The T6 is not a radical departure from the T5. It’s more of a facelift, in many respects. Still, the evolution from T2 to T6 spans 65 years, so Volkswagen achieved good model lifespans with the T6’s forebears. Incidentally, because the Beetle was the Type 1, the Kombi family kicked off with T2 and the bay-window upgrade was called the T2B (astonishingly, later Volkswagen renamed the first versions the T1). The first Kombis were assembled in South Africa in 1955. There is also a great TV advert extolling the virtues of things that come in half-dozen packs, which makes the T6 rebadging cool. Styling has been freshened up too – more at the front than elsewhere – and engines have been retained.
The new range is comprehensive to suit all the needs of “the people”. So, if you need a bakkie, there is a single cab pick-up, a double cab, vans, short or long wheelbases, Transporter Crew Bus, Kombi and finally the Caravelle. And on top of that Volkswagen offer the specification levels of Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Colour options are many and VW has decided to bring in the two-tone “heritage” colours that include painted wheels and facia. Due to the time-consuming painting process for this option, it costs R29 000.
The top-of-the-line T6 Caravelle with a 132 kW Bi Turbo TDI engine is the subject of this review. Although the norm is to have lots of options that can push a base price, this Highline version includes most available luxuries, including 17-inch wheels, cornering “fog” lights, full LED head- and taillamps, dual electrically sliding side doors, three-zone climate control, satnav and a fold-out towbar.
A rear-view camera aids the park distance control to make the bulk of the vehicle more manageable when parking. Note that this system is optional, even on the Highline model. The “Discover” media system, which has a 6,3-inch touchscreen, satnav and a feature whereby the proximity of your hand brings up relevant menu options to select, is standard fitment.
With this seven-seat layout, the middle pair of seats can individually be swivelled to face the rear seats, which means the pop-up and fold-out table can then be shared. Although the rear seat looks very heavy, it can be removed without using tools.
In typical VW fashion, the bus is very comfortable to drive courtesy of adjustable armrests, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, a comfortable driver’s seat and good visibility. Rearmost occupants are not seated as comfortably as those in the middle row, because the bench is situated near the rear axle and the armrests are a bit small. They do gain the benefit from retractable side screens, however.
The front passenger seat or middle row are the places to be for the best long distance comfort. The ride quality is slightly firm, even with six adults and some luggage on board, but this is only an issue on roads of poorer quality. So many seven seaters offer enough accommodation for passengers, but has zilch space left over for luggage. This is where the T6 shines: with loads of room for carrying goods as well.
The warranty is 3-years/120 000 km with a maintenance plan of 5 years/ 60 000 km. Service intervals are 15 000 km.
Top Speed:191 km/h
Fuel Consumption:7,9 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:5-years/60 000 km