Transport union

Volkswagen’s Transporter van has won plaudits and awards in various guises over the years, so it seemed about time it got the Installer Test Drive treatment. Gary Squires excitedly put his name forward as the man to claim the keys.
The Volkswagen Transporter is one of those vans whose reputation precedes it, and I was looking forward to finding out whether it could live it up to the expectations. Initial inspection was certainly promising – the Transporter has got clean, fresh lines and a stylish yet uncluttered feel about it.
Volkswagen seem to have foregone the silly, eye-catching gadgets that often add very little on a daily basis and concentrated instead on the rather more important aspects – such as how the van performs.
On the road
As expected – and hoped – it drove really well. At times it was almost car-like in terms of response and performance. The steering is light at low speeds but firm and responsive when driving faster. Going around corners, it didn’t feel like you were driving a work van at all and, to be honest, if I had one of these, I’d probably end up using it more than my car as I found it more a rewarding experience.
In terms of speed, the van was perfectly acceptable. It could easily keep up with the traffic flow and overtake without any difficulty. It’s not as fast as some other vans that have been on test, but this van has been designed with a mixture of practicality and economy in mind. And it does both really well.
The brakes were very good and made stopping easy in all conditions and road surfaces. The handling was good too, and it seemed to positively enjoy taking the corners on country lanes. The other thing that was really noticeable was how light and crisp the gear change was, which further enhanced the driving experience.
I found it to be very easy to park – another essential for the jobbing installer. The combination of good views through both the windscreen and mirror – together with reversing sensors built into the radio to give a visual display – ensures that fitting into snug spaces is not a drama.
The stated fuel consumption is 44mpg (combined,) which is nearly what it was delivering during the test period. I think the van managed to average about 40mpg while I was driving it.
Inside story
I found this van to be really comfortable – easily a van I’d choose to do a long journey in. The air con/heater was excellent and all the controls were easy to reach.
There are height, lumbar, reach and rake adjustments on the driver’s seat, plus an adjustable steering column and a steering wheel that has controls on it for the entertainment system and phone.
As you would expect from Volkswagen, there has been a lot of thought put into the design of this van. Everything is just where you’d want it to be and it’s all built to a very high standard using quality materials. It’s easy to see why there are so many Volkswagen vans on the road with high mileages, and why I’ve heard such positive reports.
This van would be a great choice for any installer. It’s comfortable, looks great and will create the right impression with any customer – after all the van is the first thing they see. If you turn up in a beaten up, scruffy old van with the doors hanging off, you’re in danger of putting the homeowners off before you’re even through the door.
It’s easy to forget when driving around that the Transporter has been designed to be a work van. However, plenty of attention has been paid to the storage needs of an installer as there’s plenty of storage in the cab and the easy-to-access load area.
Overall impressions
There is certainly a lot to like about this van. Inside the cab everything is well laid out and when you’re driving, it’s easy to forget that it’s a van rather than a car. It feels solid and robust yet nimble and agile. Volkswagen has managed to make the Transporter feel like a really high quality option without being directed by adding on unnecessary gadgets – a mistake that is often made in other vans.
I’m finding it quite hard to find anything really bad about this van – there are a few small grumbles but that’s all. For example, there’s a bit too much road noise in the cab and the key fob doesn’t open the load area and cab separately. The only other thing is the price. This model starts at £1 8,770 plus on-the-road costs and VAT. That’s undoubtedly expensive compared to similar vans, but I feel that the added value makes the additional spend worthwhile.
To sum up, this is a great van. It’s comfortable, stylish and solidly built. The Transporter might seem slightly expensive to buy, but I’m confident that over the life of the van it will work out cheaper than some other less well built models.
Within the Transporter range, there are plenty of different options, allowing you to choose to make your van individual and tailor it to your needs perfectly. When it’s time for me to change my van again, I’ll definitely be taking a trip to the Volkswagen showroom to see what’s on offer.