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The new ‘T6’ generation Volkswagen Transporter has arrived, bringing in a significant range of updates for what has become Australia’s third most popular mid-sized van range.

The newest version of the Volkswagen Transporter van is a rival for the evergreen Toyota HiAce and Hyundai iLoad, plus Europeans such as the Ford Transit Custom, Renault Trafic and Mercedes-Benz Vito.

As ever, the Transporter is available in a bewildering array of variations, with two different wheelbases and three roof heights. Regular van, crew van and cab chassis ‘ute’ versions with single- and dual-cabs are on offer.

You can also option a unique 4Motion all-wheel drive configuration for more stable load handling and traction on take-off.

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As ever, Volkswagen will also offer people-carrying versions with either seven or nine seats, called the Caravelle and Multivan. For simplicity, we’ve branched the information on those variants off. Read all about them here.

Volkswagen Commercial Australia is on a mission with Transporter, and is eager to cut further into the dominant Toyota and Hyundai. The outgoing car managed 1221 sales this year, about 8.0 per cent market share, but not even one-fifth the HiAce’s volume.

The T6 Transporter gets a range of mechanical upgrades, sharper but very evolutionary design, and extra comfort and safety equipment such as the option of Apple CarPlay/Andoid Auto and lane assist.

It is also available in 12 exterior colours. Many of them are new to the range, such as Deep Ocean, Cherry Red, Grape Yellow, Indium Grey, Starlight Blue and Acapulco Blue.

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Drivetrains

Under the bonnet from launch are a pair of familiar 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engines, the TDI340 and TDI400. Respective outputs are 103kW at 3500rpm/340Nm at 1750-2500rpm, and 132kW at 4000rpm/1500-2000rpm respectively.

In both iterations the engines are matched to the choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The availability of an auto sets the VW apart from the manual-only Transit and Trafic.

Most versions are front-wheel drive, but the TDI400 can also be had with more capable 4Motion all-wheel drive.

Fuel economy has been improved by about 0.5 litres per 100km thanks to idle-stop, and ranges from 7.2L/00km on the combined cycle for the TDI340 manual to 8.3L/100km on the 4Motion with DSG.

In early 2016, the familiar 75kW/350Nm TDI250 Transporter Runner with manual gearbox will arrive, priced around $33K.

Towing capacities are not listed.

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Chassis and steering

The suspension comprises MacPherson struts up the front and a semi-trailing independent rear axle with coils and an anti-roll bar, promising some modicum of ride comfort. You can option heavy duty and rough road suspension upgrades.

The brakes are ventilated discs all-round, with dimensions of 308mm/294mm on the SWB and 340mm/294mm on the LWB and cab chassis.

The hydraulically assisted steering gives turning circles of between 11.9m and 13.2m depending on body style, and has 3.3 turns lock-to-lock.

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Capacities

The design and dimensions of the Transporter are basically unchanged, as is the shape, meaning existing owners can transfer their fit outs (racks etc) easily.

The SWB sits on a 3000mmm wheelbase, while the LWB has an extra 400mm between the axles, and at 5290mm is also 400mm longer overall. All are 2300mm wide. There are three roof heights — 1990mm, 2177mm and 2477mm.

The regular vans come with two front seats but can be optioned with a three-person bench, while the crew van has a folding three-seat second row bench as well.

Cargo volume is 5800 litres in the SWB low roof van, growing to 6700L in the LWB. The medium room adds 900L or 1100L depending on wheelbase, while the LWB-only high roof has a huge 9300L.

Lengths of the cargo area are 2572mm (SWB) and 2975mm (LWB), while the fitment of a partition removes about 250mm. The crew van has 1600mm and 1967mm lengths depending on wheelbase.

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All are 1244mm wide between the wheel arches, easily sufficient for a standard pallet. Payloads are listed as between 1014kg on the 4Motion DSG through to 1236kg on the manual SWB.

The SWB gets six lashing rings, while the LWB gets eight. All versions get hardboard side panels and a 12-volt socket. A partition must be optioned — there’s no standard bulkhead like on the Trafic.

