Introduction to VW Transporter models

The range of VW Transporter models can be quite daunting, in this guide we will explain each of the vw van models that are presently available at the time of writing this (2021) and compares some of the key differences on the vw transporter trendline vs highline.

There are over 15 variations of the VW Transporter models in the UK alone which gives great flexibility of choice however does require some careful research to understand all of the options.

VW Transporter models explained

VW Transporter models explained

From 2013 onwards VW have sold their VW Transporter models range under the following four trims –

Most recently with the launch of the T6.1 however the Trendline and Sportline have since been discontinued.

It is worth considering which trim to buy carefully as the higher spec trims offer significant savings vs buying individual options.

For example if you start with a Startline and add options it can work out dearer than just selecting a higher spec trim with no options to start with.

Startline is the cheapest in the range with all basic options through to the Sportline at the top end of the range which has the most features as standard – including larger alloys, interior and exterior design upgrades (seats etc) as well as other refinements such as LED lights..

It is important to point out that whilst these are 4 suggested “trims” by VW you can buy a Startline as an example and pay for additional options that would be found on a Sportline.

If you are buying second hand it is worth asking the question about any upgrades that may have been added from the standard trim.

VW Transporter Startline specifications

  • Multi-function display/on-board computer “Medium”with Mobile phone interface
  • Radio “Composition Colour” with 6.5-inch touch screen
  • 4 speakers (passive)
  • Load lashing rings for cargo tie down points in rear of van
  • Remote central locking on all doors (rear plus side door)
  • App-Connect compatible with Android and Apple phones giving hands free calls etc
  • Electric front windows for driver and passenger
  • Heated door mirrors, electric adjustment from inside the cab
  • Power steering
  • Steering wheel adjustment (reach and rake so it can go up, down, forwards, backwards towards driver)
  • Steering wheel comes with a hard-wearing leather rim
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Hard wearing rubber floor lining

VW Transporter Trendline specifications

  • 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard which has inbuilt DAB radio, Bluetooth and Two USB connections
  • Body-coloured door mirrors and bumpers
  • Electric front windows for driver and passenger
  • Heated door mirrors, electric adjustment from inside the cab
  • Single front passenger seat as opposed to the 2 passenger seat layout
  • 12v socket X 2
  • Rear parking sensors
  • From 2018 the panel van variant comes with a full-height steel bulkhead
  • Cargo area side lining (half height)
  • Sliding side door on passenger side
  • Steel 16-inch wheels
  • Driver’s armrest
  • Passenger armrest on kombi’s only
  • The comfort pack which includes extra sound deadening for a quieter ride
  • Cruise control

VW Transporter Highline specifications

  • Multi-function display/on-board computer “Medium”with Mobile phone interface
  • Radio “Composition Colour” with 6.5-inch touch screen
  • 4 speakers (passive)
  • Load lashing rings for cargo tie down points in rear of van
  • Remote central locking on all doors (rear plus side door)
  • Front fog lights that have inbuilt cornering function
  • App-Connect compatible with Android and Apple phones giving hands free calls etc
  • Alarm system fitted as standard
  • Air-conditioning
  • Electric front windows for driver and passenger
  • Heated door mirrors, electric adjustment from inside the cab
  • Power steering
  • Steering wheel adjustment (reach and rake so it can go up, down, forwards, backwards towards driver)
  • Steering wheel comes with a hard-wearing leather rim
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Hard wearing rubber floor lining
  • Body-coloured bumpers, door mirrors and door handles
  • Adaptive speed limiter cruise control
  • Headlights and wipers with automatic setting
  • Heated windscreen for cold starts
  • Electric, heated and folding door mirrors
  • Parking sensors on both front and back of Transporter

