Long-term report: Our Volkswagen Transporter is the van that can do almost everything
Zaak Andrews finds our VW to be a versatile machine for the life of a camera crew
For as long as I can remember, the VW van – in whatever shape or form it came in, from the ‘60s & ‘70s split or bay window variants, through to the ever-robust T4 models and the latest incarnation, T6 – has always been the one that has had a glowing attraction from the masses.
Sure, many tradesman would argue that the Ford Transit had propped up our nation for decades but for me, I wouldn’t use one of those for anything other than hauling loads or filling with tools. Our Volkswagen Transporter Kombi ‘Edition’ offers so much more. In fact, there is little I have found it can’t do.
The vehicle of choice in the TV/Film industry is always a VW Transporter for crews, and after spending a fair amount of time with it recently, this is now much more apparent – everything just makes sense. Shooting high-quality video often involves having large quantities of kit and travelling with this not only demands space but also durability, good driving manners & ideally, good fuel economy. We’re pleased to report KY18 PXF has consistently delivered in all of these areas by a country mile.
The seats up front in our van are comfortable, and come with the added bonus of arm rests which make the masses of miles home after a busy shoot that much more bearable – something you definitely want and need after fuelling your near-on-12 hour day with too much coffee & full-fat Coke.
The fact this one is a Kombi, has also meant when needed to, we’ve taken extra crew rather than extra crew and their vehicles, and it’s also managed to transport a five-strong camping outfit without a complaint or the slightest hint of an, ‘are we there yet?’
Let’s talk cargo – not containers on a ship as such, but the cargo area on our van. At 5.8m cubed it’s competitively sized and it’s also lined with a rubber floor. It has more than ample space for what we need. It can fit two main cameras in respective travel cases, a case of lenses, two tripods, two drones, radios, ten GoPro cameras in a large travel case, a plethora of rigging equipment and suction cups, amongst many more pieces of kit.
Tool wise, it’s perfect for the job and for the weekend, it can happily carry all camping necessities to cater for 6 people for 2 nights – tents, sleeping bags, clothes, airbeds a BBQ and some, with a little bit of space to rest a dog bed on top of – should you have one.
Volkswagen’s claimed combined fuel economy figure of 45.6mpg for this van in daily life has been incredibly accurate too as on the longer runs we’ve seen even up to around 52mpg. As I said, having good fuel economy from your crew vehicle is quite high up on the priority list for us and to be able to see high 40’s whilst eating up the M25, the M40 & the M6 (almost fully laden) amongst many more A & B roads in the last few weeks has been super impressive. – well done Volkswagen.
Remember I said about it being so much more than a tool? Well it is, I’m getting there.
It hasn’t been all load-lugging and motorway driving with this van, it’s been a gem to use for tracking out of too – a major element when shooting automotive content. We took it to a shoot at Santa Pod recently and the large tailgate meant I could get nice and low with the camera thanks to the low lip, plant myself on the rubber floor of the cargo area and bolt my harness into the anchor point securely. I’ve tracked out of many vehicles over the last 2 years and everything is in the right place with this van, again, it all just makes a lot of sense.
Now I’ve mentioned how popular all variants of the VW van have been and anyone could recognise that from an average commute as they’re everywhere, but what I couldn’t have told you about is the authentic sense of community you feel and become a part of when you live with one.
Ours is a very smart and sharp looking van. The lines and proportions combined with the Candy White paint and 17-inch black Cascavel alloy wheels are an envious combination within that community. There’s been a lot of nods of appreciation at traffic lights and subtle glances over at service stations and supermarket car parks, fairly synonymous with the underlying Volkswagen brand values. It’s by no means the prettiest and best-looking van out there, but it’s one people recognise and almost lust over in this guise.
There is little to complain about with this van but it does have a couple of flaws that I’ve picked up on. They are minor and potentially superficial, but hey – no-one’s perfect. The Discover media system that’s fitted to our van has Apple CarPlay, DAB, Bluetooth connectivity, the lot, but it is looking a little dated if you’re familiar with the newer systems found in the non-commercial Volkswagen range.
It’s worked without fail for the majority of the time but there have been a good 5 or 6 occasions I’ve had to redial the person on the end of the phone at least twice, as it’s decided to cut off for no apparent reason. This could be my iPhone to blame and not KY18 PXF, but it’s almost too coincidental that it happens when connected via CarPlay.
On top of this niggle, whilst having a reversing camera and excellent parking sensors to make tricky manoeuvres in tight spaces that little bit easier, the sensors are almost too good. They resonate throughout the cabin at an overly high volume and even once you’ve parked up, put the manual handbrake on (so refreshing to have) and selected neutral, they are still persistent on telling you how close the object behind happens to be.
It’s been a super pleasant few weeks running this van, and has made working, commuting and weekend living a blast. I look forward to what the future may bring with it – hopefully a bit more activity-based weekend outings.
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