Volkswagen Australia has launched the sixth generation of its midsize van range this week, with three models in the T6 family - the Transporter, Caravelle and Multivan - covering both the commercial and passenger van markets.
Exterior styling is a subtle evolution of the previous-generation's look, but under the metal is a car that's more fuel efficient, safer, more comfortable and better equipped than before.
The engine range is entirely new. Powered by the EA288 family of turbo diesel 2.0-litre four-pots, the T6 engine lineup ranges in output from 103kW/340Nm, to the mid-spec TDI 400 with 132kW/400Nm to the new twin-turbocharged TDI 450 model with 150kW and 450Nm.
The 75kW/250Nm entry-level engine has been axed, and the Caravelle only makes use of the 103kW/340Nm motor. The Multivan can be had with either the TDI 340 or TDI 450 engines, while the Transporter takes the TDI 340 and TDI 400.
The Transporter range is available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin clutch automatic, with front-wheel drive the default configuration. The Transporter TDI 400 can be optioned with 4Motion all-wheel drive in short wheelbase, long wheelbase or cab chassis form, and as a manual or automatic.
The Multivan and Caravelle are auto-only, with optional 4Motion AWD for the Multivan Highline TDI 450 short wheelbase variant.
Fuel economy improves slightly with the new engines now sporting auto engine start-stop, saving roungly half a litre in average fuel consumption (depending on model).
At the thriftiest end of the scale is the Multivan TDI 450 FWD with 6.5 l/100km, while the thirstiest is the Transporter TDI 400 4Motion automatic at 8.3 l/100km.
Curiously the most powerful models in the family, the Multivan TDI 450 variants, are the most economical. The TDI 340 Transporter FWD, the least powerful and lightest model in the T6 range, drinks more than the heavyweight Multivan at 7.2 l/100km.
The suspension continues to consist of MacPherson struts at the front and coil-sprung trailing arms at the rear, but electronically adjustable dampers are now available on the Multivan Highline.
Disc brakes are fitted to all four corners, and the turning circle is a carlike 11.9m for the short wheelbase models and 13.2 for the long wheelbase.
The cabin of the Transporter is utilitarian - like most commercial vans - but inherits features from Volkswagen's passenger car ranges.
The finish is more upmarket than before, the standard infotainment system is a five-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB and SD card media inputs are standard and there's dual front and side airbags on all models.
Reverse parking sensors are also standard (except on cab-chassis models), a handy feature when backing up to tight loading docks.
In base form the Transporter comes with a single sliding door on the left hand side and a roof-hinged tailgate, but dual sliding doors and rear barn doors are available.
Go for the Crew Van configuration, and a three-person rear bench, sliding side windows and a right-hand sliding door are added to the Transporter's standard equipment.
Other available options include a 6.3-inch colour display featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring (and also available with satellite navigation), a reversing camera, rubber cargo floor cladding, a metal partition between the passenger compartment and load area, and mid or high-roof configurations.
All Transporter van variants are 1244mm wide between their rear wheelarches and can accommodate a standard Australian pallet.
SWB Transporters can accept loads up to 2572mm long while the LWB can take up to 2975mm, though that drops to 1600mm and 1967mm for the five-seater Crew Van models.
At its lowest, the Transporter's cargo bay is 1990mm tall. The mid-roof option extends that to 2177mm, and the high-roof boasts 2477mm of floor-to-roof clearance.
The nine-seater Caravelle gets a more passenger-friendly fit-out, with a rear camera, dual sliding side doors, rear air conditioning controls, cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps and full carpeting as standard.
Curtain airbags, however, are not available on the Caravelle.
Step into the Multivan though, and the T6's cabin gets decidedly more pleasant. There's more choice too, with four Multivan grades are offered in total - Comfortline, Generation Six, Highline and Executive.
In Comfortline trim the Multivan adds individual swivelling captain's seats in the second row, front and rear parking sensors, a 6.3-inch infotainment display with CarPlay and Android Auto, autonomous emergency braking, auto headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.
And unlike the Caravelle, both the second and third rows in the Multivan can slide fore and aft on rails, allowing either more legroom or more cargo room.
Curtain airbags are standard on SWB models, but not available on the LWB Multivan Comfortline. Same too for blind spot monitoring.
The Generation Six gets the same features, but also brings two-tone exterior and interior colour schemes, rear privacy glass, LED headlamps and tail lamps, 18-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, Alcantara upholstery, a colour MFD, exterior chrome trim and power sliding side doors.
Multivan Highline subtracts the blind-spot monitoring, but gains 17-inch alloys, sat-nav, speed-sensitive steering, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats, Nappa leather upholstery, voice controls and a sliding fold-out table between the second and third row.
The top-grade Executive gets Blind spot monitoring but sacrifices curtain airbags (as all LWB T6s do). It does however get more brightwork, the option of a sunroof, a smattering of "Generation Six" badges and more space between the second and third rows for enhanced legroom.
- Transporter TDI 340 SWB manual - $36,990
- Transporter TDI 340 LWB manual - $38,990
- Transporter TDI 340 SWB auto - $39,990
- Transporter TDI 400 SWB manual $40,590
- Transporter TDI 340 LWB auto - $41,990
- Transporter TDI 400 LWB manual - $42,590
- Transporter TDI 340 SWB crew van auto - $43,490
- Transporter TDI 400 SWB auto - $43,590
- Transporter TDI 400 SWB manual 4Motion - $44,090
- Transporter TDI 340 single cab chassis auto - $44,690
- Transporter TDI 400 dual cab chassis manual - $45,290
- Transporter TDI 340 LWB crew van auto - $45,490
- Transporter TDI 400 LWB auto - $45,590
- Transporter TDI 400 LWB manual 4Motion - $46,090
- Transporter TDI 400 SWB auto 4Motion - $47,090
- Transporter TDI 400 dual cab chassis auto - $48,290
- Transporter TDI 400 dual cab chassis manual 4Motion - $48,790
- Transporter TDI 400 LWB auto 4Motion - $49,090
- Caravelle Trendline TDI 340 auto LWB - $49,990
- Multivan Comfortline TDI 340 auto SWB - $49,990
- Multivan Comfortline TDI 340 auto LWB - $53,990
- Multivan Generation Six TDI 450 auto SWB - $74,990
- Multivan Highline TDI 450 auto SWB - $76,490
- Multivan Highline TDI 450 auto SWB 4Motion - $79,990
- Multivan Executive TDI 450 auto LWB - $80,490