The Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 2020 is finally on UK roads and VanGuide.co.uk was on-hand to test the new model at the launch in Birmingham. The alterations are mainly cosmetic, although there is a new electro-mechanical steering system, tech upgrades and slightly more powerful outputs.
- Last-ever ‘truly Volkswagen’ Transporter
- New electro-mechanical steering from VW Crafter
- Petrol engine dropped from line-up
- Mid-spec Trendline dropped from line-up
- Power range now 90PS to 199PS (previously 84PS to 204PS)
- Redesigned front end
- Redesigned dashboard
- Slight trim upgrades
Volkswagen first launched the Transporter, known then as the Type 2, back in 1950 and in its 68-year history has gone on to sell almost 13 million examples. The most recent version, the Transporter T6, went on sale in 2015, although the van hasn’t altered much since the T5 was introduced in 2003.
The German manufacturer has long employed a policy of evolution, rather than revolution, with its commercial vehicles. Instead of larger overhauls, Volkswagen prefers to embark on smaller updates, more frequently.
While Volkswagen states the current model, the T6, was introduced in 2015 – its basically an evolution of the T5 which hit the market in 2003 as it is based on the same 7H / 7J platform.
As expected, the visual appearance of the 2020 Transporter doesn’t differ greatly from the current model. The only notable differences are to the grille, lights and front bumper.
The split grille design of the previous generation has been integrated into one, large grille, which helps increase the airflow to the engines, which have been slightly optimised to meet the latest emission standard. The headlights are slightly narrower and the fog light surrounds have also been altered.
VW Transporter T6.1 2020 specification
Inside, the dashboard has been replaced by one of a similar, horizontal design but with diagonal lines which is more appealing and more functional thanks to a new 230v socket and increased storage space including a lockable compartment under the passenger bench.
Available as an option is the third generation of the modular infotainment matrix (MIB3) with 9.2-inch display and a SIM reader to allow access to an array of web-based functions and services.
New features also include central locking, electric windows, electrically-adjustable and heated wing mirrors, LED interior lights, and the new ‘Composition Audio’ radio system with Bluetooth. The electromagnetic steering from the Crafter has also been introduced, as has crosswind assist, lane keeping assist and automatic parking.
Unlike the previous generation, there is only two trim levels – the Startline and Highline. The Trendline, which made-up less than 10% of sales, has been dropped from the line-up but a Sportline will be added later in 2020.
View full 2020 VW Transporter T6.1 specs & prices
VW Transporter T6 2020 engines
Volkswagen has adapted the 2.0-litre EA189 engine to achieve the latest Euro 6D, or Euro 6.2, emission standard. To achieve this, the power ratings have been affected so that it only now ranges from 90hp to 199PS (previously 84PS to 204PS):
- 90PS (89hp) at 3,000-3,750rpm / 220Nm at 1,250-2750rpm
- 110PS (108hp) at 3,200-3,750rpm / 250Nm at 1,400-3,000rpm
- 150PS (148hp) at 3,250-3,750rpm / 340Nm at 1,500-3,000rpm
- 199PS (196hp) at 3,800-4,000rpm / 450Nm at 1,400-2,400rpm
They will be hooked to either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed DSG automatic and available as either a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (4Motion). There will also be an electric version (read more about the Volkswagen e-Transporter).
Ride and handling
Although the output increases haven’t been huge (between 6PS and 8PS), the lower-end torque makes the two entry level engines feel spritelier. Elsewhere, its pretty much business as usual with 150PS winning our vote – packing plenty of punch even with half a load on board.
The chassis and suspension remain unchanged and the only noticeably difference is the speed adaptable electro-mechanical steering, which is lighter and more accurate. Out of all the large vans, the Transporter has more of a large van feel with its raised driving position and greater body roll. However, it’s incredibly refined and deals with the bumps and divots of everyday roads extremely well.
More practical load area
To bring it in-line with a lot of its stablemates, Volkswagen has introduced a new load-through facility to load longer items. A hole in the bulkhead allows items to be loaded underneath the passenger bench, increasing the maximum load length to 2,800mm (SWB) and 3,300mm (LWB); an increase of 400mm.
View full VW Transporter T6.1 2020 dimensions (same as previous generation)
VW Transporter T6.1 payload and weights
Gross vehicle weights vary between 2,600kg (T26) and 3,200kg (T32) and payloads between 713kg and 1,309kg – which is quite poor considering the Transit Custom and Vauxhall Vivaro both top out at over 1.4 tonnes. There is a 2.2t towing capacity on the 90PS and 110PS models and 2.5t on 150PS and 199PS.
Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 2020 price and availability
The new Transporter arrived into dealerships (67 VW Van Centres plus 30 authorised repairers in the UK) in small numbers in December 2019, but only arrived in volume in January 2020. Prices now very between £21,635 and £28,530 plus VAT for the standard Startline and a whopping £26,125 and £36,075 plus VAT for the Highline. The Transporter is covered by a 3-year, 100,000-mile manufacturer warranty.