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Volkswagen T6 Caravelle and Kombi

24.11.2015

SINCE it was first driven out of the factory in Uitenhage in 1955, the Volkswagen Kombi has seen much success here in South Africa. Now in its sixth generation, Volkswagen states that it has improved on the car’s safety features, comfort levels as well as its driving dynamics. I got behind the wheel to see if all these improvements have really made the T6 a segment leader.

What is it?

Well, it’s essentially a minibus. Over the years, the Volkswagen bus has been driven by hippies, moms, dads, hotel chauffeurs, paramedics and many DIY handymen. Volkswagen claims the T6 is more of an improved T5 with its cleaner lines, enhanced infotainment systems and new drivetrain options.

Cool to be square       

Most new minibuses on the market tend to have some curves - not the Volkswagen T6. VW has kept to its design heritage with this one and continues to do wonders with straight lines. The front end of the T6 does look rather good and it has definitely been given more of the current family DNA. The entire body has the appearance of being all one piece, as if milled from a solid block. The rear features stylish new taillights and other subtle design elements.

A van for every man, or woman

The T6 is offered in about 25 different variants across the range. Customers have a choice between the Transporter, a 10-seater Crew Bus, a single or double cab pick-up, the Kombi (in both SWB and LWB guise) and then the top of the range Caravelle. For those looking for added grip, the Caravelle can be ordered with 4Motion AWD.

It’s nice inside

Inside, eagle-eyed customers will notice a newly designed dashboard, a familiar steering wheel from other models and a new infotainment system (which varies depending on which one you take). There are also many new and clever storage compartments for convenience. On the Caravelle, the dashboard features piano black inserts which give it a classy feel. 

I had the opportunity to drive and be driven in the Caravelle Highline. The standout feature on this specific model has to be the two seats in the second row. They can swivel 360 degrees, giving passengers the ability to face backwards to the third, newly designed row of seats. Add a pop-up table into the centre and not only can customers conduct business meetings while on the move, the kids will be able to play board games or eat lunch without messing all over the place. Volkswagen has also kept the gap between the two front seats for easy access to the rear. This is a win in the eyes of parents.

What are the engines like?

Volkswagen has kept the engines from the T5, except they now feature new transmission combinations. The line-up consists of a 2.0-litre TDI and a 2.0-litre BiTDI engine. The power output for these motors range from 75kW to 132kW. The Transporter pick-up and panel van are offered with the 75kW and 132kW engines. The Transporter Crew Bus is available with an option of either a 75kW, 103kW or 132kW engine. The Kombi comes with the choice of either 75kW or 103kW. The Caravelle is only offered with a 132kW engine. The 75kW engine is fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard. The 103kW is equipped with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG gearbox. The Caravelle only comes with a seven-speed DSG.

Something new, something old

Volkswagen will be offering a special two-tone paint scheme at a cost of R29 000. This is to pay homage to the original Volksie bus. This model will also feature colour-coded interior trim inserts on the dashboard. There’s also a set of really retro looking hubcap-like rims on offer.

Verdict

The view from the front of the car is great, thanks to a large windscreen. The ride is comfortable and there’s loads of space inside. I did find that if someone sits right at the back, they might need to make use of a walkie-talkie to communicate with those in front as there is a bit of tyre noise, which gets into the cabin. The new T6 has been priced to undercut some of its competitors, like the Mercedes-Benz V-Class. At the end of the day the T6 offers what you expect; it is well built and gets on with the job that it was designed and engineered to do. Sixty years down the line and Volkswagen has still managed to capture the essence of the first VW bus.

Prices:

Transporter Pick-Up

 2.0 TDI Single Cab Pick Up LWB 75kW - R293 900

 2.0 TDI Double Cab Pick Up LWB 75kW - R332 800

 2.0 BiTDI Double Cab Pick Up LWB 132kW - R409 800

 Transporter Panel Van

 2.0 TDI Panel Van SWB 75kW - R362 600

 2.0 TDI Panel Van LWB 75kW - R370 600

 2.0 TDI Sport Van SWB DSG 103kW - R432 600

 Transporter Crew Bus

2.0 TDI Crew Bus SWB 75kW - R421 100

 2.0 TDI Crew Bus LWB 75kW - R429 100

 2.0 TDI Crew Bus LWB DSG 103kW - R464 400

 2.0 BiTDI Crew Bus SWB DSG 132kW - R489 400

 2.0 BiTDI Crew Bus SWB 4MOTION DSG 132kW - R519 900

 2.0 BiTDI Crew Bus LWB 4MOTION DSG 132kW - R527 900

 Kombi

 2.0 TDI Kombi Trendline 75kW - R481 800

 2.0 TDI Kombi Trendline DSG 103kW - R513 300

 2.0 TDI Kombi Comfortline 103kW - R566 400

 2.0 TDI Kombi Comfortline DSG 103kW - R583 900

 2.0 TDI Kombi Comfortline LWB DSG 103kW - R591 900

 Caravelle

 2.0 BiTDI Caravelle Comfortline DSG 132kW - R738 300

 2.0 BiTDI Caravelle Comfortline 4MOTION DSG 132kW - R770 800

 2.0 BiTDI Caravelle Highline DSG 132kW - R816 300

 2.0 BiTDI Caravelle Highline 4MOTION DSG 132kW - R848 800

Article written by Justin Jacobs
24.11.2015
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