Most people movers tend to fall into one of two design categories: forgettable family blobs, or frighteningly massive hunks of truck-based steel. The 2021 Volkswagen Transporter, however, proves that you can package exceptional practicality in something that’s been styled to be distinctly different from most of its people-moving brethren.
They really are trying, let’s give them that. Even more impressive? The Transporter manages to stand tall alongside the competition while riding on one of the oldest platforms in the people mover segment.
There’s a reason why the VW Kombi has been restricted to mostly cosmetic upgrades during its near half a decade long run in VW showrooms. In comparison with the Caravelle and California with which the Kombi shares aspects of its oily bits.
The Kombi’s inability to arrest the attentions of middle Mzansi can be linked to precisely what those who do own an example of the people mover like the most about it: its distinctive looks. Frankly, I’ve been enamored of the vehicle’s squared-off proportions since it first debuted, and the latest model’s snazzy front lighting and grille, combined with its streamlined strakes, is even more exciting.
Haters gonna hate, but anyone who can’t get past the Kombi’s ‘gotta be me’ silhouette is missing out on one of the best-driving large carriers’ money can buy. Before this, it had been several years since I had last sampled the Transporter, in any variant, so we snagged the keys to this model for our annual pilgrimage from Sandton to a close friends’ wedding in Mpumalanga. Although piloting such a big rig all by my lonesome seemed like a waste of the Volkswagen’s capacious cabin, I was eager to put its road trip charisma to the test.
Needless to say, the interior of the 2021 Transporter Kombi is an exceedingly pleasant place to while away the kilometers. Second row accommodations were quite comfortable, and the third set is acceptable for adults.
The Kombi we drove is mated to a 2.0-litre TDI 7 speed engine. You’ll immediately notice the leap from 0 to 100km/h in 12 seconds as soon as you flatten the gas pedal, I was expecting the VW to feel much faster than that, especially on the highway. But in all fairness, it is a large vehicle, and can be much heavy when filled with occupants.
The VW Kombi is truly worthy of consideration from anyone who needs to regularly devour highway miles, particularly with a crew of six or more in tow, and especially if you can swing the extra cost of the TDI. This people mover isn’t perfect, and the passenger compartment isn’t as quiet as you’d find in new haulers– but the rest of what the Kombi has to offer is excellent to the point where I can easily overlook these foibles. I come across very few vehicles in a year that make me reluctant to hand over the keys at the end of our time together, but this is one people mover I’d be happy to permanently park in my own driveway.
The Volkswagen Transporter Kombi is priced from R740 500.