Volkswagen revealed the all-new Transporter series van this week, and while it's not the Bulli concept-inspired Microbus revival that the world is hungry for, it is notable as an all new generation for VW's highly successful, 65-year-old workhorse. The new T6 will arrive at dealerships and camper van conversion workshops with a host of styling, equipment and technology upgrades.
Volkswagen swears that the new T series van is sculpted to look as if it's a single-piece body, whittled away from a solid block of material. We simply don't see it no matter how hard we squint. VW cripples its own sell job by pasting the above photo in the middle of its press release. The two-tone paint job of the new T6 works against any semblance of single-piece look, as does setting it next to the clean, hoodless body of the classic Splitty.
What we do see is an extremely modest revision of the T5 design that includes some new hood styling and sharper lines and edges throughout. It feels more like a light mid-cycle refresh than an all-new generation, but as Volkswagen explains, the T series is a classic design that it modernizes with caution. Extreme caution, from the looks of the T6. No surprise, though – at the end of the day, the modern Transporter is just a utilitarian van with a strong work ethic, having lost its real personality decades ago. Short of shocking the world with a true-to-concept Bulli (which Autocar recently suggested is still on the table, at least in the form of a camper van), VW is not likely to excite the world too much with a new generation.
VW does have one interesting trick up its sleeve with the T6: the Generation SIX special edition, a market-launch exclusive that includes available two-tone paint job and optional 18-in retro-design "Disc" alloy wheels, plus standard LED front and rear lights, chrome package, tinted windows, and fog lights with cornering light. The interior of the Multivan Comfortline-based SIX features two-tone Alcantara seats, fabric floor mats and contrast stitching on the steering wheel and gear shift leather. The SIX also comes equipped with various drive and cabin technologies, including ParkPilot front and rear, Side Assist with electric folding mirrors, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Composition Media infotainment system.
The new T6 models are powered by a new-generation TDI family that VW refers to as "EA288 Nutz" internally. Volkswagen says that the engine was developed for long, durable service life and will be offered in EU6-emissions-standard markets. On paper, the transversely-mounted 2.0-liter diesel family is anything but "nutz," offering modest output levels between 83 and 201 horsepower. VW will also offer 2.0-liter four-cylinder petrol options with outputs of 148 and 201 hp. With the help of a standard stop/start feature, the engine lineup could reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 15 percent.
The driver can expect some help when putting the engine to work, starting with a new adaptive chassis system that dials suspension in according to three selectable modes: comfort, normal and sport. Available driver assistance technologies include Adaptive Cruise Control, Light Assistance front controlled headlight management, and Driver Alert System. Hill Descent Assist is available on models equipped with 4MOTION four-wheel drive.
The Transporter interior also gets some interesting goodies. The available 6.3-in touchscreen infotainment system features new proximity sensors that change the screen from display to input mode as one's hand approaches. The optional electronic voice enhancement system works like a seamlessly integrated PA system, amplifying the driver's voice over the rear loudspeakers so that he or she can be heard while keeping both eyes on the road. A newly-available electric tailgate system pops the tailgate open or closed at the push of the key fob and driver-door button. A heated windshield is also on offer.
Volkswagen will begin taking orders in the coming days. The basic Transporter work van starts things off at €23,035 (approx. US$24,900), and the consumer-oriented top-of-range Multivan starts at €29,952 (approx. $32,325).
Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
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