Over the years, the VW Kombi has evolved to what we have today: a comfortable people-mover that is modern and luxurious with all the bells and whistles you could hope for. It's rejuvenated for sure.
So what’s new?
The Caravelle T6.1 steers electro-mechanically, it is the first time this capability is used in the T6.1. This has two major benefits: unlike the hydraulic system it replaces, the new steering system can be controlled as needed and this reduces fuel consumption.
At the same time, through its controllability, it opens up access to numerous new driver assistance systems. The electro-mechanical power steering system transmits steering commands to the wheels more directly than the systems in previous models, this makes the T6.1 noticeably more agile and precise.
The driver can now set the desired level of damping almost seamlessly using a slider control. On the conventional chassis versions, the damping forces are set dependent on the spring travel and thus ensure that the T6.1 is smoothly kept stable in all load situations.
As a result of the combination of electro-mechanical power steering, vehicle dynamics control systems and the adapted chassis adjustment, an appreciable enhancement in handling and driving fun is a feature of the T6.1 whilst also offering the familiar high level of ride comfort that is needed for long journeys.
Very noticeable on the new Caravelle is the new instrument panel that not only meets the requirements of digitalisation, but also the aim of providing high levels of usability. Also, new is a larger tray for a smartphone with an inductive interface for charging.
The steering wheel has also been redesigned; on the new multifunction steering wheel there is now a ‘View’ button, which enables the driver to switch between the digital cockpit's different display configurations with just one click. It really is fully digitalised and sets new standards. The 10.25-inch digital cockpit in the T6.1 sets new standards.
It is fitted as standard in the Caravelle Highline and California. The graphics of the high-contrast display have a clear, high-quality look. The driver can choose between different screen configurations which is done via the ‘View’ button on the multifunction steering wheel.
The exterior has been refined and perhaps re-defined, especially at the front where the Caravelle T6.1 looks leaner. The radiator grille is larger and very striking, and forms into a single styling unit as one with the newly designed bumper.
The LED daytime running lights are accentuated by the lines of the two cross-bars, extending all the way into the housing units of the headlights. Six newly designed wheels, six new exterior colours and seven newly combined two-tone paintwork finishes round off the new exterior updates to the range.
Driver assistance systems for safety
Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Automatic Post-Collision Braking (also standard), Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Assist (for 4Motion all-wheel drive), the Tyre Pressure Loss Indicator, Lane Assist, the standard cruise control system inclusive of speed limiter and parking assistant, and Park Assist are all there.
Optional safety systems include Trailer Assist and the advanced main-beam control system Light Assist. The myriad of driver assistance systems makes the T6.1 one of the safest and easiest driving commercial vehicles on the market.
The T6.1 range will launch with three 2.0-litre turbo diesel (TDI) engines with common rail injection that are both economical and sustainable. The four-cylinder engines, muted to a 7 speed Direct Shift Gearbox, delivers between 81kW and 146kW of power. Fuel consumption was around 8.3l/100km which is considered economical for this seven-seater people transporter.
The drive on tarred roads was all smooth and very comfortable. On dirt roads, the ride was bumpy due to the very rough terrain. Being in the cockpit and being in total control of all the enhanced driving systems was exceptional. Everything I needed to make the driving experience pleasurable was all there at a touch of a button. It’s an ideal people mover for larger families with a taste for the outdoors.
Plenty of seating space and legroom that makes the journey that much more pleasing.In South Africa the T-Series, especially the legendary Kombi and Caravelle, have been the best-sellers for the past six decades. In South Africa, 10,097 units of the T6 range have been sold since its launch in 2015. The T6.1 will now continue the heritage and sales success story of the T-Series model range in South Africa.
Recommended retail price as of 1 September 2020, VAT and emissions tax included
Naresh Maharaj is a petrol head who loves cars and writing about them. He is also a Member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. Naresh is also an international sports correspondent and an acclaimed corporate MC and voice-over artist. Naresh is a sports/news producer for community radio stations and also an award-winning sports journalist. Contact Naresh on moc.liamg@123jarahamn.
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