Volkswagen's budget-friendly Runner models have been around for a few years now, and these cut-price versions of the Caddy and Transporter are designed to appeal to those buyers who need a basic van for business needs. Adding to the appeal is that they look almost identical to the regular base model versions of each of their respective ranges, aside from Runner badges.
The new-generation T6 Transporter Runner TDI250, for example, is on sale from $32,990 driveaway - or about $8000 less than the previous entry-point, the TDI340 manual ($37,990 plus on-road costs).
While the Runner version mirrors the TDI340 in being powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, the more affordable model has less power and torque on offer - 75kW at 3500rpm and 250Nm at 1500-2500rpm, compared with the higher-output models 103kW/340Nm. Fuel use is rated at 7.0 litres per 100km, which is 0.2L less than the TDI340 model.
The detuned Runner engine comes mated exclusively to a five-speed manual gearbox - you'll need to opt up to the higher output powertrain if you require an automatic (in Volkswagen's case, a seven-speed dual-clutch 'DSG' unit). The discount compared to a variant equipped with that transmission is closer to $11,000 - so the Runner starts to make sense.
Further, it still has items such as engine stop-start, a colour touchscreen media system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and auxiliary inputs, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control and more.
Safety isn't discounted, either, as the Runner version still gets dual front and front-side airbags, fatigue detection and rear parking sensors.
The Transporter Runner can only be had in short-wheelbase guise with a liftback tailgate. It has a payload of 1266kg and a volume capacity of 5.8m³.
We drove the T6 Transporter with the TDI250 engine at the international launch of the new model range last year. It didn't blow our socks off. Read the review here.
The other new arrival in the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle ranks is the Caddy, which, like the T6 Transporter, launched a few months ago, and has now been joined by a more basic Runner version, priced at $23,990 driveaway.
The regular Caddy range is powered by the TSI220 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 92kW/220Nm, but the new TSI160-equipped Caddy Runner model gets a downsized 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo with 62kW of power (at 4800rpm) and 160Nm of torque (from 1500-3500rpm). Fuel use is claimed at 5.9L/100km, slightly better than the TSI220 with its DSG transmission, at 6.0L/100km.
It only comes with a five-speed manual, and again, if you want an automatic, you'll have to stretch the budget to the base model Caddy van, which is a $28,990 plus on-road costs proposition.
The short-wheelbase-only Caddy Runner has similar equipment to the regular base model, including a touchscreen colour media system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and auxiliary inputs, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control and more.
Again, safety is still present in the Runner version, with dual front and front-side airbags standard, as well as driver fatigue detection. Like the regular range, you don't get rear parking sensors standard.
The Caddy Runner only comes with barn doors, and its payload is rated at 779kg. It has 3.2m³ of cargo capacity.
All Runner models are available only in Candy White solid paint, with Austin cloth interior trim in grey/grey and black.
2016 Volkswagen Transporter Runner - $32,990
2016 Volkswagen Caddy Runner - $23,990