Since it was launched for the first time in 1950 the Volkswagen Transporter range was considered a benchmark in its segment. The newest generation was launched in 2010 and continues to be among the best vans available on today’s market.
The previous model was commercialized between 2003 and 2009 and despite its old age it managed to hold its value well on the used market, being among the most wanted vehicle in this class.
Since its inception, the Transporter range was continuously improved and the 2003 generation was bigger, more powerful and more comfortable than its predecessor. The Volkswagen Transporter goes head to head with models like the Ford Transit or Opel Vivaro and it’s offered with a choice of two diesels which develop between 85 hp and 174 hp.
During its long life, the Transporter received only minimum exterior upgrades and the overall designs of the latest generations look pretty similar.
While other manufacturers have decided to break up the monotony of their vans, Volkswagen remained on its conservative design and changed only a few key elements to improve a bit the look of its rugged Transporter.
Despite its dull appearance however, the previous model was treated with a huge amount of respect thanks to its reliability and functionality.
The vehicle is equipped with twin rear doors, two sliding side doors and a low sill for ease of loading. Access inside the cab is made through wide opening doors and once inside, the driver is surrounded by a generous glass area which offers a proper all around visibility.
The Volkswagen Transporter is available with a choice of three roof heights and two wheelbases. There were also two gross vehicle weights on offer, namely the 2500 kg and 3000 kg models with payload capacities ranging from 834 kg to 1297 kg and load volume between 5.8 to 9.3 cubic metres.
While the exterior style looked pretty rugged the interior was airy and refreshing. Needless to say that the cabin offers plenty of room and up front there is enough space to seat a driver and two passengers in full comfort.
The overall design aged pretty nice and doesn’t look as dated as other vehicles in this class. We also like to see that the Transporter features the same build quality found in Volkswagen’s passenger cars and the materials and plastics are surprisingly good, given the utilitarian nature of the vehicle.
Everything inside looks well put together and even the switches and buttons have a nice solid feel. To leave the floor clean and to offer more space for the occupants, the gearlever was mounted directly into the dash. It’s also worth to be mentioned that the dash mounted gear knob doesn’t affect the middle passenger’s leg room, like it’s the case with other vehicle in this segment.
The center console features a clean layout and all controls are easy to reach. We also like the clear instrument panel which can be easy read even during night missions.
The seats are among the best you’ll find in this class, and come with decent back and under thigh support. Moreover, you’ll find enough adjustments to help you find an excellent driving position. A proper road visibility is assured by a panoramic windscreen, big lateral windows and plate sized door mirrors.
The four spoke steering wheel has a pretty modern design and offers a confident grab being among the most ergonomic units you’ll find around.
You won’t complain about storage either and the Transporter also comes pretty well kitted with goodies like air conditioning, ABS and driver airbags. Passenger airbag, twin side airbags and two curtain airbags are also offered as optional features.
Engines and performance
The previous generation Volkswagen Transporter was offered with two direct injection units namely the 1.9 TDI with 85 hp and 104 hp and the 2.5 TDI which develops 130 hp and 174 hp.
Regardless of what engine option you’ll choose you won’t be disappointed as both units deliver proper performances and a sharp acceleration even when the van is fully loaded. The 2.5 liter however will stand out from the crowd as it can move the vehicle effortless and it’s also pretty refined. Keep your foot plated on the go pedal and the 174 hp version will hit a top speed of 107 mph. which is more than enough for the needs of commercial transportation.
Versions equipped with the 4MOTION all wheel drive system get a six speed gearbox and there is also a semiautomatic Tiptronic transmission on offer.
Volkswagen Transporter Engines Specifications
|Engine||hp @ rpm||nm@rpm|
|2.5 TDI||174 @ 3500||400@ 2000|
|2.5 TDI||130 @ 3500||340 @ 2000|
|1.9 TDI||85 @ 3500||200 @ 2000|
|1.9 TDI||104 @ 2000||240 @ 2000|
Ride and handling
At the front, the Volkswagen Transporter is equipped with McPherson struts while at the back it gets coils spring suspensions. As it was designed to transport heavy loads, don’t expect to a charming ride experience. Though compared to other vehicles, the Transporter offers a better balance between comfort and stability.
As we are talking about a tall commercial van, some body roll is present, but it won’t affect the vehicle’s handling abilities which inspire enough confidence to make you feel safe behind the wheel even during more aggressive cornering.
The Volkswagen Transporter had always represented a good package and despite the fact that you’ll need to pay slightly more for it, you’ll be rewarded with a good values for the money.
The build quality, materials and the German engineering work in Transporter’s favor and at its time, had anything it needed to occupy a top position in the panel van segment.
The cabin was faultless and there were also plenty of body styles, heights and wheelbases which made it fairly versatile and perfectly suited for a wide range of commercial applications. Moreover, the engines were fairly strong and efficient too.