Thursday, 29 November 2018 11:59

Volkswagen Transporter Runner an impressive ride

Written by  Mark Daniel
The VW Transporter Runner is a well equipped ride. The VW Transporter Runner is a well equipped ride.

Kiwis remain fixated on utes of every shape, size and price, but we wonder whether in the rural sector the clever folk may be looking to diversify into a good van.

While ‘white van men’ get lots of negative press, particularly in the cities, their humble steeds are available in a wide choice of styles – from humble grafters to the proverbial pocket rockets.

Standing with a foot in both those camps is the VW Transporter Runner, which Rural News recently drove for a week in Waikato. It compared well with its ute cousins, carrying all sorts of stuff with a lot more practicality. 

Measuring 5006mm long, 2297mm wide and 1625mm high, the VW Runner certainly has a presence. Clamber up onto the seat – a little bit awkward as the recessed step doesn’t quite have enough space for a size 11 boot – then things start to fall into place. 

A typically firm Germanic seat with an upright position makes for a surprisingly comfortable ride. However, the gearshift lever to the right of the centre console is a bit of a left knee rubber and shouts that this van started life as a ‘left-hooker’.

For 2019, the Transporter gets the option of automatic transmission to meet increasing demand. 

While the Runner is deemed ‘entry-spec’, it is very well equipped. At the front, a 103kw/250Nm four-cyl, 2.0L turbo diesel is very sprightly away from a standing start. Drive to the front wheels is by the VAG Group seven-speed, dual clutch transmission that is quiet, smooth and linear through the speed ranges, and easy to live with. 

The short wheelbase format sees sliding, unglazed doors on each flank, with a glazed one-piece tailgate at the rear. 

Our demonstrator was configured with individual driver and passenger seats, allowing an easy walk through into the cavernous load compartment. This stripped-out area would be useful for delivery drivers or tradies. And it would lend itself to rural types heading off to sell their wares at a farmers’ market and should prove easy to configure to personal taste. 

At the rear, the back end is ready -- prepared for a trailer hitch. Standard features include air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, wide electrically adjusted and heated rear view mirrors (let’s pretend we’re real truckers), front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, electric windows and locking, and daytime running lights.

On the safety front, add airbags for both occupants, a stability programme to keep things on the straight and narrow. Then – of course – hill-hold, traction control and ABS and things are well covered.
Out on the road, things are a tad noisy when empty, no doubt caused by resonance from all that metal and open space. Fit it out to the required spec and that should disappear for a quiet ride, making this white knight a real winner.

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