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Volkswagen Transporter 2021 review: T6.1

The 2021 Volkswagen Transporter line-up is complex and comprehensive, as always.
EXPERT RATING
7.9
The 2021 Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 range offers something for most buyers, if they're willing to spend extra to customise their work van. Is it good enough to justify its high price?

The Volkswagen Transporter range has been revised for 2021, with the new T6.1 line-up - as VW calls it - retaining an array of options for business buyers.

There’s the traditional vans in both short and long wheelbase, as well as a Crew Van option, and cab-chassis ute versions.

As has long been the case, VW Australia has gone with a relatively complex line-up of models, but also with a huge array of personalisation options for customers to tailor their vehicle to their specific requirements.

As well as that, the new model offers enhanced safety, technology, and a revised look. Is it enough to keep the mid-size VW van in the mix against the impressive Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Partner? Let’s find out.

 

Volkswagen Transporter 2021: TDI250 SWB
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating3 seats
Price from$38,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

This is going to be complicated.

There are so many ways to build your VW Transporter T6.1 that you almost need a maths degree to ascertain the number of possible combinations and permutations.

Suffice to say, though, that the range starts under forty grand for a basic, low-powered manual front-wheel drive (FWD) short wheelbase (SWB), through to a high grade 4Motion all-wheel drive (4WD) long wheelbase (LWB) with a dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission.

All Transporter vans come with a two-seat layout as standard. All Transporter vans come with a two-seat layout as standard.

To make it easier - we hope! - here is a table to break down the Transporter van line-up for you. All Transporter vans come with a two-seat layout as standard, but you can option a bench front passenger seat (pushing accommodation to three seats) for $610 more. The cab-chassis single-cab and dual-cab versions both have a three-seat front setup (so, total three seats in single cab, six in dual cab).

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 VAN RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)







 

SWB Van

TDI250

5-sp manual FWD

$38,990

 

TDI340

6-sp manual FWD

$41,990

7-sp DSG FWD

$44,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$47,990

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$50,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$53,990



 

LWB Van

 

TDI340

6-sp manual FWD

$44,990

7-sp DSG FWD

$47,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$50,990

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$53,990

7-sp DSG AWD

$56,990

There’s also the Transporter Crew Van range, with those versions getting a five-seat layout with a removable second-row bench. The bench has dual ISOFIX points built into the outboard positions, and there are top-tether restraints in the rear roof.

 

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CREW VAN RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)

 

SWB Crewvan

 

TDI340

7-sp DSG FWD

$51,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$54,490

 

LWB Crewvan

 

TDI340

7-sp DSG FWD

$54,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$57,490

You may have noted that the entry-level and higher-spec powertrains aren’t available in the Crew Van, but they are the go-to options for the cab-chassis versions of the Transporter.

Below is a price list of the Transporter Single Cab and Transporter Dual Cab models, all of which come with a factory fit tray.
 

VW TRANSPORTER T6.1 CAB CHASSIS RANGE

Body type

Engine 

Drivetrain

Price (MSRP)

 

LWB Single Cab

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$55,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$58,490

 

LWB Double Cab

 

TDI450

7-sp DSG FWD

$57,490

7-sp DSG AWD

$60,490

Okay, so what about standard equipment for the Transporter range? All grades have standard halogen headlights and daytime running lights, and 16- or 17-inch steel wheels (with optional alloys for the TD340 and TDI450), cloth interior trim, LED interior lighting for cabin and cargo area, rubber floors in the cabin, a multimedia system with a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two USB-C ports and Bluetooth connectivity. You can option navigation for $1600, but there’s a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto headlights, and auto wipers.

All grades have standard 16- or 17-inch steel wheels. All grades have standard 16- or 17-inch steel wheels.

Standard safety tech is improved compared to the previous version - a full rundown can be found in the safety section below - but there’s a reversing camera on all van models (if not equipped with barn doors), while the cab-chassis versions miss out on this important technology.

VW has long forged a position of “build it the way you want it” in the van market, and the T6.1 range is no different. There are hundreds of potential variations on the theme, though note that the standard layout for van models is a kerb-side sliding door and a tailgate. You can option a driver’s side slider ($1300; with power latching - $1520), a kerb-side power latching sliding door ($290), fully electric doors ($860 kerb only, $3600 kerb and driver), side windows ($420 per), sliding side windows ($920 per side), a fixed partition with window ($710), rear airconditioning setup ($1220) or the Transport Package, with a fixed partition (no window), full side plywood trim, two additional tie-downs and side lashing points ($1690).

