The What Van? Road Test: Volkswagen Transporter

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

 Detail -engine

Engine and gearbox

Transversely mounted, the direct-injection TSI petrol engine comes with a variable turbine geometry turbocharger plus an intercooler.

Maximum power kicks in across a wide 3,750-6,000rpm plateau while top torque of 280Nm bites across an equally wide plateau of from 1,500-3,750rpm. In our case the engine was married to a six-speed manual gearbox.


Well, it’s quick – very quick, especially if you are lightly laden.

On a run from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire to the centre of Bath, which encompassed both the M5 and M4 motorways, we found we were up to the maximum motorway speed limit and way beyond almost before we realised it. Hence our earlier reference to the T30 TSI being a potential licence-loser.

The answer? Set the cruise control fitted to this van to a sensible speed and stick to it. It’s either that or install a speed-limiter.

In reality it’s probably not that much livelier than its 150hp diesel counterpart, but this model certainly feels a lot faster.

So how frugal is it? On the aforementioned run we averaged 27.8mpg. On other trips, primarily on rural roads, with more weight on board and travelling at lower average speeds, we were hard put to achieve 30mpg. That is despite the presence of a stop/start system, which can be switched off if needs be, and regenerative braking.

The equivalent 150hp diesel model can achieve 44.1mpg on the combined cycle according to official figures, which means its CO2 footprint is a lot smaller.

Noise levels are low, and the vehicle rides well, if a little firmly. The handling is sure-footed, but the gear-change could stand to be a touch smoother. It didn’t offer the slickness that we have enjoyed on other Volkswagen Transporters.

Once again the manufacturer’s build quality is top-notch: nothing squeaks, groans or rattles.

Returning to the ride, the front suspension on the 3,000mm-wheelbase Transporter features coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, while independent suspension with coil springs and load-sensitive shockers is fitted at the back.

Our test light commercial vehicle ran on 205/65 R16C Hankook Radial RA28E tyres. A full-size spare tyre sits under the cargo bed. The jack is in the load area next to the nearside wheel box.

Power-assisted steering delivers a 11.9m wall-to-wall turning circle.

Detail -wheel


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