PH Fleet: VW Transporter Kombi Sportline
A short but sweet tenure for the Transporter sees it back to VW and leaving a big hole in the PH fleet
My commuting patterns mean I tend to arrive at PH Towers earlier than most and at a time when delivery vans are doing the rounds. And on a number of occasions I had chaps wander over, drink in every detail of the Transporter's Sportline trimmings and murmur admiration for it in hushed, reverential tones as if I'd turned up in a Koenigsegg or something similarly exotic. Maybe it was the colour, but I'd have expected to be shunned as a wannabe van driver in such a vehicle.
Back where it belongs
Safer ground, meanwhile, was found doing the things 'civilian' van users buy these things for. Turning up at Brands Hatch with a Caterham behind felt like very much the done thing and the rig got further admiration then. A shame my numpty towing 'skills' (term used loosely) resulted in a messy interaction between trailer hitch and bumper at one point, grovelling and apologetic emails to the VW press fleet administrator following in short order.
But what was it actually like for doing normal non van-like stuff then? Well, for all that prattling on about its on-road footprint being comparable with a large SUV there's no escaping it feels cumbersome when you need to park it. And though very luxurious and refined for a van - ours getting the Cab Comfort Pack with extra sound deadening - there's no escaping it still felt utilitarian compared with a similarly priced passenger car.
Unladen, the twin-turbo, 180hp diesel makes it feel properly sprightly and it's an unexpectedly revvy engine too and very happy to spin into the 3s and 4s on the rev counter without feeling strained. Even a Caterham on the back didn't blunt its edge too much, though the trip computer's average dipped to the low 20s rather than the high 30s it usually recorded.
Gripes? The Kenwood nav/stereo was about the most fiddly, least user-friendly piece of kit I've ever had the misfortune to use. Why VW uses this rather than the regular OE touchscreen unit like the one in our Golf GTI astounds me, the flaky nav and absurdly complicated interface just two of its many annoyances. The only other moan was the weight of the seats when you remove them to go to full van mode - a two-man job really and a real faff if you don't have a garage to store them in.
Car: 2012 VW Transporter Kombi Sportline T32 SWB 2.0-litre BiTDI 180 PS
Run by: Dan Trent
On fleet since: July
List price new: £39,066 (List price of £30,340 plus VAT and delivery, plus Candy White paint/Gloss Black roof - £450, 'cab comfort pack' inc. additional carpets and noise suppression - £210, removable tow bar - £470, 'seat pack C' featuring heated front seats - £225, 'side door pack B' - £440, parking sensors - £150, mud flaps - £95, cruise control - £175; all options prices plus VAT)
Last couple of weeks at a glance: Dan lives out the 'lifestyle' ... lifestyle
The new ones are a horrendous price, but if you had the money they are about as good as it gets. The VWs wear even better than Mercedes in my opinion and don't seem to rust like the Mercs.
I drive a Combi with steels. Much more subtle, but I would like some nice alloys.
Mine is a work van, so I don't have to pay anything but as far as vans go, I don't think transporters can be beat.
Mine is a 140bhp, 6 speed, cruise control, air con, CD with USB, electric folding mirrors, rear and side privacy glass. Its a combi with a 2/1 split removable seats which are heavy but I lift them in and out myself and I am 5'4 lol!
Perfect for camping, I am also a keen mountain biker.
PS I think this worked out at about 25-26k. I think it being a Kombi rather than an all out van adds alot to the price.
What did I gain from running that I couldn't have achieved in a 'civilian' MPV or SUV? Well, I guess it depends on your needs. Personally I regularly have need to carry as many bikes and folk as I can, both usually muddy, and it's just so liberating to not have to worry about messing up a fancy interior. Space to get changed and the rest is nice too. It meant I went for more rides while I had it so, for that particular part of my life, yes it made a quantifiable difference. Brill on the holiday too; again the amount of kit and flexibility it enabled was just fab. For a family I guess more so too. But, like I said in the main story, no escaping that away from all that it does feel a bit cumbersome. All depends what you need really but, for me, it was bang on. And the fact it looked cool, went well, was refined and comfy was just icing on the cake stuff.
Already missing it! And the Caterham too...
I know it’s still a lot of money but I need to find a way to convince the wife.
The want of the DSG box is the only thing stopping me from getting a second-hand model, but even without it, there’re still enough money to put me in two minds on a new one.