VW Transporter Sportline specifications

  • Only available with 204hp BiTDI engine with DSG transmission
  • Discovery Media sat-nav infotainment system with 6.33-inch touchscreen and App-Connect
  • Body-coloured door mirrors and bumpers
  • Electric front windows for driver and passenger
  • Heated door mirrors, electric adjustment from inside the cab
  • 12v socket X 2
  • Rear parking sensors
  • From 2018 the panel van variant comes with a full-height steel bulkhead
  • Cargo area side lining (half height)
  • LED headlights
  • Dark-tinted LED rear lights
  • Sliding side door on passenger side
  • Driver’s armrest
  • Air-conditioning
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Automatic lights and wipers. Front foglights with cornering function
  • Heated windscreen
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • Lowered suspension
  • Alarm
  • Front and rear parking sensors plus reversing camera
  • High-gloss black roof and door mirrors
  • Power-folding door mirrors
  • Power-latching side door
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Edition graphics
  • The comfort pack which includes extra sound deadening for a quieter ride
  • Cruise control
  • Sportline specific front bumper
  • Door mirror housings with carbon fibre finish
  • Puddle lights on sidebars
  • Spoiler on rear
  • Black and red leather seats
  • Dual front passenger seat

VW Transporter models

In addition to the trim levels above the following VW Transporter models are sold:

VW Transporter Kombi specification

Typically has 5 seats and rear side windows to both sides of the Transporter

  • Carpet flooring in cab
  • Single front passenger seat fitted with armrests
  • Comfort dashboard with wide centre console and bottle holder
  • Two-seater rear bench plus single individual seat with an option to change to a three seater bench instead
  • It is worth noting here that a factory fitted three seater bench in a Kombi will not fit a factory fitted two + one seater configuration and vice versa as the floor mounts are different.

VW Transporter Shuttle specification

This is sold as a basic people carrier with 8 or 9 seats as standard and windows in all panels

VW Shuttle specification
Inside a VW shuttle

VW Transporter Caravelle

The Caravelle is a high spec refined MPV vehicle with 8 seats as standard with two models to choose from (SE and Executive). It is only available in SWB variants.

The caravelle seating is flexible with 2 seats in front,  a 2nd row of 2 which also rotate and a 3rd row which is a 3-seat bench.

On the second hand market they hold a higher value (view examples here) but can be worth the extra, especially if you want the flexibility of sliding doors on both sides on the vehicle.

Even the older T4 Caravelle’s demand a higher price on the second hand market and some of the components off them are highly sought after for use as upgrades on lower specification models (EG the more robust chrome door handles, electric windows and so on).

Caravelle specification
Inside a Caravelle

All seats can be rearranged using the floor rails that span the vehicle. This gives the Caravelle a very flexible interior.

VW Transporter Panel van

As the name suggests, this is the basic panel van usually purchased for use in the commercial sector that is available in T26 up to T32 specifications.

VW Transporter T26 T27 T28 T30 and T32 model differences

In addition to the trims and models discussed above, the vehicles are available in T26 T27 T28, T30 and T32 guise!

This is simple to understand however, the number denotes the max weight of the vehicle.

The higher the number the higher the payload.

VW T6 SWB gross vehicle weights

  • T26 – 2.6 tonnes
  • T27 2.7 tonnes (T6 only)
  • T28 – 2.8 tonnes
  • T30 – 3.0 tonnes
  • T32 – 3.2 tonnes

The biggest difference on these VW Transporter models however – the T32 has different suspension components as well as upgraded brakes on the higher BHP models (180 and 204bhp) than it’s lower weight counterparts to enable it to carry a higher payload safely.

VW Transporter T32 suspension
Heavy duty VW T6 T32 suspension components

Some versions of the T32 VW Transporter models also require a slightly more expensive MOT due to its weight falling into the class 7 MOT category.

VW T6 T32 MOT class

Best VW T6 model for a camper conversion

If you are considering using a VW Transporter for a campervan conversion the most popular choice of the VW Transporter models is usually the T30 which gives enough payload buffer for the heavy rock and roll beds, water tank, gas canister, leisure battery, bicycles, roof pop tops, cargo for camping etc!

The T32 is slightly less popular for conversions as the uprated suspension, brakes, etc make it a slightly harder Transporter to modify and requires higher load rated alloys etc.

Hhigh spec conversion on VW T6 showing good use of space

The T26 is generally seen as being a lesser preferred option as its lower payload is quite restrictive on a camper conversion usability although is still adequate for more basic conversions carrying less passengers.

Most conversions start from a Kombi specification which already has the side window and a slightly nicer interior however Panel vans can be cheaper to buy second hand and convert.

