Toyota HiLux Workmate 4x4 auto dual cab 2016 review
As we approach the biggest month for ute sales, we get acquainted with the cheapest version of the top-selling 4WD.
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Mark Oastler road tests and reviews the 2016 VW Transporter T6 TDI340 Single Cab with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
For many commercial load-lugging jobs, today's wide selection of single cab-cab/chassis light commercials from Thailand, with one tonne-plus payload ratings will get the job done. However, they only have seating for two and their cabs can be quite a tight fit for bigger blokes.
So if you need to haul a genuine one tonne-plus payload but want the more generous space and all-round vision of a forward control-style cab, plus a swimming pool-sized tray and enough seating for a three-man crew, a vehicle like Volkswagen's latest T6 (sixth generation) Transporter could be just the business partner you need – at a price.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the genuine VW aluminium tray. The T6's front wheels are driven by a 2.0 litre inline four cylinder turbo diesel with 103kW at 3500rpm and more importantly peak torque of 340Nm from 1750-2500rpm. Transmission is the seven-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) dual-clutch auto with Sport mode and handy Tiptronic function for manual shifting when required.
The T6 is designed purely as a work tool with a spacious and functional interior.
The generous 3400mm wheelbase features MacPherson strut front and semi-trailing arm/coil spring rear suspension, which defies conventional wisdom that only horse-and-cart rear leaf springs can handle big payloads. Wheels are 16-inch steels with 215/65 R16 tyres plus a full-size spare.
Its long wheelbase allows a massive tray with internal dimensions of just under three metres in length (2939mm) and two metres in width (1940mm), which is substantially longer and wider than rival 4x2 trays available in this weight division. Combined with the 392mm-high drop-sides, that's a huge 'fenced-in' volume of 2.23 cubic metres, including eight lashing rings for load restraint.
The T6 is designed purely as a work tool with a spacious and functional interior, right down to the hose-me-out thick rubber floor covering. All the controls are well laid out and easy to use, particularly the dashboard location of the stubby gearshift which falls naturally to hand and keeps the floor clear of clutter. There's also a multitude of well-placed storage nooks.
Its work-only focus doesn't mean it scrimps on useful features or comforts like the 5.0-inch colour touchscreen display which is the hub for all radio and driver audio functions including Bluetooth. There's also a leather-covered steering wheel incorporating all audio, telephone, cruise control and multi-function display controls where they're easy to see and operate. It also has tilt and reach adjustment.
The driver's seat is reasonably comfortable with height and lumbar support adjustment. A big bonus is the separate passenger bench seat, which will take two big blokes at a squeeze if required. It also has handy under-seat storage and there's also a generously-sized driver footrest.
Getting in and out of the spacious cab is easy with the combination of its wide door openings, deep side-steps and stout grab handles mounted on each A-pillar.
the T6 is an enjoyable drive in city and suburban duties, with or without a load.
All-round driver vision is also excellent thanks to a relatively short bonnet, high driving position, large glass areas, low door trim heights and proper truck mirrors. However, a reversing camera would be a useful safety feature for a vehicle of this size and length, particularly when carrying tall loads that block your view out of the rear window.
With its responsive turbo diesel and DSG, four-coil suspension, four wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering, the T6 is an enjoyable drive in city and suburban duties, with or without a load. Manoeuvring in tight spots like car parks, loading docks, timber yards and the like is pretty stress-free thanks to good all-round vision and an excellent turning circle.
Front wheel drive traction could be considered an issue with a big load on board (pulling instead of pushing etc) but we didn't experience any problems in that area thanks to the Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Diff Lock (EDL) which come standard. The T6 is also rated to tow up to 2500kg braked.
VW figures claim a tare weight of 1584kg and GVM of 3000kg leaving an impressive payload rating of 1416kg or just over 1.4 tonnes (minus tray weight). While that exceeds the typical payload ratings of Japanese light truck-based 4x2 cab-chassis, keep in mind many rival manufacturers usually quote kerb weight (full tank of fuel) rather than tare weight (10 litres of fuel).
So let's compare apples with apples here. If you add another 70 litres of diesel to the T6's 80-litre tank, or about another 60kg, that 1416kg payload figure drops to 1356kg. Still impressive, although a much cheaper rival, like Nissan's NP300 Navara RX Single Cab Cab-Chassis 4x2 with 2.3 litre diesel, manual transmission and rear leaf springs can more than match it on paper (1362kg). So it's important to do these calculations first, if peak payload figures are your primary consideration.
We put the VW's theoretical 2.23 cubic metres of contained load volume to the test by loading 2.0 cubic metres of freshly-cut firewood. With a full tank of diesel and 92kg driver, the T6 showed 2720kg on the weighbridge, so it still had another 280kg of legal payload capacity. That was more than enough margin to carry another two unsuspecting mates in the cab to help unload it!
With about a tonne of firewood on its back, the T6's coil-sprung rear suspension dropped a noticeable 60mm. However, we were pleasantly surprised not to feel the bump stops at any stage when hauling this load, which showed that VW has done its homework on this set-up.
The seven-speed DSG offers three distinct driving modes – Auto, Sport and Tiptronic - but we found the best compromise was Sport. In full Auto mode, downshifts are delayed for way too long leaving the engine groaning along at 1400-1500rpm, which is well below its 1750-2500rpm optimum torque curve.
However, pull the stick back into Sport and the engine feels much happier particularly when lugging a big load. The DSG's sharper shift points keep the turbo-diesel spinning sweetly at around 2000-2200rpm, which is right in the middle of its maximum torque zone at all speeds up to the 110km/h legal maximum. Sport mode also produces well-spaced sequential downshifts when slowing down or stopping, to assist with engine braking and ensure it's always in the right gear when you accelerate again.
Fuel consumption during our test averaged 12.4L/100km, which included a variety of unloaded and heavily loaded open road and city-suburban driving with the annoying engine stop/start function switched off. By comparison, VW claims 9.5L/100km urban and 7.2L/100km combined.
The T6 model we tested starts at $44,690. If you want the genuine VW aluminium tray as fitted to ours ($2490) that increases to $47,180 plus on-roads. By comparison, 4x2 single cab/cab-chassis variants of popular LCVs like HiLux, Ranger, Navara, Triton etc are also rated to carry one tonne-plus payloads but have drive-away-with-tray pricing from around $31,000.
That's a massive price difference of more than 50 per cent, so you have to ask yourself if the T6 Transporter's unique features including an enormous tray, seating for three, seven-speed DSG, four-coil suspension, four wheel disc brakes, extra-long wheelbase (for other tray/custom body options) etc are worth all that extra coin. For some applications, it could be worth every cent of it.
Front/side/head airbags, radio/CD player (MP3/WMA/AUX/SD/USB), Bluetooth connectivity, Hill Hold Control, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Driver Alert (Fatigue Detection System).
Reversing camera or rear park distance control with acoustic warning.
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