Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle T30 SE 2.5 TDI 8-seater — MotorBar Road Test

16 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle T30 SE 2.5 TDI 8-seater — MotorBar Road Test

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147;VW#146;s heavy-duty

people-mover is far

more accommodating

than any other MPV. #148;

What do you do if, like many couples today on their second marriage, you suddenly find that the four children you ‘ ve always shoehorned into the family estate have become six children, a nanny and a dog? The answer is simple. Buy a Transporter Shuttle.

Unlike the Volkswagen Caravelle, which has seven seats based on a unique rail system and competes very well in the luxury MPV market, VW’s Transporter Shuttle is available in two wheelbases with seating not just for eight but up to nine people. In standard form, the Transporter Shuttle seats eight with two in the front and two rows of three behind. The ninth seat is available as an option and, when specified, is located in the front row as a dual passenger seat.

Ideal for large or extended families, it combines space with MPV flexibility. Despite being larger than the average MPV, the 4890mm Transporter is far from unwieldy. To give you an idea of size, it’s actually 7.5 inches longer and 6.4 inches wider than a Passat Estate.

In point of fact, thanks to its vast screen, fine visibility and commanding driving position, the stylishly boxy Shuttle is amazingly easy to drive.

And, as high as the Shuttle appears, its 1969mm height stays on the right side of the horizontal bar to gain entry into multi-storey car parks. And yes, we did stop, get out and check the first time! The good news is that large, easy-sliding rear side doors mean that what you gain in interior width you don’t lose in car park access.

And for some reason we can’t explain, kids just love using those sliding doors.

The high ‘command and control’ driving position has benefits other than ease of driving. As well as improved safety, the Transporter’s high-riding rear passengers can enjoy the scenery through the huge windows, with grandstand views over walls and hedges. They also get their own dedicated air conditioning delivered via aircraft style roof vents and face-level outlets built into the door pillars.

Integrated into the full-width roof consoles are powerful personal lights good enough to read by without squinting.

Four advanced TDI PD diesel engines are available to Shuttle buyers: two 1.9-litre units with outputs of 85 and 104bhp, and two five-cylinder 2.5-litre powerplants delivering 130 and 174bhp. The larger engines are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of six-speed Tiptronic automatic on the TDI PD 130 PS. For extra traction #151; for example when towing a boat from a riverbank #151; 4MOTION four-wheel drive is offered as an option on TDI PD 130 PS versions.

All four engines use Volkswagen’s proven and award-winning ‘Pumpe Dьse’ technology. Volkswagen has for a long time been at the forefront of diesel technology and its latest system is known as ‘Pumpe Dьse’ or ‘PD’ technology. Pumpe Dьse translates as ‘unit injector’ and describes a fuel injection system that can operate at pressures of up to 30,000psi.

These higher injection pressures mean better mixing of fuel and air and allow more fuel and air to be burnt cleanly in each cylinder of the catalysed TDI engine, resulting in higher torque yet little or no change in fuel consumption or CO2 emissions.

Just because you need all that room doesn’t mean you have to forgo the usual luxuries. In addition to standard fit items such as ABS, traction control, air conditioning, power heated mirrors and auto one-shot up/down electric windows, optional kit includes alloy wheels, cruise control, sunroof and heated seats.

Out on the road it won’t take you very long to realise just how deceptive figures can be. On paper the Shuttle’s 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds doesn’t sound especially fast but with a muscular 295lb ft of torque at 2,000rpm on tap it can really sprint off the line. The smooth-running 2,460cc 5-cylinder engine is also remarkably flexible, pulling strongly all the way across its rev range to provide good mid-range and top-end performance.

Maximum speed is well above the legal limit, at 117mph.

W e managed several long runs over the course of clocking up 600 miles in a few days and regularly saw 41mpg logged by the on-board computer while we were, as they say, keeping up with the traffic. Compare this with the official figure of 44.8 for a steady 56mph. Our test average (a fair mix of town and motorways) worked out to 32mpg, not far short of VW’s figure of 35.3mpg. Which means the 17.6-gallon fuel tank can go for well over 600 miles between refills.

Again, we are at pains to point out that we could have, with more lightfooted driving, done better.

Undoubtedly helping consumption is the long-legged sixth gear which sees 70mph coming up at just 2,000rpm, making cruising a relaxed affair. And, being a diesel, the Shuttle is content to waft along at these speeds all day long while still keeping more than half again in hand.

Even at higher motorway speeds there’s very little engine or wind noise and, talking of gears, the stubby gearlever is mounted centrally on the dashboard less than a hand’s breadth from the left-hand rim of the steering wheel and is ideally sited for quick and easy changes. Better still, it has a fast, short-throw action.

Considering the Shuttle’s size, it handles well with little roll through corners. The front-wheel drive set-up ensures handling is safe and neutral. The ride is comfortable and the well-weighted rack-and-pinion steering light and precise, providing decent feedback along with a surprisingly tight turning circle.