Meantime, the cab chassis versions come in single and dual cab forms, with three or five seats respectively. The dual cab can be made into a six-seater if you option the front bench.

The payloads vary from between 1172kg on the 4Motion dual cab through to 1416kg on the single cab — these figures beat many conventional utes.

Dimensionally, the cab chassis’ are about the same as the LWB vans, and have the same 3400mm wheelbase. The tray dimensions are sizeable — 2939mm x 1940mm for the single cab and 2169mm x 1940mm for the dual cab.

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Interior

The cabin is familiar Volkswagen. New features include the updated infotainment systems, new three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.

All T6 models gets dual-front and side/head airbags as standard — not all rivals do. The crew van also gets rear Isofix points. All versions get multi-collision brakes and fatigue alert, while the vans get standard parking sensors (not available on the cab chassis’).

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Standard equipment

SWB and LWB

  • Single sliding side door
  • Roof-mounted tailgate
  • Electric windows
  • Trailer hitch preparation
  • 16-inch (SWB) or 17-inch (LWB) steel wheels with full-size spare
  • Cruise control
  • Rubber cab floor
  • 5.0-inch touchscreen
  • Bluetooth/USB/SD
  • Reversing sensors

Crew van (otherwise the same as van)

  • Rear seats with 2 x Isofix anchors and three adjustable headrests
  • Dual sliding side doors
  • Sliding side windows
  • Rubber covering in load compartment

Cab chassis’ (otherwise the same as van)

  • Miss out on parking sensors
  • Dual cab has fixed rear windows.

Pricing (plus on-road costs)

As we mentioned earlier, the circa $33K TDI250 Transporter Runner is due in a few months.

For now, the opening price is $36,90 for the SWB manual TDI340, which is actually $1700 cheaper than before. The base Trafic is $33,490, while the base Transit is $37,490. Neither of these have auto options.

  • Transporter TDI340 SWB manual — $36,990
  • Transporter TDI340 SWB DSG — $39,990
  • Transporter TDI400 SWB manual — $40,590
  • Transporter TDI400 SWB manual 4Motion — $44,090
  • Transporter TDI400 SWB DSG — $43,590
  • Transporter TDI400 SWB DSG 4Motion — $47,090
  • Transporter TDI340 LWB manual — $38,990
  • Transporter TDI340 LWB DSG — $41,990
  • Transporter TDI400 LWB manual — $42,590
  • Transporter TDI400 LWB manual 4Motion — $46,090
  • Transporter TDI400 LWB DSG — $45,590
  • Transporter TDI400 LWB DSG 4Motion — $49,090
  • Transporter TDI340 SWB crew van DSG — $43,490
  • Transporter TDI340 LWB crew van DSG — $45,490
  • Transporter TDI340 single cab chassis DSG — $44,690
  • Transporter TDI400 dual cab chassis manual — $45,290
  • Transporter TDI400 dual cab chassis manual 4Motion — $48,790
  • Transporter TDI400 dual cab chassis DSG — $48,290

Some options

  • Metallic or Pearl paint — $1190
  • Medium roof — $1190
  • High roof with rear barn doors (LWB-only) — $2390
  • Rear barn doors — $490
  • Rear barn doors on LWB with 250-degree hinges — $690
  • Driver’s side sliding rear cargo door — $1190
  • 17-inch alloy wheels — $1290
  • Fixed side window/s — $390 each
  • Sliding side window/s — $790 each
  • Three-person bench — $490
  • Rear air conditioning — $1090
  • High fixed cargo partition with window — $590
  • Rubber floor covering SWB/LWB — $450/$490
  • Woden floor covering SWB/LWB — $590/$690
  • Mechanical rear diff lock for 4Motion — $1290
  • Rough road suspension/heavy duty suspension — $790/$390
  • Second battery with cut-off relay — $490
  • Reverse-view camera — $590
  • 6.3-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto — $1190
  • 6.3-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and sat-nav — $2190
  • Driver Assistance pack (SWB-only) with lane assist, power folding mirrors, ambient cabin lights and cornering fog lights — $2560