Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles recorded its best UK half-year sales performance in the six months to 30 June with its most popular model, the Transporter, leading the charge with registrations up 8% year-on- year to 10,371 units.
The brand recently introduced the greenest-ever version of its famous medium van with an updated Transporter Bluemotion. Powered by VW’s 114hp 2.0- litre common-rail TDI engine,
the model carries a price tag of £19,245 (all prices exclude VAT).
The Transporter Bluemotion, which is available only as a panel van, has official fuel consumption on the combined cycle of 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 153g/km, representing a 3.9mpg improvement in fuel economy and 13g/km reduction in emissions compared with the previous Bluemotion model. It also beats the figures released for the Ford Transit Custom of 46.3mpg and 162g/km.
VW says the revised van can cover 850 miles on a single tank of fuel, not a claim we put to the test while running the brand’s eco flagship around south London and north Kent, although we were impressed by the efficiency of its fuel-saving devices such as stop-start, a gear shift indicator and cruise control.
As well as these, the manufacturer has achieved the improved economic performance through modifying the engine management system and transmission, using low rolling- resistance tyres and battery regeneration systems.
But VW has not sacrificed too much in the way of comfort and equipment on the altar of economy, and you still get electric windows plus electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, for example.
Standard features include a driver’s seat with height, lumbar, reach and rake adjustment, and
a height and rake-adjustable steering column, which both help to make finding the best driving position a simple task.
ESP with hill-start assist comes as standard as part of a comprehensive package of safety equipment that also includes driver and passenger airbags with passenger airbag deactivation facility, height-adjustable head restraints, and daytime running lights. A tyre pressure warning light serves as an aid to economy as well as safety. The Bluemotion gets a manually controlled heating system with a dust and pollen filter to make life more comfortable for hay fever sufferers, but energy- taxing air-conditioning is not included and will require a hefty outlay of £785 to have fitted.
The 5.8m3 loadspace is reached via a nearside sliding door as well as through unglazed rear wing doors. It was fitted with a protective rubber floor covering for £130 and full-height hardboard load side-lining for £215. Disappointingly, there was no bulkhead to serve as a barrier for occupants against ill-secured loads entering from the cargo box, or to act as a sound proofer to reduce the sometimes intrusive noise levels. A steel bulkhead can be added for £165, however.
The load bay is slightly smaller than the SWB Ford Transit Custom Econetic’s 6.0m3, and the Bluemotion’s modest 871kg payload falls well short of the 1098kg offered by the greenest derivative of the new Ford.
In terms of drive and handling, the Bluemotion keeps up the high standards set by the Transporter range overall. The gearshift is crisp and sharp, not far removed from that of VW’s passenger cars, and the short gear stick is positioned sensibly on the dashboard to allow easy movement across the cab. For motorway journeys, however, a sixth gear would not go amiss. The cab contains a lockable glove box with a USB port inside it and double door bins – the bottom ones being very deep – but there is no overhead shelf, and a glasses’ case holder is all you get above eye level.
All in all, the cabin environment is functional and user-friendly, as is Volkswagen’s wont, rather than a delight for design fetishists.
This LCV's impressive economy combines with excellent driving characteristics but load-carrying capability falls a little short of the competition.