The Transporter features a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Transporter features a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Choose a van and want the High Roof pack, and you must have barn doors at the back, which deletes the availability of a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. And it’ll cost you between $1790 and $2090, depending on the variant.

A lot of vans may be white, but colours are important for business buyers. There are multiple colour options, including five solid paint options at no cost: Candy White, Ascot Grey, Cherry Red, Luminous Orange and Pure Grey. If you’re willing to pay $1300 you can have your vehicle coated in any of the following hues: Reflex Silver, Indium Grey, Starlight Blue, Ravenna Blue, Deep Black, Mojave Beige, Copper Bronze, Fortana Red or Bay Leaf Green.

A lot of vans may be white, but the Transporter has multiple colour options. A lot of vans may be white, but the Transporter has multiple colour options.

Note, for full colour coding it will cost you an additional $1130 (bumpers, mirrors, handles, grille) for vans, and a little less for the cab chassis models to have colour-matched bumpers ($800).

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. You mightn’t be able to tell them if you’re not looking closely, but that’s only going to help resale values of the existing model…

  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.
  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.
  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.
  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.
  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.
  • There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter. There have been some subtle changes to this facelifted version of the Transporter.


But the distinct little lines that run back from the headlights (like mascara, I’m told) that say “Transporter” in them are a nice touch, and it’s overall a really neat design. Always has been.

The distinct little lines that run back from the headlights that say “Transporter” in them are a nice design touch. The distinct little lines that run back from the headlights that say “Transporter” in them are a nice design touch.

Now, let’s consider some of the other implications of design, namely on the vehicle’s dimensions. Here’s a table to make it easier to digest.

 

SWB Van

LWB Van

LWB High roof 

Single Cab Chassis

Dual Cab Chassis

Length

4904mm

5304mm

5304mm

5500mm

5500mm

Wheelbase

3000mm

3400mm

3400mm

3400mm

3400mm

Width

1904mm

1904mm

1904mm

1994mm

1994mm

Height

1990mm

1990mm

2477mm

1948mm

1948mm

As you can see, there’s a lot of precision measurements there.

What about the cargo area, then? Here’s a rundown of those figures.
 

 

SWB Van

LWB Van

LWB High roof 

Single Cab Chassis

Dual Cab Chassis

Cargo length

2572mm (without partition)

 

2975mm (without partition)

2939mm

2169mm

Cargo width

1700mm

1700mm

1940mm

1940mm

Width between arches

1244mm

1244mm

N/A

N/A

Cargo height

1410mm

1410mm

1940mm

392mm (tray depth)

392mm (tray depth)

Cargo volume

5.8m3

6.7m3

9.3m3

N/A

N/A

The Crewvan versions have a second row in the back, so load length is lessened - there’s 1600mm in the SWB and 1967mm in the LWB. SWB models have six tie-down lashings, while LWB models get eight. The cargo volume for the normal roof SWB Crewvan is 3.5m3, and the LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m3 of cargo space. 

The Crewvan versions have a second row in the back, so load length is lessened. The Crewvan versions have a second row in the back, so load length is lessened.

That’s all the dimensions taken care of, but you might also be interested in some ‘off road dimensions’ especially if you’re going for a 4Motion version. The vans range between 201mm and 202mm of ground clearance, while Cab Chassis models run 202mm unladen.

  • The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space. The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space.
  • The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space. The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space.
  • The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space. The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space.
  • The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space. The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space.
  • The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space. The LWB Crewvan offers 4.4m cubed of cargo space.

There are also optional off road suspension setups available with revised shocks and springs, and even stabilizer bar upgrades if needed. No changes to ride height or approach, departure and breakover angles, though.

What about payload capabilities? Here’s a rundown of load capacity for the vans and cab chassis models, including towing capacity.

