Not compromised but hardly enhanced by its sporting agenda

The Autocar road test dips only rarely into the world of the commercial vehicle, but when we do, it’s almost always because we have been tempted by the prospect of something extraordinary.

The Volkswagen Transporter Sportline looked as if it might have that kind of potential; to be a corollary of the Ford Ranger Raptor, and do for the workaday van what the Ford helped to do for the pick-up truck a few years ago, kindling interest and making people look anew at a vehicle concept they had always overlooked before.

Spec advice? Think whether a (cheaper) Transporter T32 Highline BiTDI 4Motion might better suit your needs. If not, go for a short-wheelbase Sportline if you’re a regular user of ordinary car parking spaces

The versatile, cavernous, hard-working van certainly deserves a champion, but in the end, this Transporter fails to break away on a path of its own. It may look intriguing, but it fails to offer anything dynamically to really set it apart from any other panel van, or that justifies you paying a premium for.

Performance is lukewarm; handling, roadholding and body control are as a whole only marginally above the van-segment standard; and the desirability-boosting premium features don’t divert your attention for long from what would be a very functional but broadly ordinary van driving and owning experience.

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What Car? New car buyer marketplace - Volkswagen Transporter