooks.
All up, you’d be more than happy to have a long road trip in the Transporter of today.
Oh, and if you want three seats instead of just two, a front bench seat is an extra $510.
What’s it like to drive?
I actually used to drive a Volkswagen Transporter every day when I was working as a delivery driver, that vehicle would have been around a 1997 model and I remember it well.
I remember it drove really well (after previously using Ford Econovan/Mitsubishi Express) and had a nice five-speed manual transmission.
Today’s Transporter still feels somewhat similar to how I remember the 1990’s version, albeit it a lot more refined.
It doesn’t struggle for any extra go (albeit my test drive was with an empty vehicle), has really good brakes, nice steering and a better than expected ride.
Perhaps the stand-out feature though is the quietness of the cab – you can put this, and the good ride, down to the engine forward design of the Volkswagen.
There is very little comparison that can be drawn between a traditional van like a Toyota HiAce where you’re sitting on top of the engine, the Transporter lay-out is far superior and safer too.
While the fuel economy recorded was around 9.5L/100km.
- Easy to drive
- Easy to get in and out of
- Solid feel
- On-road manners
- Wide selection of different variants
Not So Good Bits
- Optional extras list
- No digital radio
- A pillar visibility
As I said, any business looking for a van should consider the Volkswagen Transporter.
There’s a solid and reassuring feel about the Volkswagen, clever and comfort cab and refined manners make it a good platform for multiple different applications.
The standard features are adequate, just be mindful that the sticker price might become a distant memory when you start ticking a few options boxes.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Volkswagen Transporter
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 75kW/250Nm, 103kW/340Nm, or 132kW/400Nm, or 2.0 litre twin-turbo producing 150kW/450Nm (as tested)
- Transmission: Five-speed manual (only in TDI250 variant), six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG auto
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $36,890