Which VW Transporter Should You Buy?
August 06, 2020 at 10:04 AM
A guide to what to look out for when buying a VW Campervan or converting a Transporter into a Campervan
The famous Volkswagen Transporter Campervan is still hugely popular after 70 years on the road, going all the way back to the first model in the line, the “Splitty”. Now in it’s 6th generation, recently given a face lift, they are modern options for campervan conversion that still holds some of the originals DNA while bringing up to date styling and lots more technology.
But, with so many options available when you first look into buying one, it could become difficult to make a decision. Here, we walk through some of the features and accessories you should consider looking out for when viewing Transporters or already converted campervans and which variant might suit you best.
Which Spec Should I Choose?
Starting with looking at the Volkswagen Transporter before any conversion work has taken place, there are a selection of options you will find, including the engine, drive system and original spec.
The T5 and T6 are available in a few trims including Startline, Trendline, Highline and Sportline which will change what equipment came with the van as standard. Startline is the entry level Transporter, offering the standard equipment found in all Transporters such as cruise control.
Stepping up to the Trendline gets you arm rests, side door storage and improves on the sound deadening over the more basic Startline. The next spec up, the Highline, brings a lot more of the features you find in most VW cars, such as a heated windscreen and mirrors, climate control, automatic wipers.
Finally, as the name suggests, the Sportline adds a much sportier look and comes with the 204bhp BiTDI engine to provide performance that matches most common family hatchbacks. You will also get things like sporty seats and a DSG gearbox to offer the most exciting driving experience in the range.
Given that this is to be converted into a campervan, we would suggest if possible, try to go for a Trendline or better to add as much out of the box comfort as possible and unless you really want the extra power, the mid-range diesel is the best option for drivability and economy.
Another thing to look out for is the rear door. Most commonly, Transporters have barn door style openings where two doors swing open to the sides. But, there is a benefit of having a tailgate opening if you can source a campervan or Transporter with one. This opens up like a family hatchback and provides cover when using the rear of the van, which given the storage options to the rear, might just save you from the UK’s fine weather.
What About Kombi’s?
Not quite as common but ideal for campervan conversion, the Volkswagen Transporter Kombi is as standard a van that can carry up to 6 people and cargo from the factory. As such, there is more sound deadening, carpeting and insulation and a more passenger friendly cab which means it’s a great starter for a camper. These also come fitted as standard with side sliding windows which are something we can and often fit on those vans missing them. If though, you are looking for an already converted Transporter this might not be as important but if you want to start from scratch, these are an excellent starting point.
What about the engine and 4motion?
The engine range is based on Volkswagens popular 2.0 TDI which comes in 3 different power ratings. The starter is a 102bhp and is the most fuel efficient of the range. Next up is a 140bhp (T5) or 150bhp (T6) engine which gives you extra power for carrying passengers and the weight of a conversion and finally, the most powerful option is the 204bhp option. The top rated engine provides ample power for towing and carrying passengers and cargo but you will find lower economy.
Should you intend on journeying off-grid or you know you will be travelling and camping in all weather, there is the option of 4Motion. This will have an impact on fuel consumption as the system adds weight but it does provide some added stability in tricky weather, switching from a 90% front wheel drive setup to 100% rear should the conditions demand. It’s not going to perform like a true off-road car or truck but if you want the added traction it is worth considering.
With that said, we would probably go for the 140bhp or 150bhp engines, depending on which year your van is from. This ensures you won’t feel the van is sluggish, offers plenty of power for towing and cargo and offers a nice middle ground in terms of running costs.
What equipment and accessories should I look to get or add?
There are a lot of options when it comes to what is added to a VW campervan. Obviously, some standard equipment you will find and need in any campervan will include a bed, storage, heating and power.
There are plenty of options here but here at Capels, we’ve narrowed down our choices and use our favourite makes and models in our campervan conversions.
We use “Rock and Roll” beds in our conversions along with customising the front seats. This offers what we think is the best setup, with comfortable and stylish back benches that turn into large double beds with ease.
For power, we typically fit the PM3 Power Management System which is a straight forward and easy to use PMS, supplying both 12v and 230v power for your onboard equipment needs.
With that, we can then install a 48 litre fridge with 5 litre freezer compartment so you can pack up food, drinks and medicines safe in the knowledge they will be kept cool throughout your travels.
More options you might want to look at are heating systems, interior lighting, sink and cookers which we fit in many conversions to provide a real home from home.
We also suggest considering getting a van with or having a pop up roof installed. These are great, allowing more head room when you’re in the back of your van but they also add another bed, perfect for family holidays and some enjoyable ventilation if the weather is right!
Customisation doesn’t stop on the inside of campervan conversions. There are a few additions that can make driving and camping in your VW campervan more comfortable.
We offer side awning installations which sit above your side door and offer a large covered area outside your camper. Whilst space is great in the Transporter, on a nice day, when you’re eating or relaxing at night, having some outside space is always great.
Parking sensors are something that doesn’t come on every van, so if this is the case, given the size of the vehicle and the limited rear view, it’s something to look for. We also fit rear parking cameras which offer a full view behind the van when manoeuvring.
Depending on your intended use, a tow bar can be an incredibly useful addition. You can fit a bike rack so you have some transport when you park up, or a trailer, to maximise what you travel with and of course, with the power in the Transporters 2.0 TDi, many owners use a Camper with a caravan.
Give us a call.
In this post we’ve tried to make some of the choices when looking for a Volkswagen Transporter Campervan straightforward and easier to make but there is a lot to consider.
As experts in Transporter Campervan Conversions we are full of knowledge and eager to help and offer advice.
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