Volkswagen’s Transporter range has a variety of options to suit different needs. Earlier this year we discovered what the VW Caravelle had to offer and what we found was positive. It offers practicality and a unique level of interior space customization. More recently we managed to get our hands on the Volkswagen Kombi, a similar vehicle that won’t cost you as much as the Caravelle.

The two variants are essentially the same car just with different kits. Currently, both vehicles are in their facelift stage. You’ll notice a new grille, a redesigned front bumper and a new set of headlamps if you pay close attention. These are just some of the minor tweaks that have been made to the T6.1. One major change which may go unnoticed here is the brand’s new emblem on the vehicle. Yes, Volkswagen did change their logo, and as much as it still carries the same letters (VW) the design is different. 

As has always been the case, inside is where the business is with these types of vehicles. Even though the Kombi may not have some of the bells and whistles found in the VW Caravelle, Volkswagen has done enough to ensure that the Kombi’s interior is still a nice and comfortable space to be in. Front to rear, the VW Kombi offers ample room for its passengers. One thing that always stands out with these large, shuttle-like vehicles is the driver and passenger seats. Both feel like a very comfortable armchair, designed with individual height-adjustable armrests. These seats, along with the spacious cabin make spending hours on the road effortless. We did the return trip from Johannesburg to Durban without the need to stop and “stretch the legs”. With enough fuel in the tank (over 1000km range) and replenishments in the car, we were able to enjoy the vehicle and the road without requiring a break. Inside this cabin, you’ll also find many pockets and compartments for storage, and they proved to be quite useful. You find a pocket or hole for anything from your glasses and a power bank to 1.5-litre bottles. 

Once it gets moving the VW Kombi is a joy to drive. Despite its size, it feels light and easy to pilot which makes sense because it doesn’t have the added weight carried by the Caravelle, like the 4Motion 4WD system, swivelling rear seats with a centre table, or the motorized sliding door. These are all things you can do without if your budget doesn’t allow, and you’ll also be saving on weight. As an option, the T6.1 Kombi can be fitted with an inductive interface for charging, which utilizes two USB C ports. We also had a touch infotainment screen with smartphone integration in our test vehicle, making the VW Kombi feel less like a utility bus and more like a family vehicle. The beauty is it can do both – if you need to shuffle the family around there’s plenty of seating and boot space for luggage. Unlatch the two rows of rear seats and you have yourself a massive unobstructed open space to load up goods. There are metal loops attached to the floor in case you may need to tie things down.

With the reduced weight of the Kombi, the 2.0-litre diesel engine is efficient and works well with the car. We managed an average of 8.0l/100km during our time with the vehicle, covering over 1200km. 

Volkswagen Kombi price

The Transporter range starts R425 700 for the single-cab like Transporter van, these are used for ferrying goods and not people. As for the vehicle tested by us in this review (Transporter Kombi), you’re looking at a starting price of R758 100.