Volkswagen Transporter Trendline Van Review
Facts At A Glance
PRICES: £14,990-£15,990 basic
ENGINES:1.9-litre TDI 101bhp or 2.5 TDI 128bhp
VolkswagenTranSporter Trend Line Special Edition - THETREND OF THE LINE
Most van drivers would jump at the chance of a well-equipped new van. The difficulty is persuading their superiors that such a model makes financial sense. Volkswagen’s Transporter Trendline might just swing it.
There’s no doubt that vans are getting Plusher. A few years back, a cup holder,a couple of floor mats and a sun visor would have been enough to sendthe average white van man cock-a-hoop. Today, such basics are a given but most commercial vehicle users would still like a bit more.
It’s not that desirable extras like air-conditioning, electric windows and heated door mirrors aren’t offered in vans. The problem is that they’re rarely included as standard and ticking boxes on an options list is a sure-fire way to rapidly ramp up a vehicle’s price. In a bid to keep the driver and the man clutching the purse strings happy, Volkswagen launched the Transporter Trendline – a well-equipped van at a price that won’t have you calling in the administrators.
So what’s the deal then? Well, the Volkswagen Transporter Trendline isbased on the Transporter T28 short wheel base panel van. Like everyTransporter, the vehicle features standard fit items like ABS brakes,traction control, a driver’s airbag, remote central locking and animmobiliser. You’ll also get cup holders, two sun visors and they’llprobably chuck in some floor mats if you ask nicely but such fripperiesaren’t deemed worthy of making it onto the modern van’s list of‘highlights’.
The Trendline edition takes the basic Transporter package and adds electricwindows, electric/heated door mirrors, a button on the dash that controls the central locking, driver’s seat arm-rests and a full solid bulkhead. The real deal sealer, however, has got to be the air-conditioning which makes all the difference to drivers on the sweltering summer days that, if the environmental doom mongers are to believed, we might be seeing a lot more of in the UK. Fleet managers and company bosses, sitting in their massaging executive armchairs in their climate-controlled offices, often don’t quite appreciate the benefit of signing off expensive air-conditioning systems in vehicles.The advantage is certainly felt by their drivers, however, and from acorporate perspective, no firm wants their representatives turning upat a job looking like they’ve just swum the Channel or smelling likethey’ve just swum the Mersey.
"Ina bid to keep the driver and the man clutching the purse strings happy,Volkswagen launched the Transporter Trendline"
The Trendline can be distinguished from ordinary Transporters by its full diameter wheel trims, Reflex Silver metallic paint and the ‘Trendline’ badge on its tailgate. You’ll also be able to spot one by its price. Although the package of additional equipment would add up to £1,500 if Transporter buyers got it from the options list, the Trendline is just £710 more expensive than the T28 short wheelbase van. The standard model comes with the 1.9-litre 101bhp diesel engine but it’s also possible to upgrade to the 2.5-litre 128bhp engine, which is only £510 more expensive than a T28 with that engine.
Condemning the T5 Transporter for its lack of swooping curves, rakish lines and fancy detailing is a little like having a pop at Pele because his cooking isn’t up to scratch. Just as the world’s greatest footballer should be let off the hook for a fourth-rate lasagne or a suspect plum duff in lieu of his shining ability on the pitch, a quality commercial vehicle should be excused its humdrum aesthetics because it does whatit’s supposed to do so well. True, those Volkswagen designers couldhave let their hair-down a bit more in a bid to liven-up the latest Transporter’s visual appearance but, as the great Brazilian would probably point out, you don’t change a winning team. The Transporter has been around in various forms since 1950, selling strongly worldwide. People liked the look of the T4 model, which arrived in1990, and the T5 builds on that popularity. The vans do share a similar shape but the T5 offers significant improvements over the T4 invirtually every other area.
We’ve touched on the Transporter’s less than inspiring outward appearance but inside there’s a real touch of class about the place. Drivers will be pleased to find a raft of storage options for odds or ends, including a lockable glovebox, and the whole ambience has that distinct air ofVolkswagen quality. The gearstick sprouts from the centre console, asis the fashion at the moment, and it falls nicely to hand. As do thecontrols on the gently sloping facia which are simple to pick out and manipulate without diverting attention from the road ahead. You could almost be in a people carrier from the top of the Volkswagen passengercar Range, such is the refinement and simplicity of the cabin.
Good though the Volkswagen Transporter’s interior is, the crowning glory in this van’s make-up has to be its performance on the road. Even without a load onboard to appease the heavy-duty suspension, the ride is exemplary and the steering is nicely weighted. There is more body rollthan you’ll experience in some rivals but the squeaks, creaks, rattlesor hums that seem to creep into commercial vehicles have been successfully banished and the engine noise is noticeably well suppressed. There’s a solidity about the T5 Transporter suggestingthat, like its predecessor, this model will run and run.
Only 500 Volkswagen Transporter Trendline models will be available - at least until those have been sold and the powers that be see fit to makesome more. The package certainly looks to be good value for money and it’s certainly cheaper than taking a Biro and a care free attitude tothe options list. The Transporter is still one of the finest small panel vans out there. Some rivals handle a slightly better and a number of the alternatives offer a more exciting visual appearance but the Transporter’s build quality, design and comfort levels are tough to beat.