Fleet News

Long-term road test: Volkswagen Transporter T30 SWB 2.5 TDI PD 174

‘IT’S just like driving a big car!’ Those were the exact words of photographer James Scorey as he returned the keys of our long-term Volkswagen Transporter to me after a recent photoshoot.

And you know what? He is dead right.

It’s now three months since the van arrived here for a six-month appraisal and for all its size and weight, you feel as though you are behind the wheel of a car – and a pretty powerful one at that.

For those who missed our original test in the July 13 edition, this Transporter may look like an ordinary panel van but under the bonnet lurks a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel powerplant that blasts out a whopping 174bhp.

The Transporter thinks nothing of 100mph and will aparently hit 120mph on a good day – not, I hasten to add, that we’d recommend that sort of thing.

So far, a variety of testers have borrowed the vehicle and all have marvelled at its power and usefulness.

One used it to take a motor-cycle to the local garage, another moved house with it and yours truly went one further the other weekend and used it as a makeshift home at a music festival.

Some years ago I owned an old-style Transporter camper van and when I sold it, I wisely kept the awning.

So while others around me crouched in their bivvies cooking up tins of beans on little Primus stoves, my partner and I reclined in luxury on our sun loungers, sipping sparkling wine from proper glasses while haute cuisine food simmered gently on my family-sized cooker. The awning didn’t quite fit but with a bit of string attached at either end, no-one would have known the difference.

I peeled the double mattress off my bed at home and with my duck down quilt on top, we wouldn’t have found better quarters at the Hilton.

A major surprise came as I got out the calculator for the van’s first proper fuel economy test. I don’t exactly hang around (I defy anyone not to use this van’s prodigious power) but was amazed to discover it is returning 33.1 mpg.

I know this figure is a long way from the claimed 44.8mpg but in my book a three-tonne gvw vehicle than can top 30mpg with a heavy-right-footed driver is nothing short of a miracle.

My only real gripe with the Transporter so far is the fact that it lacks any form of side rubbing strips. I don’t know why but vans seem unfairly prone to picking up minor knocks and dings and our van’s dark blue paintwork has suffered a couple of nicks already, caused by hands unknown.

This problem apart, I’m liking the VeeDub so much that I’ll be extremely loathe to hand it back in a few months’ time.

Price (ex-VAT): £17,957 (£19,272 as tested)
Mileage: 3,663
CO2 emissions (g/km): n/a
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% taxpayer: £9 per month
Insurance group: 6
Combined mpg: 44.8
Test mpg: 33.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,275/30%
Expenditure to date: Nil

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