Volkswagen Transporter T5 Road Test: 2008, Crewvan, Tiptronic, TDI, 128 kw/400nm

The Volkswagen Transporter T5 Crewvan: a large, versatile, van that comes in a big range of specifications.

This is my new van and as I had great difficulty in finding any independent information on the internet I decided to post this report, which may assist other purchasers. I took delivery in January 08 and have kept this report up to date. The van was sold in August 2010, and I will never buy another VW.

. This article is written by Jeff Lacey the owner of the the Transporter for the duration of the report. All opinions expressed are those of Jeff Lacey and have not been influenced by a third party. The report was written when the van was new and updated over the ownership period.

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I make easels and in 2007 wanted a new work vehicle. It had to be a van, powerful, automatic with plenty of creature comforts. Something I could jump into and deliver a load of the easels, to Sydney, or even Brisbane, without my 58 plus-year-old body (in 2007) dying of aches and pains in the process.

It is the first car I have owned that feels bullet proof, well almost. I know I have state of the art safety around me combined with excellent vision, high driving position and surprisingly good handling. The thing that really swings me is it harks back to the real cars of the 60,s with all the modern features. It actually is fun to drive, you are not totally cosseted and insulated in a capsule remote from the world that you have difficulty seeing out of. You hear the engine, you feel the suspension, and you can see out of it.!!! No tiny side windows, no small windscreen. Power, that flows when you press the accelerator. The motor really growls and hauls, in a dieselly sort of way. This van really has character, something lacking in most modern cars, but is it far from perfect. In fact it has some bad flaws, substandard high beam headlights, slippery floor coverings, excessive noise, inaccurate trip computer, poor shock absorbers and a less than perfect driving position if you are very tall like me. I have rectified most of those things. The longer I owned it the more I grew to dislike this van.

It is easy to drive, and takes up no more road space than a Falcon. It is hugely roomy inside. It is a Short Wheel Base MY08, T5 with a 128 kw 400nm diesel, 6 speed Tiptronic gearbox, crewman option, side and curtain airbags, Dynamic Stability Control which includes ABS and traction control. Deluxe seats, reversing sensors, trip computer fog lights and factory alarm. I chose a metallic silver finish with full windows.

The first thing you notice about the van is how high you are off the road and the great drivers vision. The optional, premium seats are comfortable with height and lumbar adjustment, plus adjustable arm rests. The trip computer is a weird red on dark red and not as easy to see as LCD, however with Sunglasses on, the reverse applies! It is noisier than a petrol motor, on acceleration and idle, but surprisingly quiet when cruising. The gearbox is very sweet, shifts are very fast and smooth, plus it also gives engine braking. You can also manually select and change gears, but to me that is a waste, unless you want to hold a low gear going down hills. You seem to waft along the open road. Road noise is very good, even on coarse chip.

The steering takes a bit more turning of the wheel than I am used to, but parking and U turns are very easy. It does not seem to sway a lot for such a tall vehicle when cornering with fully independent suspension. Familiarity takes some time.

This van does fly, there is no such thing as a hill that will slow it down and it can tear away from traffic lights, if you want to. Passing on the open road is very quick. Volkswagen quote 0 to 100 kph in a little over 12 seconds, with a load of 500 kilograms!!

The engine is not common rail but duse pump, which means that each cylinder has its own high-pressure pump. There is a huge particulate filter in the exhaust to catch and burn off any un burnt fuel, smells and particles that diesels are renowned for. No pollution from this beast.

Late September 2010: I owned the van for 2.5 years and grew to hate it. I never got used to the diesel noise, the strange seating position for a tall person that ended up giving me shoulder problems. The 1990,s electronics, paint that chipped way too easily, an interior that scratched way too easily, a heater that was poor, headlamps that were way below standard. A suspension that cost me $1000 to get right and then the van broke down and took 3 weeks to get back on the road. I sold it, now I have a Falcon 50th Anniversary Turbo Ute and it is like making a generational leap, virtually no engine noise, a gearbox (ZF6 Speed auto) that is undetectable on changes, the luxury of rear wheel drive, a trip computer that is actually accurate, dash displays and controls that are a generational difference from the VW. I always felt that European vehicles were over rated and over priced. The VW proved it to me. VW cars must be a lot better than their vans or are they? I doubt I will ever buy anything form Europe again.

