Volkswagen Transporter Review logo

Volkswagen Transporter Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2015
      Body type
      Van
      Fuel type
      Diesel, Petrol, EV
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Most car-like medium van”

Best bits

  • Refined and car-like driving experience
  • Excellent cabin with high-quality materials and kit
  • Lots of safety kit

Not so great

  • Not the biggest payload in the class
  • Poor legroom in the driving seat
  • USB-C sockets limit the number of devices that can be plugged in, for now

Read by

Volkswagen Transporter Front Side View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen Transporter Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Transporter Front View

Driving

Volkswagen Transporter Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Transporter Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Volkswagen Transporter’s combination of practicality and posh cabin make it much more car-like to drive and sit in than vans of the past, and the present."

Volkswagen Transporter Front Side View

The fundamentals of the Transporter haven’t changed to a great degree over the last couple of updates. The progression from T5 to T6 to T6.1 – the most recent facelift – has been steady, but has resulted in a thoroughly modern and desirable van nonetheless.


There are many elements that are familiar to those who have spent any time with the Volkswagen car range of late, with the engines, technology and various materials all reminiscent of the passenger models.


The engine range is wide in its offering. The two newest 2.0-litre TDI engines are the two base models in the T6.1 – a 90PS and a 110PS version. The top two versions are a 150PS and a Biturbo 199PS, both of which featured in the T6 and in several Volkswagen passenger car models. For a brief period there were petrol engines on offer, but the two 2.0-litre TSI units were discontinued due to a lack of sales, so a rare used model is your only option if you want one of those. There is even an electric version on the way, with a claimed range of 82 miles.


In terms of gearboxes, the lower powered engines get a five-speed manual while the higher end versions get a sixth gear. There is also a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which is optional on the 150PS diesel and the only transmission offered on the most powerful 199PS diesel.


The passenger-car comparisons don’t end with the engines, as the cabin is one of the most car-like of any van on the market, certainly on the higher end models. The dashboard was updated in 2019 and the changes brought about a smart infotainment screen and improved materials. 


The interior isn’t perfect, though. It’s less intuitive than the equivalents in vans such as the Vauxhall Vivaro and storage is a weak point versus the Ford Transit Custom. It will also be a bit too modern for some users’ liking – the USB sockets are USB-C, which won’t recharge many current or older mobile phones. Space in the cabin is decent for passengers, but the lack of space for the driver to rest their left foot in the footwell is irritating.


The most important element of the Transporter’s practicality, the rear loading space, is one part that hasn’t been updated in the most recent facelift. There are plenty of different bodystyles on offer, including a short and long wheelbase and two roof heights. There’s also a kombi model with five seats, and people carrier and campervan models, although none of these come with the higher roof option. The basic panel van offers space for three Euro pallets, a maximum payload of just over 1300kg, a 9.3m3 maximum loading space and a maximum load length of 2.97m and a 2500kg trailer weight.


When it comes to trim levels, things are relatively simple, with a more basic Startline and a more luxurious Highline. The most crucial addition to the equipment list at the most recent update was a new electromechanical steering system. 


This doesn’t make a drastic difference to how the van steers and handles, but it enables the fitment of a new range of safety kit, including active lane assist, park assist and a trailer assist system that helps steer a trailer while you are reversing. Other new safety kit, including a side protection system that warns if you are getting too close to items on either side of the van, has also been added.


The steering update maintains the Transporter’s position as arguably the most car-like van to drive in its category. It’s cut out a lot of the effort needed to move the wheels at lower speeds, making parking easier, while it still retains a degree of resistance at higher speeds so it remains stable. The suspension is adept at keeping the ride comfortable and deals well with sharp bumps. Rivals might have the edge in payload terms, but the Transporter has many beaten for its ride, comfort and usability.

Is the Volkswagen Transporter T6 right for you?

The Transporter is likely to appeal to those who are after a van that is more than a pure tool. The comfortable cabin, high level of equipment, excellent technology and refined drive mean that it will appeal to small businesses that want a smart working vehicle with some creature comforts.


It doesn’t offer the biggest out-and-out payload or load-carrying capacity in its class though – the likes of the Transit Custom and Renault Trafic offer more if you simply want to cram as much in the loading bay as possible – but it has enough in the way of versions that it will still beat many when it comes to the practicality element.


It’s not quite a car, but it is the medium van that goes the furthest towards providing a car-like experience. That technology will take the stress out of driving a van for those that are not used to driving a commercial vehicle, too.

What's the best Volkswagen Transporter T6 model/engine to choose?

The Transporter T6.1’s strength is in its comfort and cabin, which only really shines on the higher trim level. The Highline trim comes with adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, climatic air conditioning and automatic headlights.


The best engines are the two middle ones – the 110PS and 150PS – with your choice coming down to what kind of driving you are going to do. Those who are going to spend more time around town, or carrying lighter loads, will be more than happy with the lower powered version. However, the extra power and performance of the 150PS will help with bigger payloads and the sixth gear will make sitting on the motorway much more relaxing.

What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen Transporter T6.1?

The big competitor in the medium-van sector is the Ford Transit Custom, which is one of the few other vans to offer a similarly wide range of body shapes and sizes. It is also one of the few that provides an interior that close to the Volkswagen’s, although it doesn’t match the quality of cabin on the top models and the level of tech.


For all-out payload, the Fiat Talento and Renault Trafic are worth looking at, too. 


If electric is what you’re after, then Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall and Toyota will all have a battery powered version in the Transporter’s class before long.

Learn more

Volkswagen Transporter Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Transporter Front View

Driving

Volkswagen Transporter Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Transporter Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification