If there were one new car that would delight a family when it swung into the home driveway, I guarantee it wouldn’t be some glamorous sports machine but Volkswagen’s latest passenger van.
Here’s a vehicle that can carry up to nine people with plenty of space and comfort, even luxury, and with a great view above regular traffic.
It offers so many pleasing novelties, from front-to-rear walk-through access, to swivelling “captain’s” chairs, a table, cool-box, in-built child booster seats and self-closing electric sliding doors.
And there’s an option called Voice Enhancer, which uses a microphone and the audio speakers to amplify the driver’s shouts to the kids in the back seats to be quiet and stop squabbling. It’s only one-way, too.
The passenger van, available in several variants priced between $49,990 and $80,490, is part of Volkswagen’s new work and passenger van line-up known as T6. That is, it’s the sixth generation of the vehicle we’ve known and loved since the 1950s as the Kombi.
The iconic nameplate doesn’t appear anywhere in in the T6 line-up, which is divided into Transporters and Multivans. Whether you’re a tradie or a family, there’s a huge choice of configurations and features for surely every need.
For example, the Transporter is available as a 2-seater or 5-seater, with two diesel engine choices, short or long wheelbase, three roof heights and even all-wheel drive. There’s a cab-chassis version and an options list that would fill a wheelbarrow.
Best of all is that even the most basic model, the $36,990 SWB van, offers a new level of comfort, convenience and safety for hard-working drivers.
The Multivan range comprises six 7-seat models with Comfortline, Highline and Executive trim levels and a special called Generation SIX, with retro two-tone paintwork that recalls the original Kombi style. A separate model called Caravelle comes standard with nine seats. The seats behind the driver are removable or foldable in various configurations, providing a very large and versatile load space.
These are solid, refined, extremely comfortable vans and drive beautifully. The only minor negative for someone with creaky knees is that it’s a fair step up to the front seats.
If the T6 is too big for your needs or your garage, similar choices are available in the smaller Caddy range, which has been updated on the platform of the excellent Golf 7.
For owners who put substance above style, the compact Caddy van will suit delivery drivers or tradespeople. There’s a 7-seat version and one for work crews or families with five seats and a load area that would swallow a complete camping set-up. An active couple would find the van practical for everything from house renovations to grey-nomad touring.
Being closer to a passenger vehicle than a commercial, the new Caddy is available with numerous driving and safety aids from curtain/head airbags, to city emergency braking, multi-collision braking, driver fatigue detection, reversing camera, 360-degree monitoring, navigation, active cruise control, voice-controlled navigation, an app connection to access all your smartphone’s features and self-parking. Commercial vans used to be bare-bones basic, but imagine yourself as a busy city delivery driver and how useful these latest features would be.
In the Caddy you’re effectively driving a Golf with a big back. It isn’t as refined or nimble, but it’s very driveable and way more practical. I like its full-width overhead parcel shelf.
There’s only one engine for now, a 92 kiloWatt petrol unit with fuel-saving idle-stop. Volkswagen promises an economical diesel next year, presumably after it sorts out, er . . . certain recent technical difficulties.
Caddy prices start from $28,190.