It’s been about four years since the sixth-generation Volkswagen Transporter began the wholesale reboot of the automaker’s range, and it’s fair to say that the 2020 T6.1 arrives – refreshed and updated – on a high. The Germans aren’t typically prone to either smugness or boasting, but with Volkswagen Commercial sales in South Africa still soaring up for the umpteenth year, versus the industry as a whole down over the same period (excluding that one Japanese giant), it’s clear they’re doing something right.
When Volkswagen invited us to the Eastern Cape recently to test drive the new T6.1, we just couldn’t let it pass by as an opportunity to usher us into life post lockdown. With that, we’ve listed 6.1 things you should know about the new T6.1 Caravelle.
1. First Impressions Count
The name of the game for the 2020 T6.1 is massaging the best-seller, then, rather than outright reinvention. It starts with a facelift on the outside, with a new radiator grille, which is now significantly larger and forms a single stylistic unit with the new bumper.
All elements below the bonnet, like the headlights, are new. On all versions two chrome-plated cross-bars link the new headlights to the radiator grille. On the higher specification models a chrome strip also adds a refined touch to the bumper. There are new wheel designs, six new exterior colours and seven newly combined two-tone paintwork finishes, too. We said first impressions count.
2. The Digital Cockpit Will Amaze You
The bigger changes for the T6.1 are inside, however. All T6.1 models now come equipped with a Composition Colour radio system as standard, whereas the Caravelle and California models are equipped with the Discover Pro Media system with navigation as standard and on the Kombi Trendline Plus, it is available as an optional feature to other models.
The graphics of the high-contrast 10.25-inch display have a clear, high-quality look which supports Wireless App-Connect and USB for seamless plug & play for Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
3. There’s Space For Everybody
The T6.1 Caravelle has a seven-seat configuration. There’s a row for three at the back followed by a row of two chairs separated by a stow table at the centre. Up front you’ll find the driver alongside the passenger. Elbow and shoulder room in the second row are particularly broad, with enough room to drop your rucksack in-between if you so desire.
4. Only one engine derivative here
The Caravelle is only being offered as a Highline model good at producing 146kW of power in 4Motion diesel. This is the top of the range engine. The TDI delivers its highest power output between 3 800 and 4 000 rpm. The engine develops its very high maximum torque of 450 Nm between 1 400 and 2 400 rpm. This powerful drive train accelerates the T6.1 to a speed of up to 191 km/h.
5. More Than Meets The Eye
According to Volkswagen, electro-mechanical power steering is being used for the first time in the T6.1. This has two major benefits: unlike the hydraulic system it replaces, the new steering system can be controlled as needed and this reduces fuel consumption.
The electro-mechanical power steering system transmits steering commands to the wheels more directly than the systems in previous models. That makes the T6.1 noticeably more agile and precise.
6. It’s All About Safety
Safety equipment, though, is plentiful and the key systems are standard. There’s blind-spot warnings, rear traffic alerts, and front collision warning with pedestrian monitoring and braking-assistance, standard cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. There’s also trailer assist, side protection which makes manoeuvring easier as well as crosswind assist. The latter applies the brakes (undetected by the driver) if the vehicle encounters a strong crosswind.
6.1 The Finer Details
The Volkwagen T6.1 Caravelle is priced at R1,149,400.00 inclusive of VAT. Alongside that, you get a 5-year/ 60 000km maintenance plan and a 3-year/ 120 000km manufacturer warranty.