The Transporter series of vans has been around since the 1950s and has evolved into a highly capable line-up of commercial vehicles. In that time, more than 8.5 million examples have rolled off the production line. This version of Volkswagen's Ford Transit rival was launched in 2003, and is bigger, more powerful, and better equipped than the model it replaced. The Transporter has two diesel engines are on offer, with several outputs, ranging from 85bhp 1.9 TDI to the 174bhp 2.5 TDI.
The front looks smart with many switches and buttons taken from VW's passengers’ cars, which are well positioned and easy to function. Transporter is a big van and you can feel rather awkward around town, although no more so than its rivals. A few little luxuries, like air conditioning, a large glovebox and oversized cup holders make it a very comfortable car to be in.
The Transporter is available in two familiar direct injection engines. The 1.9 TDI has either 85bhp or 104bhp, while the 2.5 TDI gets 130bhp or 174bhp. Both engines are punchy and powerful, though the 2.5 TDI is recommended for more heavy duty work. It's a large van, so there is bodyroll. Nevertheless, it isn't too much and, overall, Transporter handles with confidence. The Transporter versions with 4MOTION four-wheel-drive have a six-speed gearbox and there's also a tiptronic-style semi-auto gearbox. VW has put extra effort into engineering a ride that's comfortable and keeps vibrations to a minimum and this is the case on most surfaces.
The VW Transporter has twin back doors, two sliding side doors and a low sill for ease of loading. There is a choice of three roof heights and two wheelbases. Payload capacity is from 834kg to 1297kg and the area of the load space is between 5.8 to 9.3 cubic metres. There are two gross vehicle weight (GVW) options: 2600kg or 3000kg. It's a much improved space over its predecessor in all respects. There is a minibus version available too called the Transporter Shuttle.
Safety is high on VW’s list and every Transporter comes with ABS, three-point seatbelts with height adjustment all around and a driver's airbag. You can also get passenger airbag, twin side airbags and two curtain airbags as optional. Transporter vans featuring 4MOTION have electronic stability programme and brake assist as standard. All Transporter’s versions have remote central locking, deadlocks and a transponder immobiliser feature. A factory-fit alarm is optional.