 

Van (SWB, LWB, Crewvan)

Cab-chassis

Payload capacity

951kg to 1220kg

853kg to 1056kg

Gross vehicle mass (GVM)

2800kg (TDI250), 3000kg (all others)

Gross combination mass (GCM)

5500kg (all variants)

Towing capacity

750kg unbraked / 2500kg braked

Next, let’s take a look inside the revised cabin of the T6.1 Transporter.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The cabin of the VW Transporter has always been a thoughtful place, a suitable workspace for those who don’t just drive places, but also do paperwork in their ‘mobile office’.

That comes down to a clever level of storage, amenities and comfort. 

The cabin of the VW Transporter has always been a thoughtful place. The cabin of the VW Transporter has always been a thoughtful place.

Let’s start with storage, as there are caddies and cubbies for loose items, documents and more. On the dash top there’s a folder holder, and there’s a shelf section above the glovebox. There are cup holders on top of the edges of the dash, too, and the door pockets have huge storage trenches with bottle holders. 

Seat comfort is excellent, with good adjustment for the driver, and reach/rake adjustment for the leather-lined steering wheel, which is standard in all grades. The only thing missing is a grab handle to haul yourself into the seat if you’re shorter.

The dash design is attractive and certainly more modern than before. The dash design is attractive and certainly more modern than before.

There’s a manual handbrake down on the floor to the left of the driver which is a reach for shorties, too (I wonder if the next-gen model might finally get an electric park brake?), and the new dashboard design has repositioned one of the driver’s air-vents a long way from them. The air-conditioning in one of the test vans was also a bit weak for a warm Aussie day.

But the dash design is attractive and certainly more modern than before, with more angular finishes and new media screens across the range. Though they aren’t that new compared to the brand’s non-commercial offerings, with the 6.5-inch touchscreen unit still offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and two USB-C ports (so you’ll need an adaptor or a new phone cable).

In the Crewvan the back seat space was comfortable but lacking a few features. At the very least, for tradie mums and dads there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points with two top-tether attachment hooks in the rear door area above the cargo hold. The back seat is removable if you only need it sometimes, too.
 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Plenty of options here.

You guessed it - it’s easier to show you in the below table.

 

TDI250

TDI340

TDI450

Engine configuration

2.0L turbo-diesel four-cylinder

2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder

2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder

Power output

81kW at 3500rpm

110kW at 3250-3750rpm

146kW at 4000rpm

Torque output

250Nm at 1250-3100rpm

340Nm at 1500-3000rpm

450Nm at 1400-2400rpm

Transmission

5-sp man

6-sp man/7-sp DSG

7-sp DSG

Having three different outputs to choose from could be a compelling argument for some. If you know you’re okay with a low output manual, then why spend up to a more powerful unit? 

There are a variety of engine options. There are a variety of engine options.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The fuel consumption figures for the different models in the range vary depending on the application. 

Again, rather than run though it all van by van, here’s a breakdown in a table.
 

 

TDI250

TDI340

TDI450

Combined cycle fuel consumption - van models 

6.9L/100km (FWD man)

7.5L/100km (FWD man)

8.3L/100km (FWD/AWD DSG)

7.3L/100km (FWD DSG)
8.0L/100km (AWD DSG)

Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (FWD)

  

7.6L/100km (single cab FWD DSG)

7.5L/100km (dual cab FWD DSG)

Combined cycle fuel consumption - cab-chassis models (AWD)

  

8.4L/100km (single cab AWD DSG)

8.3L/100k m (dual cab AWD DSG)

Fuel tank capacity for the base model TDI250 is 70L, while the rest of the range has 80L fuel tank size.

The TDI250 has engine start stop-technology, but doesn’t have AdBlue. The manual TDI340 and 4Motion TDI340 and TDI450 models doesn’t have either of those efficiency measures. The TDI340 DSG FWD is the only one with AdBlue and start-stop.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

The drive experience is very good. 

At the launch event of the new T6.1 Transporter range, I drove a selection of different models some with weight and some without. 

First was a TDI340 Crewvan with 260kgloaded in, and it was a really nicely sorted drive. 

There was very good ride compliance and comfort. The suspension setup didn’t feel fussy or clunky, and it rode very well. The steering was excellent and very easy to judge, and it was easy to park thanks to its rear side glazing and good sized mirrors - though they aren’t dual pane like some rivals but there is blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a good reversing camera that made reversing into tight spots easier than it probably should be. 

