Transporter TSI loading up main pic
Doing what Transporter does best: loading up on the inside while looking smart on the outside
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IF you want a panel van that lifts you above the mundane, gives you the edge for your trade, reflects the values of your business, then often there is only one choice: a Volkswagen Transporter.

Smart, dependable, neat. Yes all of those, as well as the Business Van of the Year in 2017.

After the Ford Transit and Custom, the Transporter is the van of trades and fleets, sitting third in the current van sales charts (November 2018).

But while diesel dominates, what about a petrol version of the Transporter? What? Are we mad?

There’s good reason: London is adding it Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the capital from April 2019. Unless your van is a Euro 4 petrol model or a Euro 6 diesel model, then you’ll be paying £12.50 to enter the ULEZ. Each day, every day.

And in 2021, the London ULEZ will expand to cover a wider area bounded by the north and south circular roads. So whether you are a plumber, electrician, builder, plasterer or garden service company, the new ULEZ will affect you if you travel in this area.

It’s not just London. Other cities (Birmingham, Southampton and so on) are also introducing Clean Air Zones that will operate either by charging non compliant vehicles – or banning certain types of vehicle from entering (eg Oxford).

Now, clearly if you are a high mileage fleet driver or delivery driver, then diesel is your only choice; but if your mileage is more limited, more urban based, then petrol could be a good idea – the petrol Transporters are cheaper than their diesel equivalents, and says Volkswagen, you would need to travel over 18,000 miles to make back the up-front cost of the diesel in fuel savings. Possibly more now that the price differential between petrol and diesel is growing: 8.4p according to the latest AA fuel price watch (November 2018).

And if some cities are going to exclude diesels, for example, then petrol or electric vans will be the only answer.

So what’s it like? We tried the Highline T30 SWB in Euro 6 2.0 TSI guise with the 150PS output. And took it down to Southampton – where a Clean Air Zone is proposed for the total city boundary.

Why would you want to drive a Volkswagen Transporter TSI?


  • It’s a great looking van – and that doesn’t change with a petrol engine powering it
  • The interior is well built, sturdy, and strong
  • The engine is gutsy – there’s 280Nm torque from 1500 rpm and it will pull from high gears (OK there’s a bit of technical grumbling going on), so it’s highly flexible in all driving conditions
  • Six speed gearbox gives quiet and relaxing drive on motorways
  • Official fuel consumption is 31mpg – our average was 28.2mpg so pretty close. In part that’s thanks to VW’s BlueMotion Technology (the BMT in the van’s full name) which provides low rolling resistance tyres, some regenerative braking and start/stop fuel saving
  • For Euro 6 emissions, the Transporter TSI doesn’t require the unpleasant task of filling up with AdBlue required by the TDI model

    Transporter coffee cup holder
    Regulation coffee cup holder
  • Discover Media satnav systems is a bit pricey at £1080 but useful addition and proved its worth – it took us around several hold ups on the way down to Southampton on the M3. Full marks to it
  • Further optional kit worth getting is the rubber floor covering with loading edge protection – it’s grippy and soft-sponged so there’s an element of dampening if you drop something or have breakables to carry (£180). Sidelining in hardboard panels to the roof cost £222
  • For the flat moving we required the van to deliver, it got a large double mattress in along with plenty of breakables with room to spare. Payload is 1054kg, the same as the diesel
  • Highline spec is brilliant from the 16 inch Clayton alloy wheels to the central locking and parking sensors
  • There’s also a good level of safety kit including Automatic Post-Collision Braking System (applies the brakes after a shunt to prevent secondary collisions)
Transporter TSI review loaded
Transporter TSI: easily takes large double mattress as part of the flat moving…and below the load bay with rubber lining and hardboard side panels – which adds to the feeling of quality that the Transporter exudes

Transporter TSI load bay with sideliningWhat might put you off a Volkswagen Transporter TSI?

  • Unladen the steering lightens up to fairly feel-less – not a problem once you have a load and it sits more comfortably on the road
  • You’ll get better fuel consumption with the diesel – but you knew this anyway
  • The light colour trim on the front seats looks good but also looks prone to staining easily
  • Lack of storage room in the cabin – it feels a lifetime away from the new Crafter interior

Verdict on the Volkswagen Transporter TSI

You wouldn’t expect the Transporter to be anything less than brilliant. And of course it is. There’s also a great pride in ownership – the van really ticks all the right boxes for professional trades.

Transporter TSI cabin area
Cabin area – lack of room meant sandwiches got stuffed into this shelf

Is the petrol right for you? If you don’t drive that far then there certainly is a case for it. No messy AdBlue to meet Euro 6 emissions, and the potential to sidestep any ULEZ schemes that decide to forbid or penalise diesels from entering.

There’s no lack of ability, no change in volume capacity, just a quieter, smoother and more flexible engine doing the grunt work for you. And unleaded is cheaper.

Think about your requirements and don’t put your ‘must be a diesel’ blinkers on – the Transporter TSI can really deliver for you.

What Volkswagen says the Transporter TSI offers van operators

Sarah Cox VWCV
Sarah Cox – Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is reminding van buyers and fleet operators that they have more than one choice when it comes to choosing the fuel type for their new vehicles. The advice comes as the brand is expanding its petrol engine range to the new Transporter range – delivering significant up-front savings and potentially a more cost-effective solution for buyers operating in some locations or with particular driving profiles.

In line with its Working With You mantra which promises to design the right van and bespoke aftersales package for every customer, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is ready to offer support and advice to buyers and operators, guiding them through the key considerations they need to take into account when deciding which fuel type to buy. These will include purchase price, fuel economy, load carrying and towing requirements, residual values, VED and other local taxes or congestion charges, among other items.

Take, for example, the Transporter Highline T28 panel van with a 2.0 TSI 150 PS engine which is £1,000 cheaper to buy outright than its diesel-powered equivalent. Using official fuel economy figures and average RAC Fuel Watch prices*, it would take just over 18,000 miles to make back the up-front cost of the diesel in fuel savings. Additional factors, such as insurance (which is often cheaper for petrol models) could extend that distance still further. This makes the petrol-powered Transporter the perfect option for drivers and operators who cover low annual mileages and enjoy the agile performance offered by petrol engines.

Head of Marketing, Sarah Cox, said about the Transporter TSI:

“The van market is currently dominated by diesel, but we know that customers are aware of changes to legislation and looking at other available options. They’re scanning the market for guidance on what will be right for their fleets not just today or tomorrow, but in three or five years’ time.

“Expanding our petrol range and offering a new alternative in the multi-award-winning Transporter range offers customers choice, while our Van Centres are also available to offer advice on the right choice for every fleet and operator.”

Volkswagen Transporter TSI review doors open
Side door gives further access to load bay; rear doors open out to ninety degrees

Volkswagen Transporter Highline T30 SWB EU6 2.0 TSI BMT 150PS 6sp man


On the road price ex-VAT£25,900
Load length 2570 mm
Load width (max)1692mm
Load height 1410mm
Load capacity3.5cu m
Towing capacity braked/unbraked750/2500kg
Engine2.0-litre 4-cyl 16v turbo petrol
Power/Torque 150PS/280Nm
Economy (combined)31.0mpg
CO2 emissions208g/km



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