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Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

This vehicle joins a Transporter model line-up that already caters to all manner of purposes. If you want Sportline trim, you’re restricted to either a standard panel van body or a Kombi crew van (which has a removable second row of seats and can therefore accommodate up to six occupants).

There is only one engine option, which is the same 201bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel that serves in other top-end Transporter models, so there’s no direct power boost to report here.

Both headlights and tail-lights have strong LED-illuminated ‘daytime- running’ visual design signatures – the arrow-shaped motif of the latter being the visually more appealing in our book.

You can only have a two-pedal dual-clutch automatic gearbox. And while you get a choice of wheelbase lengths (3.0m or 3.4m), there’s only one default choice of roof height and carrying capacity (all Transporter Sportlines are based on Volkswagen’s T32 chassis specification, with maximum payload ratings ranging from just under to just over one tonne). Elsewhere in the wider line-up, of course, configurability is the Transporter’s middle name. The entry-level Startline short-wheelbase panel van can be bought for less than £30,000 including VAT; it comes with a 109bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and front-wheel drive; and it will haul 800kg of cargo or swallow a couple of Euro 3 pallets in its hindquarters.

The engines progress up to the 201bhp 2.0-litre oil-burner of our test car, and all come from VW’s EA288 four-pot diesel family, with a fully electric option now available in the shape of the ABT e-Transporter. Those engines mount transversely in the front of the vehicle, with drive going to the front wheels in all but the Haldex-style 4Motion versions.

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There is a Transporter Shuttle model for those who need more than six seats in a strictly commercial version of the vehicle, and also the plusher Volkswagen Caravelle upmarket people mover and the California camper, of course. Pretty much whatever useful purpose you imagine putting a big monocab vehicle to, then, the Transporter ought to be able to meet it in one of its many guises.

The Transporter switched to modern monocoque chassis construction in its fourth generation. The latest version has electromechanical power steering not least so that it can offer up-to-date driver assistance systems, as well as all-independent suspension via struts at the front axle and semi-trailing arms at the rear, and coil springs.

As such, this is a prime candidate among vans of its size for a light performance makeover – even if VW has employed the lightest of touches in that respect. A set of 18in alloy wheels – bigger in diameter and wider of rim, and fitted with wider, lower-profile tyres, than any other Transporter uses – come as standard. They roll underneath Eibach sports springs that lower the vehicle 30mm closer to the road than other Transporters are carried.

There is no brake upgrade for the vehicle and you can’t get VW’s adaptive dampers (which are optional on other derivatives), the Sportline sticking with the Transporter’s standard-fit load- sensitive passive shock absorbers.

Our test car came in range-topping Black Edition trim, which accounts for its tinted glazing at the side and rear, and its black styling elements (wheels, sill bars and body decals).