What Car? says...
It’s not uncommon in the tech world to add a '.1' to the end of something to declare an update to an existing version, but, in the van world, it’s never been a thing. The revised Volkswagen Transporter 'T6.1' changes that.
As with most facelifts, the main focus for Volkswagen was on improving the look and feel of the Transporter, rather than changing fundamental components such as its engine or underpinnings. On the styling front, there's a new front grille and bumper – in fact, everything beneath the bonnet line has been reworked – and the headlights have been narrowed and now distinctively merge with the crossbar across the grille.
Among the other big changes brought about with this facelift is a switch to electromechanical steering. The new system is similar to the one used in the larger Volkswagen Crafter, and allows features such as lane-keeping assistance and crosswind assist to be added to the mid-sized Transporter.
All other aspects of the Transporter remain unchanged, with short and long wheelbases, and standard, medium and high roof heights available. Two trim levels are on sale now – Startline and Highline – with Sportline and an electric e-Transporter version developed by tuning experts Abt to follow.
There's also the option of 4Motion four-wheel-drive, as well as standard front-wheel-drive on single and double-cab chassis, crew vans, minibus and executive shuttle buses.
Read on to find out more about the Volkswagen Transporter t6.1. And don't forget to visit the What Car? New Car Buying pages for a great deal on your next vehicle.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
While the latest emissions regulations have forced the hand of many manufacturers to adopt new engines, Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre diesel has only needed to have its exhaust system reworked in order to meet the much tougher standard. Options of either an 89bhp, 108bhp or 148bhp unit remain, while the twin-turbocharged version of the same engine delivers 196bhp.
All of this means there is relatively little difference between the T6 and T6.1 in the way they propel you up the road. Our recommendation would be the 148bhp diesel, because its balance of power and torque makes it the best option for both low-speed city driving and motorway miles.
There is a difference in the way the latest Transporter handles, though, due to its new steering. Where the previous setup felt overly light and floaty, the new one is much more precise and offers excellent straight-line stability. Plus, like its bigger relative, the Crafter, the Transporter T6.1 manages to disguise its size admirably.
All Transporters are fitted with either a five or six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but the seven-speed DSG automatic alternative is definitely an option we'd choose, not least because it allows the van to bring itself to a complete standstill when using adaptive cruise control – great for traffic jams.
Passenger Multivan versions gained a redesigned front suspension system as part of the '.1' facelift, but there were no other mechanical changes and Transporter's ride remains smooth, even when lightly loaded.
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