The range of Volkswagen Transporter light vehicles comes from Volkswagen’s T Platform, which has been a mainstay in the commercial car market for more than 60 years. As a cargo mover, the Volkswagen Transporter is powerful and built to be a workhorse. After five generations, the Transporter vehicles continue to add new technology and performance features to remain competitive in the light commercial vehicle market.
Dubbed the T4, the first Volkswagen officially designated as a Volkswagen Transporter was released in 1990 internationally. It was brought here in 1995 and had a production run that lasted until 2004. This vehicle was a major upgrade to Volkswagen’s line of vans, featuring a water-cooled engine with all-wheel drive.
The most recent Transporter is the T5, which was first seen locally in 2004. The Transporter underwent a significant refresh in 2010 that added a host of safety features, new technology, and powerful engines, as well as some attractive exterior adjustments. From the 2L turbodiesel engines to technology like DSG and 4Motion all-wheel drive, the new Transporter continues to be a trailblazer for cargo movers. It’s a testament to Volkswagen’s attention to detail that the T platform has only had five generations over more than half a century of production.
Volkswagen engineers have always been exceptional, and it shows in the performance of the Volkswagen Transporter. It’s important for a vehicle like the Transporter to haul cargo and people without hesitation or difficulty, and the Transporter is up to the task. Prior to the 2010 refresh, the T5 Transporter range featured two 2L, 4-cylinder turbo diesel engines. One had specs of 103kW of power and torque of 340Nm at 1750rpm, while the other had 132kW of power and 400Nm of torque at only 1500rpm. The fuel consumption was exceptional as well, with 10.7L/100km on the high-roof long-wheelbase Transporter. In other versions of the Transporter, it was even better, with the 6-speed manual transmission version boasting 7.4L/100km.
The Transporter gets a lot of its excellent performance from Volkswagen’s innovative twin-clutch DSG transmission, along with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system with a Haldex coupling. Transmissions include the much-hyped automatic 7-speed DSG gearbox for an extra surge of performance on heavy loads. The newest T5 Transporter range comes with three engine options, including a base of 75kW and 250Nm, a mid-range of 103kW and 370Nm, and a top-end with 132kW and 400Nm.
The Volkswagen Transporter is often compared to a passenger car in terms of its standard equipment and ride quality. All the Transporter models offer a variety of wheelbase and engine options. The newest 2010 and later Transporter models come standard with a few nice luxuries, including air-conditioning, heated power wing mirrors, front power windows, a trip computer, and an AM/FM compact disc tuner.
While standard luxuries aren’t extensive, the newest models do come with some good safety features. They offer electronic stability control, ABS, traction control, and electronic brakeforce distribution. Also important is the inclusion of dual front airbags, with options for side airbags as well. Previous models didn’t have standard airbags, which is something to keep in mind.
The Volkswagen Transporter comes with a wide variety of technological gizmos as options, including touchscreen navigation, cornering lights, a rear camera, a monitor for tyre pressure, and a blind spot warning system that’s welcome on a cargo mover. Other options include a sunroof, dusk-sensing headlamps, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Transporter has enough amenities to make it an enticing choice for cargo van buyers looking for luxury.
Recent T5 Transporters also boast a four-star ANCAP crash safety rating.
Few vehicle models have had the staying power of the Volkswagen Transporter. Whether a prospective owner is looking to haul passengers or a heavy payload, the Transporter makes it easy to get the job done. It’s important to note that the vehicle’s most advanced new features, such as the DSG transmission and the 4Motion all-wheel drive, drive up the price considerably. Even so, the top-of-the-range T5 is actually the volume seller, accounting for 48 per cent of all Transporter sales.
The Transporter is designed for professionals or tradesmen who need performance out of their cargo movers. Compared to competitors like Hyundai iLoad, Toyota HiAce, and Mercedes-Benz Vito, the Transporter tends to be outmatched in terms of safety features, but with quality performance and equipment, the Volkswagen Transporter is still a very strong contender in the cargo mover segment.