The Seats

Seats are covered in a durable feeling woolen type fabric; I opted for the (expensive) deluxe front seats, which have height adjustment, twin armrests and lumbar support. I found that after about 35 minutes driving in thin summer slacks, the woolen fabric felt coarse through my trousers. I fitted a set of sheepskin covers and the comfort factor rose considerably. You cannot adjust the angle of the base and they seem a little hard. I love the armrests which have angle adjustment built in. I do however find that I would like to pull the telescoping steering wheel a bit closer than it goes, I feel I am long arm driving unless I pull the seat forward then it is knees too close to the dashboard. On long trips the arms get very tired. I would also like to tilt the squab a little, but there is no ability to do so. There is no centre console, you can actually move your left leg around without crushing it against anything, you can walk into the back seat without getting out of the van. You can climb in through the passenger door and easily get into the drivers seat!! I have found this to be a real bonus. Underneath both front seats there is electrical wiring disappearing into the seat, I expect it is for heated seats, which my van does not have, plus the side air bags. After the first trip to Sydney and back I give the seats full marks as my bad back gave no trouble whatsoever. At no time during the trip did I feel in physical discomfort. My opinion of the seats rose considerably after that trip. Nov 09 - The drivers seat is really fabulous, particularly on long trips, my back and bum have never been sore, even after driving for 14 to 15 hours in one day, which I did recently. Jan 2010 I have had shoulder problems which started on one of my Sydney trips it is now July 2010 and they are just starting to get better. I visit a physio every 2 weeks and he has me on exercises. The long arm steering position started it, but I do have certain muscles that need to be built up more to cope. Had the steering wheel been capable of getting closer to the seat I may have avoided the problem.

The front deluxe seats with sheepskin seat covers, I replaced these covers with 100% sheepskin, with airbag cutouts.

Fronts seats before fitting of seat covers

The back seat is huge, tons of legroom and plenty wide enough for 3 adults. The van seats 5 and they will never be cramped. The back seat is molded for bottoms and has the seat belts neatly attached. The rear seat is easily folded flat then folds again up against the front seat leaving about 1.8 metres of space in the rear. It can also be fully removed, but it is a 2-person job to carry it and I would not want to try it without 2 sliding doors. To unlock the entire seat from the body you simply press a catch, and it is free. On long trips I this the best place for a power nap, as long as you are empty and have not had to remove the seat. It is easy to climb through from the front to the back and curl up for a 20-minute refresher. I am not sure I would want to sleep there all night though.

Rear seat is very roomy

Rear seat half folded

Rear seat fully folded - van has since been professionally carpeted.

Removing the rear seat is very easy, as long as you have a 2 rear door van and 2 people. It weighs 30 kilograms at a guess. It would be a lot more difficult to remove with only one rear door.


The tiptronic gearbox is a 6 speed box. The gearbox also selects the gear appropriate for the engine speed, so that as you slow down, the box changes down. On initial acceleration in normal mode the tachometer seems to hold around 2000 to 2500 revs as gears 1, 2 and 3 are quickly used, from then on changes depend on speed. At 60 you are in 4th, at about 70 in 5th at about 80 in 6th. At 110 kph the motor is only doing 2000 rpm, right on the maximum torque. Gear changes are so fast they are not felt, particularly 1-2-3.

You can also put the gearbox into sport mode where the engine revs out to a bit over 3000 revs on normal gear changes. I have found I prefer not to use sport mode as it seems to hang onto each gear for a fraction too long.

When you take off slowly it is not so smooth, as revs build and the turbo kicks in so does the acceleration, it is not totally linear, but smooth then a surge. Flatten the accelerator , a slight delay and then it is brimstone and fire, the front tyres chirp, the traction kicks in and off you race, howling diesel and indecent acceleration for such a van. The best way to avoid the surge is a measured prod which leaves you at the front of the pack at the lights. If you are simply maneuvering, say reversing, the idle of the motor takes you along at a comfortable speed, not much accelerator required. In most cars you can push the accelerator and the acceleration curve is linear, however with the Transporter it takes off in an initial rush ( after a little turbo lag) and once it hits third and fourth you and you need to give it a bit more accelerator to maintain the same rate of acceleration. You get used to this and cease to notice it pretty quickly.

You can select the gears manually, you pull the lever across to you and to change up you push it towards the dashboard. It will not let you select a gear if the engine revolutions are inappropriate, and it will also change gears for the same reason.

The Engine
The engine is a very powerful in that maximum torque of 400 Newton metres is at about 2000 revs. and a relatively flat profile until close to 4000 revs. Hills mean nothing. Put it in cruise and the speed is held regardless. You are always aware it is a diesel. It clatters away merrily, only when you back off the accelerator or at cruising speed, does is quiet down. It is not that unpleasant and you aware that there is more power than you really need for most situations. It has an extensive engine management display in the dashboard and when you lift the bonnet it appears compact and uncomplicated. I was issued dire warnings about not changing oil myself unless I used the recommended, premium diesel synthetic Castrol oil . It really seems to be a sweet, willing and quite potent if a little noisy, engine.

Starting it is like any petrol motor, you are supposed to wait until the glow plug indicator in the instrument panel goes out, but in reality you hop in, turn the key and it fires instantly.

Combine this sharp engine with the crisp gearbox, plus great gearing and you have a package that really works well. It is raw but cohesive, you know you are driving as you can feel it all working in harmony. It grows on you, as it has character.

Front Wheel Drive

The Transporter is Front Wheel Drive. You would not know it under normal circumstances, but if you accelerate going around a corner you can feel it through the steering. That is about the only time. Having traction control and electronic diff lock helps the drive situation enormously and unless you are really silly you should not find problems. You should be able to drive up wet grassy slopes. I must admit I love the traction. After owning a BA Falcon cab chassis, where you could not put the power down on wet roads and steep slopes, it is a delight. The floor is totally flat and there is room for the spare under the rear of the van, both thanks to the front wheel drive.

