The What Van? Road Test: Volkswagen Transporter

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2018   |   Author: Steve Banner


Interior and equipment

Light-grey seat fabric is not terribly practical in a hard-working van, but that is what we were faced with. We were also faced with the Transporter’s undoubtedly practical, but not terribly attractive, dashboard.

Happily there is no shortage of storage space.

For your money you get a lidded and lockable glovebox with two shelves above it and two next to it. You will also find cup-holders and cubbyholes at either extremity of the fascia, a shelf on top of it that accommodates a 12V power point (there is a second one in the front of the dashboard), another cubbyhole above the windscreen, and a holder for your sunglasses above the driver’s door.

Two bins are mounted on each of the doors, and the driver’s door plays host to a removable waste bin for all those sweet wrappers and empty bags of crisps – it’s a sensible feature that should help keep the three-seater cab’s interior tidy. The bin sits in a moulding that could be used as a bottle holder.

Side storage compartments are fitted to the seats.

Anybody sitting on the middle seat should find it acceptable for a short journey, but probably not for a long haul – the occupant’s right knee is against the bulge that accommodates the gear lever, and that bulge could stand to be padded with some soft trim.

Putting three seats into a comparatively narrow cab means that space is compromised in other ways. One consequence is that the handbrake lever and the driver’s seat are so close together that it is difficult to access the wheel used to adjust the seat’s lumbar support, even if you have, like the writer, fairly small hands.

It is far easier to adjust the seat for height, reach and rake, however, and the leather-trimmed steering wheel is height-adjustable too.

Driver and passenger airbags come as standard, as do electric windows and electrically-heated and -adjustable exterior mirrors, and grab handles on the A-pillars. So do a USB port and an aux-in socket, not to mention Bluetooth connectivity and an onboard computer.

The Volkswagen Transporter can be ordered in Startline and Trendline specifications. Go one rung above to the Highline spec and you will get climate control, a heated windscreen, leather trim for the steering wheel, gear knob and gaiter, and front fog lights with cornering lights. It also wins you a Thatcham Category 1-approved alarm and immobiliser with tow-away, perimeter and interior cab protection, not to mention 16-inch alloy wheels

Our demonstrator was fitted with optional heating for the driver and passenger seats plus a high-quality DAB radio.

An optional Discover Media satellite navigation system was fitted as was App-Connect. It allows you to operate certain apps by mirroring the screen of your smartphone on the radio system’s colour touchscreen display.

Volkswagen is well-known for being safety-conscious and the Transporter sports a wide variety of electronic systems – some that are legally required, many that are not – that should help prevent accidents.

The line-up includes ABS, Brake Assist, electronic stabilisation programme, electronic brakeforce distribution, Hill Hold Assist and Traction Control System.

Also installed is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, designed to prevent secondary impacts after a crash. That is in addition to  Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System – it warns the driver if it detects a hazard ahead and triggers the brakes if necessary – and an electronic diff lock.


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