Visibility benefits from large exterior mirrors and the Shuttle’s large glass areas, but we still appreciated the optional rear parking sensors (Ј165) fitted to our test car.

The Shuttle’s braking system features discs all round and, as standard, a four-channel ABS anti-locking system, TCS traction control system, EBD electronic brake-pressure distribution (that automatically alters front/rear braking effort to maximise braking performance) and an electronic differential lock (EDL). Brake pedal feel is good and stopping reassuring. The 215/65 tyres riding on 6.5J steel wheels provide grip without compromising ride comfort.

The cabin is light and airy, with loads of head, shoulder, elbow and leg room. The front ‘comfort’ seats proved to be exactly that and it is noticeably so on long journeys. Both front seats have an adjustable armrest on each side as well as generous height adjustment and adjustable lumbar support. All controls are within easy reach and ergonomics good, with logical white-on-black dials with red needles grouped in a logical four-dial cluster dead ahead of the driver.

Driving at night is made more pleasant by decent lights and restful blue instrument illumination.

The optional SatNav, which comes with a monochrome screen and includes a trip computer as well as a single CD, is definitely worth considering. We found it simple to use and you don’t really need to look at the manual. It provides clear guidance and, priced at Ј875, you’d kick yourself if you didn’t tick the box for it to be included. Fitted, it’s sited high up on the centre of the dash where it’s easy to see.

Directional navigation graphics are also shown on the multifunction display between the rev counter and speedometer dials.

Finding the perfect driving position is made easy by the height and reach adjustable four-spoke steering wheel. Access to the rear seats is via sliding doors, one either side of the Shuttle. Electrical operation is optional. Mesh roller blinds, neatly integrated into the door cappings, are fitted as standard to all four rear side windows. The sliding side doors also have neat sliding windows which can be locked in any one of five open positions.

Each door opens to reveal a single step recessed into the floor, which not only makes entry and exit easy but safer too, because when closed the doors keep the steps clean and dry.

Eight #151; or nine #151; seats aside, the Shuttle scores when it comes to practicality. Taking out the rear two rows of seats (easily done, but they are heavy and best lifted by two people) gives you a huge, flat uncluttered load space with six strong load lashing rings in the floor; approximately 96 inches long by 48 inches wide by five feet high.

As it happens, one of our staff was in the process of downsizing her home the week before we reviewed the Shuttle and, naturally, it gave us an opportunity to try out the load space. It swallowed a chunky wardrobe and large sideboard with room enough for many smaller items. Shuttle owners should have no problem moonlighting as light removal men on their weekends!

The huge, full-width tailgate lifts up easily on strong rams, making getting even large items in and out a doddle. It’s also big enough to provide a welcome shelter when loading/unloading in the wet. A convenient strap helps pull it back down afterwards, and the tailgate can also be opened from inside.

The Shuttle’s cabin has plenty of storage room for oddments including an overhead cubby and storage pockets at each end of the dashboard, beneath the air vents. Door pockets are extremely accommodating with two rigid bins in each front door panel. Each front seat has pre-formed and built-in side pockets.

There’s also a mesh pocket on the passenger side of the dashboard as well as a lockable glovebox inset into the top of the fascia. Additionally, there’s a slide out ashtray (ideal for coins!) with a pair of one-size-fits-all can/cup holders.

Shuttle Safety is well addressed. In addition to ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution there is EBC (Engine Braking Control), Traction Control and an Electronic Differential Lock #151; all standard equipment. There is also an optional Electronic Stabilisation Programme #151; a sophisticated system that automatically senses any tendency for the vehicle to slide. Should this happen, ESP reacts by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusts the engine’s power.

In this way, it is possible that a skid is corrected even before the driver is aware that one has started. Working in conjunction with ESP is Brake Assist, which makes it possible even for unskilled drivers to reduce braking distances by around 25 per cent.

Driver and front passenger airbags are, as you’d expect, standard fit. Side and front curtain airbags are a Ј210 option. The Shuttle’s high standards of ride and safe handling come courtesy of its innovative suspension set-up, advanced safety features and a highly rigid body structure.

Three-point inertia reel belts are fitted on all seats.

In addition, the Shuttle’s bodyshell features a number of crash-safety enhancements. The chassis side members act as the main load paths in the event of a collision and are designed to ‘concertina’, absorbing impact energy as they do so. At collision speeds of up to 9.3mph, the front bumper will absorb impact energy while the body parts located behind will remain undamaged.

This means considerably lower repair bills resulting from around-town manoeuvring and parking knocks.

The cost-per-seat works out very well #151; remembering, of course, that seven seats is usually the limit #151; with the Transporter Shuttle range starting at Ј19,462 OTR for the T30 S TDI PD 85 PS with short wheelbase, topping out at Ј24,926 for the 174bhp long-wheelbase T30 SE TDI PD long wheelbase.

If the kids have flown the nest and you’re feeling sociable, the Shuttle is the answer to your prayers. And we really must point out how enjoyable we found it to drive.

VW Transporter Shuttle T30 SE 2.5 TDI 8-seater | £24 , 280

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