Volkswagen has given its Transporter T6 a modest makeover under the T6.1 banner, with a restyled front bumper, radiator grille and dashboard, a new electro-mechanical steering system and a major emphasis on standard and optional onboard safety devices.
Crosswind Assist is now standard as is Driver Steering Recommendation. It makes gentle adjustments to maximise the vehicle’s stability and counteract over-steer.
Front Assist with City Emergency Braking is standard yet again, and has been upgraded so it detects the presence of pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicles.
A larger support frame has been fitted to reduce vibration in the front radar control unit and improve the accuracy of the Adaptive Cruise Control.
Likely to be on the options list in the UK is Park Assist, which can automatically manoeuvre T6.1 into and out of parallel parking spaces.
It includes Side Protection. A dozen ultrasonic sensors monitor the vehicle’s sides and use audible and visual alerts to warn the driver if the Transporter is getting too close to walls, pillars or passing pedestrians.
Opt for satellite navigation and you get Traffic Sign Recognition too.
Three infotainment packages are listed and all models feature an integrated SIM card which opens up a range of online-based functions through We Connect. App-Connect is also standard, allowing screen mirroring of mobile phones.
As with the previous model, the T6.1 relies on the 2.0-litre TDI diesel. This time around the power outputs are 90PS/220Nm, 110PS/250Nm, 150PS/ 340Nm and 199PS/450Nm.
At one stage VW valiantly extolled the virtues of petrol Transporters. Poor sales mean that initiative has been quietly ditched.
A five- or six-speed manual gearbox is offered dependent on the power output, a seven-speed DSG auto box is listed as an option and Transporter remains available with 4Motion four-wheel drive.
Gross weights range from 2.6 to 3.2 tonnes and customers can pick either a short or a long wheelbase. The latter can be specified with a high roof and T6.1 will also be sold as a chassis cab and as a passenger-carrying Kombi.
An electric e-Transporter produced in conjunction with specialist engineering group ABT looks set to appear early next year.
We took to the highways around Amsterdam in a short-wheelbase T6.1 with the 150PS engine and a six-speed gearbox. It rode and handled well – the new steering system provides ample feedback – delivered a smooth, slick gear-change and was not short on performance even with a half-tonne test load in the back.
Build quality was, of course, exemplary and in-cab noise levels were kept well under control.
UK order books will open in November with the first vans scheduled to be in customers’ hands by next March.
Full pricing details and vehicle data will not be released until November. In the meantime, VW predicts that prices will start at £21,635 (T26 Startline 90PS SWB) rising to £36,915 (T32 Highline 199PS LWB with DSG and 4Motion).
A Business Pack will be marketed as an extra-cost option and will include air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and an alarm.
We’re talking evolution rather than revolution here, and VW has done just about enough to keep Transporter fresh in an intensely-competitive sector of the market. The stress on safety deserves high praise and T6.1’s rock-solid build quality spells good news for residual values.