VW T6 Transporter/ Caravelle/Multivan

Transporting from a time far, far away

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

VW LAUNCHED the ‘new’ T6 Transporter range just before Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Christmas and, by George, the similarities are striking. Like the film, the T6 comes from an at-times innovative, genre-creating, eradefining and also occasionally dull but always high-quality franchise with a fierce fan base.

Striking back against the resurgent Transit, Trafic and Vito rebel forces, the reskinned T6 arrives with fresh nose and taillights, lower pricing, improved dash and optional driver-assist tech. There are some 26 variants.

But behind the shiny baubles you’ll find a trio of 2010-era 2.0-litre turbo-diesels (103kW TDI340, 132kW TDI400 and 150kW TDI450, with six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG).

All shift smoothly, pull promptly and offer up to 0.5L/100km less consumption, aided by idle-stop.

Bolted to 2004 T5 architecture, the steering is tight and handling surprisingly surefooted, but the ride is still hard. While the T5 was a distant galaxy ahead a dozen years ago, nowadays it’s rudimentary – especially against the terrifically dynamic Transit – except on the expensive models offering blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and AEB safety. The 1960s hippy Kombi’s descendants are now just like the clones they’re attacking.

Why the same-old rehash?

VW reckons retaining the T5’s dimensions means current owners can swap over existing fitouts, saving big bucks. A true tale too this is, as Yoda might say.

Prices tumble by $1700 for the $36,990 TDI340 manual front-drive range opener.

Meanwhile, the Multivan TDI340 SWB DSG seven-seater and Caravelle TDI340 LWB DSG nine-seater start from $50K apiece, stretching to $80K for the hotel/airport-run Multivan LWB Executive TDI450 DSG; its torquemonster twin-turbo diesel can just about tow a Death Star. The special limited-edition launch model featured here, called Generation 6, is distinguished by LED front and rear lights, twotone paint and 18-inch retro-style ‘Disc’ alloys. It also comes packed with numerous tech, safety and comfort features.

Four airbags, touchscreen with available reversing camera and apps connectivity, better storage and better dash materials for the people-movers complete the T5 sequel… err, new T6 blockbuster.

Let the van wars begin!

Diesel-less Caddy

A facelift of the Golf-based Caddy (above) for 2016 is just as invisible, but due to the diesel emissions scandal, it’s initially an all-petrol line-up, with a sparkling new 92kW/220Nm 1.4-litre turbopetrol with optional DSG from $29K. However, the new 62kW 1.2 TSI Runner base model was also due as we went to print. ‘Cleaned-up’ diesels will arrive in mid- 2016. A revised dash with new touchscreen apps and optional driver-assist safety round out the ‘new’ Caddy.

PLUS & MINUS

Dated design; barely noticeable facelift; no Audi inside Refined, torquey engine; safety; some l ne; lower prices; broad range