Volkswagen has revealed the latest update to its Transporter people mover, which includes greatly improved connectivity, a revised interior and more safety and assistance features.

The facelifted T6.1 model signals the changes for the new panel van that will be launched later this year, with an entirely new front end design. The grille has been significantly englarged to increase airflow for the new Euro-6d-Temp engine, while the appearance has been altered with a new crossbar that tapers into the narrower headlight design.

Head of design, Albert Kirzinger says the van model will get larger light clusters, but the distinctive appearance will be carried over to create a “very unique look that will be easily identifiable as the new T6 from a long distance away”.

New assistance systems including Cross Wind Assist and Lane Assist, which are made possible thanks to the new electromechanical steering system which revolutionised the Volkswagen Crafter and is now installed in the Transporter.

In addition, automatic parking is now possible with the option of Park Assist as well as Trailer Assist, which allows a small trailer to be easily controlled through the use of the wing mirror controller that doubles as a small joystick for the direction of the trailer while reversing. The side protection system from the Crafter has also been adapted for the T6.1 with ultrasonic sensors surrounding the perimeter, while Rear Traffic Alert has been added to prevent collisions occurring when reversing out of a parking space.

Other improvements include a new digital instrument cluster as well as the latest generation of Volkswagen’s infotainment system. The Digital Cockpit forms part of the MIB3 system and is the latest iteration of the modular platform used across the Volkswagen Group. The T6.1 is currently only the second vehicle to receive it after the Volkswagen Passat. Owner’s can customise what information they wish to see on the display, from traditional speed and rev counters to phonebooks or media connection details.

The display is standard equipment on the Highline versions of the vehicle, so it is therefore unlikely to appear on anything but the highest level of vans, and even then only as an option. Like many of its competitors, there’s also an integrated SIM card (eSIM) for constant online connectivity. This enables music streaming as well as emergency call functions in the event of an accident.

In the centre of the dash console a new screen with choices of 8-inch or 9.2-inch options has been incorporated to handle infotainment and navigation needs.

Connectivity plays an important part in the T6.1 with the eSIM being used for a number of online services called Volkswagen We and new voice command. Your normal speech is compared to an online database of instructions to give the vehicle commands like navigation requests. In addition, the T6.1 now supports improved smartphone connections with wireless Apple CarPlay over Bluetooth. There’s also wireless charging thanks to a new inductive charging area in the dashboard console.

Practical elements remain the same with dimensions as well as the rear of the vehicle completely unchanged, while power comes from a reconfigured 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. Four power output levels will be available with 89hp, 108hp, 147hp and 196hp engines and the possibility of combining DSG transmisisons and 4Motion all-wheel-drive drivelines.

As previously announced, the Transporter will also be available with a pure electric drivetrain. A partnership with ABT, announced at the IAA in Hannover in September 2018 will see the T6.1 get an 82 kW motor (equivalent to 111hp) with the option of two battery capacities, either 38.8 kWh or 77.6 kWh. The smaller battery will allow a claimed range of up to 216km on the NEDC cycle while with the larger pack more than 430km can be driven.