Volkswagen Transporters’ emissions prove ideal for short mileage fleets, petrol first drive

"On the move there is plenty of in-gear pulling power and at motorway speeds the TSI engine is just as inaudible as it is at idle."



The Volkswagen Transporter's petrol engine running costs and emissions make it suitable for shorter mileage fleets, as found in first drive. 

Volkswagen is the first manufacturer to introduce a petrol engine to its medium-size panel van, the Transporter, giving operators an affordable alternative to diesel.

Badged TSI, the petrol Transporter makes use of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine found in many Volkswagen Group cars – including the Golf GTi.

In this application it develops 150PS and 280Nm of torque – enough to provide the same performance as a diesel Transporter 2.0 TDI 150.

When you are used to the diesel rumble of a panel van starting, the Transporter TSI is a pleasant aberration. Its engine quietly hums away with no vibration.

The power delivery is similar to that of a modern diesel van. Torque is developed low in the rev range and the van sets off with strong pace.

On the move there is plenty of in-gear pulling power and at motorway speeds the TSI engine is just as inaudible as it is at idle.

Volkswagen has priced the Transporter TSI at £1,000 less than its diesel equivalent, minimising up-front investment.

SMR costs and depreciation are similar, but things start to look less impressive when considering fuel economy.

Officially, the Transporter TSI will return a combined 31mpg and during our test we averaged 28mpg over 200 miles of mixed driving.

We didn’t test the van fully laden but with an 80Nm torque deficit you will have to work the engine harder to manage the additional weight.

In a diesel Transporter, the official fuel consumption figure is 46mpg and we would expect to achieve at least 42mpg with similar driving habits.

So, for an operator, the petrol van will cost between 5p and 6p per mile more in fuel costs, quickly wiping out any saving on purchase price.

With a slightly lighter engine, the TSI does improve payload by 29kg, offering 1,117kg in T30 short-wheelbase guise.

But, for many operators, bottom line running costs are going to be the most important criteria and the TSI just can’t live up to the might of its diesel alternatives.

The Euro 6 TDI diesel engines available in the Transporter are among the most refined and durable on the market – helping the van to secure a Commercial Fleet Award for Best Medium Panel Van.

They are also exempt from upcoming emissions regulations that are targeting the ‘dirty diesels’ which caused the fuel to fall from grace so quickly over the past two years.

Fleets covering shorter mileages should be less affected by the fuel consumption difference than those doing lots of motorway work and owner-operators may prefer the sportier driving dynamic the TSI engine offers.

But for most fleets the diesel should still be the engine of choice unless their business has an unerring environmental agenda.

VW Transporter Highline

Although, if that is the case, the petrol’s CO2 emissions of 208g/km should come into consideration when compared to the diesel’s 159g/km.

The Transporter TSI is great to drive, refined and durable. However, fleets should consider the extra running costs associated with a petrol van before making the leap away from diesel.

Model tested: Volkswagen Transporter petrol  2.0 TSI 150 Highline

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.