Volkswagen launched the facelifted version of its sixth-generation Transporter in right-hand drive for the UK market at the beginning of 2020.
As a revised, rather than a new generation, model, the van is known as the T6.1 but the manufacturer has, nonetheless, made several significant additions to the Transporter 6 that came to market in 2016.
Among the updates are a switch from hydraulic to electro-mechanical power steering, following in the wake of the Transporter’s big brother, the Crafter, which VW says allows the introduction of a new range of driver assistance systems, including lane assist, park assist, side protection, rear traffic alert and trailer assist.
Also introduced is a road sign display function, while the new crosswind assist is standard with the panel van and Kombi.
Post-collision braking and hill-start assist are also standard. Inside the cab a 230V socket is a new addition by the driver’s seat.
The panel van and Kombi with bulkhead also feature a separate cargo space locking system, providing extra security by allowing the cargo compartment to be locked up independently from the cab.
VW has added a range of standard-fit features across the range, including electric windows, central locking, electrically adjustable heated wing mirrors, new H7 headlights, LED interior lights and a Composition Audio radio system with Bluetooth hands-free function.
Also new with the T6.1, which got the technology at the same time as the Passat and Golf passenger cars, is an integrated SIM card (eSIM), which opens up a range of online functions via the We Connect connectivity package, including the eCall emergency call system, breakdown call, service scheduling and parking position reminder.
The T6.1 line-up comprises 90hp and 110hp 2.0-litre engines wedded to a five-speed manual gearbox, a 150hp engine with a six-speed manual, and 150hp and 199hp drivetrains coupled with the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. All these engines are single-turbo apart from the twin-turbo 199hp version.
The T6.1 I have recently welcomed onto our long-term fleet is a Kombi T32 (designating a GVW of 3.2t) short-wheelbase, low-roof variant in the top Highline trim, which now sits above only the entry-level Startline following the removal of the mid-level Trendline. Startline customers can, however, choose upgrades with the optional Business Pack.
Power comes from the 150hp engine wedded to the enduringly superb seven-speed DSG semi-automatic transmission. This set-up is ideally suited to the enhanced adaptive cruise control on the T6.1 that comes as standard on Highline grade. It can be set to maintain distances of up to 120m from the vehicle ahead on motorways by adjusting speed accordingly and, when twinned with DSG, can bring the T6.1 to a standstill. It can also detect hazardous situations and trigger emergency braking at speeds of up to 18mph.
The beauty of crew vans is their ability to carry both people and things and one of the first tasks I assigned to the Kombi was to deliver a family of five and lots of camping necessities to a field in Gloucestershire.
The second row of seats, which is removable, inevitably compromises load space, but the 4.3m3 available is surprisingly accommodating and there is useful extra space beneath the rear seats and also, in our van, between the driver’s and passenger’s seats in the front.
The Kombi can also be specified with a twin bench passenger seat up front if there’s a need to carry six people.
If you need to carry heavy loads, the payload is a generous 1,143kg.
Access to the load bay is via a rear tailgate. The walls and floor are well protected with lining but the wheel arches are left exposed to minor scratches and scrapes from cargo that may move in transit. Passengers enter the rear seats by a nearside sliding door.
Report card: Load carrying = 4/5
For a SWB crew van the T6.1 Kombi offers a generous payload and a decent amount of space
Volkswagen Transporter Kombi T32 SWB Highline 2.0 TDI 150
Mileage 452 miles
Official combined fuel economy (WLTP) 34.0mpg
Our average consumption 24.3mpg
Price range (ex VAT) £33,475
Price (ex VAT) £22,115-£39,380
Service intervals 21,000mls
Load length 1,600mm
Load width (min/max) 1,244/1,627mm
Load bay height 1,397mm
Gross payload 1,143kg
Load volume 4.3m3
Engine size/power 1,968cc/150hp
Gearbox 7-spd DSG
CO2 (WLTP max/min)176-159g/km
Options (prices ex VAT)
Discover Media Navigation £1,338
Heated front seats £130
Rear-view camera £235
Metallic paint £610