Volkswagen TranSporter Shuttle Van Review
Facts At A Glance
PRICES: £17,519 - £23,119 (ex VAT)
ENGINES: 1.9-litre PD TDI (85 or 104PS), 2.5-Litre PD TDI (130 or 175PS)
PERFORMANCE: [2.5 TDI 175PS] 0-60mph- 12.2 seconds/ max speed 117mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.9 TDI 104PS](Urban) 29.7mpg (Extra Urban) 42.2mpg (Combined) 36.7mpg
VolkswagenTranSporter Shuttle Van - SPACESHUTTLE
SomewhereBetween An MPV And A Fully-Fledged Minibus, Volkswagen’s TransporterShuttle Could Solve Your Passenger Carrying Problems.
Hotels,taxi firms, tour operators, there are plenty of businesses thatregularly need to transport groups of people over long distances incomfort. Even private buyers with extended families or a vast clutch ofoffspring of their own may find that conventional MPVs don’t providethe requisite space. To these and other kinds of customer withmulti-person transit on their agenda, Volkswagen offer the TransporterShuttle. Able to seat up to nine adults, it’s a heady mix of van, MPVand minibus characteristics that could be just what you’re looking for.
There’sa distinction to be made between transporting passengers andtransporting them in comfort. The fact that it’s theoretically possibleto get a certain number of people into a vehicle does not mean thatthey’re going to be in any fit state to do anything when they get outat the other end. A group of 46 students in Brisbane, Australia oncecontrived to squeeze themselves into a Mini but no right-minded personwould then expect them to complete the transfer from BirminghamInternational to Heathrow. At least, not without regular rest breaks.
Similarly,there are MPVs on the market which their manufacturers claim canaccommodate eight people but on closer inspection, these vehiclesusually have at least two seats that are really only suitable forchildren or hobbits. Most businesses, with the possible exception ofairline operators, are highly reluctant to shoehorn fully-grown, payingclients into spaces that would cramp a medium to large monkey and sothese MPVs are less than ideal. By contrast, Volkswagen claim theTransporter Shuttle can seat up to nine in comfort and, refreshingly,it can. So we’re off to a good start.
Ifyou want to create a passenger-carrying vehicle with the maximumpossible interior space, a van is a sensible place to start. Spaceinside MPVs is often impinged on by a need to make the outside lookpretty but commercial vehicle designers are not so restricted byaesthetic considerations. The Transporter Shuttle is based on theTransporter van and externally it looks just like a Transporter vanwith windows down the sides. It’s not the sleekest of shapes but insidebuyers certainly reap the benefits of all that space.
TheShuttle is available in short or long wheelbase form with even theshorter model offering a 5.8m3 volume. The LWB version ups this to6.7m3 and even with all the seats in place it still provides loadspacebehind the rearmost row that’s nearly a meter in length. You couldconceivably carry nine people and their luggage in the long wheelbaseShuttle but the absence of that extra 400mm between the arches meansthat the SWB version has only half the space out back. A roof rack maybe in order.
"…Volkswagenclaim, can seat up to nine in comfort and, refreshingly, it can"
Volkswagenoffer a plethora of people carrying vehicles based on their latestTransporter van of which the Shuttle is just one constituent part. TheCaravelle is the most luxurious with its swivelling seats and centralfolding table. Then there’s the Kombi which has just one row of seatingbehind the driver leaving the whole rear section free for cargo. TheShuttle slots in above the Window van which has the same amount ofpassenger accommodation but is a more basic heavy-duty product, doingwithout some of the Shuttle’s Plusher features. The likes of rollerblinds for the side windows, electrically adjustable mirrors andelectric windows all help lift the Shuttle above the level of a mereminibus. Meanwhile the SE trim level adds body coloured bumpers,air-conditioning and carpets to edge the Shuttle within spittingdistance of the Caravelle.
TheShuttle’s ninth seat is actually a cost option and it takes the form ofa twin front passanger seat that replaces the standard single one tocreate the extra capacity. Head, leg and shoulder room on both of the3-seater rear benches is good but there seems to be less space for thetwo passengers perched upfront in the nine seater versions. Unless youactually need the ninth berth, it may do better to saving your moneyand getting an eight-seater Shuttle.
TheShuttle’s van underpinnings may put some prospective buyers off simplybecause they associate commercial vehicle origins with industrial rideand refinement. In fact, the vehicle is a pleasant drive with one offour excellent diesel engines taking care of the legwork and thesuspension doing a creditable job of ironing out the bumps. There is atenancy for the Shuttle to get a but unsettled and bouncy overundulating surfaces but on the flat its smooth and the engine noise iswell suppressed.
Theengines are all Volkswagen TDI PD diesels. Two are 1.9-litre units andthe remainder have a 2.5-litre capacity. The smaller options generate85PS and 104PS respectively and performance is reasonable but, as youcan probably imagine, these engines do start to grow breathless withthe full complement of passengers and luggage on board. The 2.5-litreoptions are the ones to go for if you plan on using your Shuttle’s fullcapacity. These units feel considerably more powerful and have bundlesof torque for responsiveness from low down in the rev Range. The 130PSoption will be more than enough for most but there’s always the 174bhpalternative should you need more under your right foot.
TheShuttle’s gears are selected by a smoothly operating dash mountedgearbox with six speeds for the 2.5-litre models or five for the 1.9s.The larger powerplants can also be ordered with a six-speed tiptronicautomatic which actually suits the Shuttle’s character very well.Should you want the security of four-wheel-drive, the 4Motion system isavailable with the 130PS 2.5-litre engine but all models include ABSbrakes and TCS traction control.
Pricedfrom under £20,000 on the road (£17,519 excluding VAT), the TransporterShuttle looks and feels like a lot of car for the money. Even the 174PS2.5-litre model with long wheelbase and SE trim comes in under £25,000and that has got to be enough to turn the heads of people who wereconsidering paying £24,000 for a top-spec Ford Galaxy or £30,000 forone of the Plushest Chrysler Grand Voyager models. These traditionalMPVs can’t hold a candle to the Shuttle in terms of interior space orpassenger accommodation and the Volkswagen’s van lineage means it feelsconsiderably tougher as well. If space is your final frontier, theShuttle is a model you should give serious consideration to.