When it comes to automobiles the frustrated cerebral time traveller need go no farther than the VW Transporter. The T Series vans, like countless Dr Who, carry more than half a century of light commercial vehicle development.
With worldwide sales of more than twelve million vehicles in that time, the latest range bears little resemblance to the original vans, which were not much better than a bulky metal box on wheels. Now, thanks to things like computerisation and a focus on occupational health and safety, the light commercial vehicle workplace is a far more welcoming and relaxed area.
With the latest Transporters, there are still two basic categories – out-and-out commercial vehicles (van, crew-van, single-cab and dual-cab) and the passenger carriers (Multivan and Caravelle) designed for work and private use.
Two wheelbases and three roof heights, the latter available in van and crew-van only, add to versatility and flexibility. The improvements extend to a new generation of turbo-diesel engines launched with the introduction of the latest T series.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has also integrated an array of intelligent assistance systems in the new Transporter, plus new interior features, including the latest technology and infotainment systems. A host of optional packages can also add value, convenience, assistance and luxury.
We spent a week testing a Multivan TDI340 Comfortline long-wheelbase with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, selling for $53,990, plus on-road costs.
While the Multivan has more or less kept up with commercial vehicle design trends its shape is limited by its function, offering as much space as possible, with easy access. This is even more important considering its application as a people mover.
Hence the slab-sided shape, allowing sliding doors on both flanks to open wide to allow access to three rows of seats. The front section, has a low apron that rises almost vertically.
Side-on the Multivan is characterised by lowered door mirrors incorporating turn indicators. Newly designed 17-inch Devonport alloy wheels with 235/55 R17 103H tyres and to the style.
With three rows of seats, depending on trim level, there are two rotatable individual seats in the middle row of the VW Multivan. Both are anchored to the floor in tracks, on which they can be independently snapped into position, turned around or easily moved on rollers.
This makes for a comfortable face-to-face position to the rear reclining bench seat, or a relaxed seating position with lots of knee room facing forward. Anyone needing a large cargo space in the middle or back of the Multivan simply pushes the seats behind each other.
Storage pockets and drinkholders are scattered throughout the vehicle for the convenience of occupants, while the driver can take advantage of an innovative layout, quality materials and attention to detail.
Multi-Function Display (MFD Plus) unite includes trip time, trip length, average and current speed, average and current fuel consumption, display until empty and ambient temperature, digital clock, vehicle status, audio, telephone and navigation (if fitted) menus.
A 6.3-inch colour touch screen display with proximity sensor controls AM/FM radio, CD player (MP3/WMA compatible), SD card slot, external AUX and USB inputs, and eight speakers.
A Car Menu with convenience and service settings includes display for park distance control and air-conditioning systems, while connectivity is via App-Connect USB interface for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink in front centre console.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The test vehicle had the benefit of VW’s new design 2.0-litre TDI340 turbo-diesel engine (not a variant of the one in the emissions cheating scandal). It is mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, and puts out maximum power of 103 kW at 3500 rpm and maximum torque of 340 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm.
To meet emissions standard a selective catalytic reduction converter is added to the exhaust system, electively converting nitrogen oxide gas into nitrogen and water, with no formation of any unwanted by-products. Injection of the AdBlue is done automatically. This isn’t unusual in commercial vehicles, but private users may have to become accustomed to it. The AdBlue tank is refilled after around 7000 km by the customer or an authorised workshop, independently from the service intervals.
Safety features include airbag for driver and front passenger, plus side/head airbags for driver and front passenger. A multi-collision brake system operates with Forward Collision Warning and ‘Front Assist’ with City Emergency Braking.
That’s on top of an Electronic Stabilisation Program, ABS Anti-lock Braking System with Brake Assist, Traction Control, Electronic Differential Lock and Hill-hold.
Driver Alert is a fatigue detection system. Rear park distance control makes use of a reversing camera.
Even with a load up at full engine capacity, the Multivan impressed with driving dynamics and stability.
Excellent body rigidity and advanced engine technology brought extra advantages such as minimum noise, vibration and harshness to the table.
Thanks to BlueMotion and engine stop / start technology, in a busy stretch over a range of driving conditions, ‘our’ Muiltivan clocked up fuel consumption of eight or so litres per 100 kilometres.
The instrument panel is clear with easy-to-read instruments.
A long wheelbase anything can be a handful to park, something I found out to my cost with the LWB Multivan.
When all is said and done this is a commercial van. In a nighttime bid to squeeze the van into a tight(ish) badly lit parking spot at a train station, I failed to swing wide enough to line up the rear quarter of the van and made contact with a parked vehicle.
Nothing much to fix but a great inconvenience to two drivers. Apart from that the Multivan gave little cause for concern throughout my time behind the wheel. It wore the Comfortline tag . . . well, with comfort.
Although of the same generation as Dr Who, the VW T6 Multivan is no Tardis. However, as commercial vehicles go, it is from a vastly different era to the original austere machines, providing a technologically advanced and comfortable workplace.
AT A GLANCE
VW Multivan Comfortline TDI340 7 Spd DSG: $49,990
VW Multivan LWB Comfortline TDI340 7 Spd DSG: $53,990
VW Multivan Highline TDI450 7 Spd DSG; $76,490
VW Multivan Highline TDI450 7 Spd DSG. 4MOTION: $79,990
VW Multivan LWB Executive TDI450 7 Spd DSG: $80,490
VW Multivan Generation Six TDI450 7 Spd DSG: $74,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volkswagen dealer for drive-away prices.
Airbag for driver and front passenger
Side/head airbags for driver and front passenger
Forward Collision Warning ‘Front Assist’ with City Emergency Braking Front
Electronic Stabilisation Program
Anti-lock Braking System with Brake Assist, Traction Control, Electronic Differential Lock, Hill hold control
Driver Alert (Fatigue Detection System)
Rear park distance control
Dual halogen headlights, daytime running lights
Central locking system with remote control and interior release mechanism
Sliding door, left, in passenger compartment Sliding door, right, in passenger compartment. Lifting tailgate with window
17in Devonport alloy wheels, 235/55 R17 103H rf tyres, steel spare
Multi-Function Display (MFD Plus) – trip time, trip length, average and current speed, average and current fuel consumption, display until empty and ambient temperature, digital clock, vehicle status, audio, telephone and navigation (if fitted) menus
6.3in colour touch screen display with proximity sensor, AM/FM radio, CD player (MP3/WMA compatible), SD card slot, external AUX and USB inputs, and eight speakers.
Car menu with convenience and service settings. Includes display for park distance control and air-conditioning systems.
App-Connect USB interface for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink in front centre console
SPECIFICATIONS technology) (Volkswagen Multivan LWB Comfortline 2.0 TDI340 7 Sp DSG with BlueMotion
Capacity: 1.968 litres
Configuration: Four-cylinder inline turbocharged direct injection diesel with engine Start/Stop system
Maximum power: 103 kW @ 3500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 340 Nm @ 1750-2500
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: N/A
DRIVELINE: 7 Speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with sport mode and Tiptronic function. Includes coasting feature. Front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5304 mm
Wheelbase: 3400 mm
Width: 1904 mm
Height: 1990 mm
Turning Circle: 13.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 2238 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 km