The drive experience is very good with great ride compliance and comfort. The drive experience is very good with great ride compliance and comfort.

The TDI340 powertrain offers a really sweet combination, with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic allowing quick and clever shifts. There’s not much to complain about here, and the powertrain is easy to judge even at takeoff from a standing start - the engine’s start-stop system, DSG and diesel lag wasn’t too inhibitive. It felt really well sorted and certainly powerful enough for the vast majority of van drivers’ needs. 

One complaint on our 25C degree test day was that the air conditioning was a little weak, not quite as cold as we would’ve thought it should be. 

I also drove the base model TDI250 five-speed manual as well. This one didn’t have any weight in it and that was probably a calculated move on VW’s PR team’s part, as it is perhaps a little bit underdone in terms of grunt. With no load it was adequate in terms of the pulling power on urban streets but I do think it might struggle at payload limit. 

I also tested the LWB TDI340 DSG unladen, which was easy to steer despite the extra length, offered great ride compliance and comfort (thanks to the extra 400mm of wheelbase), and good steering as well. For me, the TDI340 is the sweet spot for engines – you don’t really need the TDI450 as the 340 is perfectly suitable.

If you do want extra everything, or if all-wheel drive is a must for your vehicle, then the twin-turbo TDI450 is the go. VW’s 4Motion system is excellent at helping you pull a lot of mass without fuss. I drove it in the crew cab chassis, which was surprisingly speedy with 500kg in the tray. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

There have been advancements to the Transporter’s safety technology list, but the current generation model doesn’t have an ANCAP crash test safety score, and nor did the pre-facelift vehicle. 

All models now come with low speed (up to 30km/h) autonomous emergency braking (AEB) designed for city driving, though it doesn’t have pedestrian or cyclist detection like some rivals. There is blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a reversing camera on van models with the tailgate fitted (barn doors and cab-chassis models miss out on the camera, blind spot and RCTA).

There’s a driver fatigue detection system, and van models score crosswind assist as part of the traction control and stability control system, while all models get the brand’s electronic differential lock to prevent slippage. There’s also multi-collision braking, which ensures you won’t careen into other vehicles after an impact.

Those who want it can option lane keep assist with lane departure warning, though similarly priced vans from rival makers don’t ask extra money for that.
 
There are dual front, front side and curtain airbags for all models. There is no second-row airbag coverage for Crewvan and dual-cab-chassis models.

If you’re looking for a van with more safety technology, be sure to take a squiz at the Toyota HiAce, Ford Transit Custom and Peugeot Expert. 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

As with most van sellers in Australia, VW offers a competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty

There’s one year of roadside assist included for all new models sold. That can be refreshed if you service with VW, up to 10 years.

As with most van sellers in Australia, VW offers a competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.  As with most van sellers in Australia, VW offers a competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. 
The cost of maintenance depends on the drivetrain that you choose in your Transporter. We took an average of the five year Price service plan to give you an idea of annual costs of maintenance, but just remember these are set at 12 month/15,000km intervals. The TDI250 and TDI340 models will cost you $588.40 per annum on average. That’s high. But choose the TDI450 in FWD and the average cost is $636.40 per annum, and the 4Motion model is dearer again at $678.80 (avg). 

Comparatively this is an expensive van to own.

Verdict

There are more affordable vans out there to purchase and own. But not many offer the level of personalisation and quality, not to mention ease-of-use and drivability as the VW T6.1 Transporter range. 

My pick would be a TDI340 DSG van in LWB, but there are several choices that would suit multiple different user cases. 
 

Pricing guides

$49,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$38,990
Highest Price
$60,490

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
TDI450 LWB 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $55,490 2021 Volkswagen Transporter 2021 TDI450 LWB Pricing and Specs
TDI450 LWB 4Motion 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $58,490 2021 Volkswagen Transporter 2021 TDI450 LWB 4Motion Pricing and Specs
TDI250 SWB 2.0L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $38,990 2021 Volkswagen Transporter 2021 TDI250 SWB Pricing and Specs
TDI340 LWB 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $44,990 2021 Volkswagen Transporter 2021 TDI340 LWB Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality9
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving9
Safety7
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Managing Editor - Head of Video

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Pricing Guide

$38,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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