For operators who require a generous payload allowance but need to prioritise carrying people rather than bulky loads, and still have a load volume that is respectable, then VW’s Transporter Kombi could be the answer.
It’s a good fit for businesses needing to get a team of workers to a site. It comes in five- (tested here) or six-seat configurations and an extra row of three removable seats can be fitted in the back if only minimal cargo space is required.
The sophistication and comfort of the Kombi, however, mean that it is particularly well suited for use as a working van during the week that can double up as a family vehicle for evenings and weekends.
Driven here is the T32 short-wheelbase in Highline trim. Power comes from a 150hp 2.0 TDI engine wedded to VW’s dual-clutch seven-speed DSG transmission. This system has been around for a while now but still delivers impressively slick and quick changes. Performance is good with maximum power on tap between 3,250rpm and 3,750rpm and maximum torque of 340Nm coming at between 1,500rpm and 3,000rpm.
The Kombi is as at home making swift progress in the outside lane of motorways as it is in providing a civilised and relaxing environment for urban journeys.
The revised Transporter range, which is coming to market next year, will feature the electromechanical power steering the brand has already introduced on the large Crafter van, but in the meantime we had no complaints about the hydraulically assisted set-up currently employed, which offers reassuring feedback and control to the driver.
The front-wheel drive Kombi features a McPherson-type strut front suspension and independent rear suspension with coil springs and load-sensitive shock absorbers. This combination results in decent ride quality and comfort whether lightly loaded or when the 5.8m3 load volume and 1,098kg payload are pushed closer to their limits.
Eight lashing rings are fitted to help keep loads secure.
The sober functionality of VW’s styling is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Kombi is a tidy-looking van and on the inside all the controls and switches are well laid out and within easy reach, plus there is lots of storage space. Build quality is up to VW’s customary high standard, which helps to prevent interior noise levels becoming intrusive.
Highline specification is reasonably comprehensive and includes 16in alloys, body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles, aircon, cruise control, leather finishing and lumbar support for both driver and front passenger. The 5in touchscreen is a little small and the standard-issue rear parking sensors make the optional addition of front and rear parking aids for £279 (all prices exclude VAT) seem superfluous.
Other extras include Discover Media navigation (£908), heated front seats (£259), the Comfort dash with wide centre console and bottle compartment (£403), carpet flooring (£82), and metallic paint (£557).
Volkswagen Transporter Kombi T32 SWB Highline 2.0TDI 150 DSG
Price (ex VAT) £31,845
Price range (ex VAT) £23,880-£44,160
Insurance group 36E
Service intervals 21,000mls
Load length 2,572mm
Load width (min/max) 1,244/1,627mm
Load bay height 1,397mm
Gross payload 1,098kg
Load volume 5.8m3
Engine size/power cc/150hp
Combined fuel economy 45.6mpg
Versatile, refined addition to the high-class Transporter line-up for those needing to carry people plus loads.