Transporter M1 and N1 taxation class explained

The Transporter models span both commercial specification (such as the panel vans) as well as more car-based specifications such as the Shuttles and Carevelle.

The Shuttle and Carevelle’s along with some Kombis are classed as M1 and use the car based tax system that is calculated on emissions (this makes their road tax higher than N1’s).

However as they are M1 in class they have the benefit of travelling legally at the same speed as cars in the UK (60/70/70mph) depending of road class (B road, A Road, Dual carriageway and Motorway)

Generally speaking the commercial spec panel vans and most Kombis fall into the N1 tax bracket which has the standard £240 tax for commercial vehicles.

Commercial vehicles carrying the N1 tax allocation are also limited to van speed limits 50/60 and 70MPH depending on road classification in the UK (B road, A Road, Dual carriageway, and Motorway).

There are some exemptions to this rule however.

Some Kombi’s and some 4 motions are classed as dual-purpose vehicles where car speed limits apply.

More can be found on the .Gov website about this HERE

“Dual purpose vehicles
A dual purpose vehicle is a vehicle constructed or adapted for the carriage both of passengers and of goods and designed to weigh no more than 2,040 kg when unladen, and is either:

constructed or adapted so that the driving power of the engine is, or can be selected to be, transmitted to all wheels of the vehicle
or

permanently fitted with a rigid roof, at least one row of transverse passenger seats to the rear of the driver’s seat and will have side and rear windows – there must also be a minimum ratio between the size of passenger and stowage areas”

VW Transporter engine specifications

The above models are available with several different engine specifications including Manual, Automatic as well as front wheel drive or 4 motion (4 wheel drive).

VW have reduced the number of engine variants in later models which used to span different capacities as well as BHP. Their range is much easier to understand.

The latest model of T6.1 is available in in the following specification

  • 90hp (single turbo) – 5 speed gear box
  • 110hp(single turbo) – 5 speed gear box
  • 150hp (single turbo) – 6 speed with option to upgrade to DSG auto or 4motion
  • 199hp (twin turbo) – DSG Auto with option to 4motion

The older higher spec model T6’s had a max power of 204BHP. They have suffered a light decline on the latest T6.1 due to tight emission controls in the EU.

There is also a choice of petrol engines that were added in 2017 a 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine is available in 150bhp or 204bhp variants.

Transporter LWB and SWB

Just to add one final choice you can buy your desired Transporter in either SWB or LWB trim on some of the payload variants above. The LWB stands for Long wheel based (as opposed to short wheel base). This essentially equates to an extra 40cm in length to be specific!

Transporter sportline specification
Example high spec LWB Sportline

VW Transporter trendline vs highline

Other than the price tag, the typical difference between a trendline and highline is:

  • Automatic lights and wipers
  • Heated windscreen
  • Air-conditioning
  • Front fog lights with cornering function
  • Alarm
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel

What is the best VW transporter engine

The highest specification Transporter engine available on the market in 2020 is the 199hp (twin turbo) – DSG Auto with option to 4motion.

VW T6 Engine specification

What is the difference between VW Transporter T28 and T30

Simply put, there is no physical difference between a T28 or T30. The suspension, brakes, chassis is all exactly the same. The only difference is that the paperwork on the T30 allows for a 200KG higher payload (The T28 has a max payload of 917kg vs T30 payload of 1117kg) depending on variant.

Check your chassis plate or log book to 100% verify which variant you have.

What is the difference between VW Transporter and Caravelle

In a nut shell, the VW caravelle has 8 seats (that are clip in, clip out removeable) and is typically sold only in the Trendline trim. This gives the caravelle more of a “MPV car” feel than its panel van counterpart. It is frequently used as great large family vehicles, minibuses and high end taxi use in the UK.

What is the difference between VW Shuttle and Caravelle

The Caravelle is a much higher specification version of the Shuttle with much higher interior refinement.  The Caravelle retails at circa £10k more than the Shuttle new. In used trim the Caravelle holds a value of around £5k higher than its Shuttle counterparts.

VW T6 Caravelle interior
Inside a Caravelle showing sliding seats

VW Caravelle’s are famously featured in the UK show The Apprentice.

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