Noise Levels.

There is no escaping that this is a diesel. The engine clatters into life; rattles away on idle and sound like a demented sewing machine on acceleration. However at about 80kph it all starts to fade away. At 110kph you cannot hear the engine, tyre noise and wind noise are not too intrusive and the van has entered its element. It eats up the kilometres effortlessly, the tachometer sits on 2000 rpm, and you are almost in van paradise.

10 April 08 New carpets fitted. The carpets were tailored to the floor, and cover front and rear wheel arches plus the exposed metal in the rear up to the window line. They were installed over the existing matting. Custom Covers in Mornington Vic - Trev -0488075483 did a really great job for less than $1000. They look wonderful and there was an immediate reduction in noise, both engine and road.

New carpet: note how it is 2 tone. The drivers floor is complicated but Custom Covers did a great job. The rear quarter panel is the original VW chipboard with the new speaker.

26-4-2007 I soundproofed under the dashboard. Firstly I had to remove the plastic lining. VW use a strange six sided screw with fins, but fortunately I had a similar one in my tool kit and discovered there was sound insulation but it is cut out for the clutch, in other places below the gearshift there is also bare metal. Patchy insulation is also in other places under the dash. I attached a bitumen soundproofing to all bare metal. This is 3mm thick and has an adhesive back. Then I stuffed every crevice and under the dash with fibre glass insulation, packed in tightly. Refitting the plastic panels was very difficult as the screws did not sit or hold on the screwdriver end. I also had to use a couple of Phillips #2 screws, which are the most common heads and sit nicely so you can guide them into awkward spots. The van is definitely quieter, particularly in the higher frequency noises the engine makes, not such a sewing machine now. I am very happy. It would not have taken much for VW to get a similar result. It is not as quiet as a Falcon, but I do not think I can do any better as the engine is pretty noisy in itself. I counted 23 small scratches and cuts on my hands, Lots of sharp little things under there. Now the engine is not intrusive at any cruise speeds!!! Hooray!!!!! I do not even need to turn up the wonderful sound system any more to drown out the noise. On my 30,000 kilometres service 7 june 2009, the VW service people ripped the under dash insulation out claiming it was a fire hazard, without my permission. I am not happy about that, as they should have asked first. Fortunately the noise has not jumped so it seems the it was the bare metal that was letting the noise through. .3-5-2008 I pulled out all the panels on the doors and rear quarter and stuffed them with insulation. I did this to allow the air con and heater to work more efficiently as there is nothing between the thin MDF lining and the outside skin of the van. I did not do the roof, as the gap appears to be very thin, say 20 mm and the insulation I was using would have been too difficult to fit. It made another small reduction in road noise. My housemates '06 Forester has more road noise now, than the van.

The Cheap Obsolete Radio - Not Ipod Compatible

The standard radio is all appearance and very ordinary, in fact cheap, nasty and obsolete almost does it justice. It is MP3 but only to play MP3 CD’s? Sound is dull and lifeless, not great. It has 4 speakers, two in the dash and two in the bottom of the front doors. In the owners manual you are told how to balance the sound between the doors and the dash, but for the life of me, I could not. Maybe there was only a couple of door speakers as when I replaced the radio and speakers I was only given the nasty door speakers back. It seemed to have good reception range on radio but I have not a clue as to how it sounded with a CD. The knobs and various buttons worked well and it was simple to use. At night all the knobs buttons and dials light up in red outlines. After a trip to Sydney using an Ipod and a transmitter I immediately ordered an aftermarket, Ipod friendly, head unit and speakers.

6 March 08- New radio or head unit fitted.

A Pioneer DEHP5950IB Head unit and premium Clarion 6 inch 2 way speakers, in doors with separate directional tweeters in dash, plus 4 way premium speakers in the rear. This gave me full ipod control, eliminating the need to carry cd,s on long delivery trips. My ipod has thousands of legal songs on it. The sound in the van was great!!!!

The Pioneer was an excellent unit however it was then replaced in 19 Nov 09 by a Clarion CZ509A. The reason was to have Bluetooth for the mobile phone.The Clarion runs ipods and USB thumb drives. I immediately noticed an improvement in ipod sound quality, perhaps it is because it better matches the Clarion speakers, or perhaps it is a better unit. It is supposed to have state of the art circuitry to interpret and play MP3 with improved sound quality. The Bluetooth is fantastic, it automatically rings in the car as long as the phone is in your pocket, and the radio switched on, you then just talk. Making a call is almost as easy, you just cycle through the numbers in the radio and press dial. I am 100% happy with the radio speaker combination I have. The Clarion has terrible AM reception!!!


It handles pretty well. It corners with little sway. There seems to be constant movement up and down. It follows road indentations rather than ironing them out. It does corner pretty well for such a tall beast. The ride from new was bouncy, particularly when empty.

August 09 I had enough with the bouncy ride,( It to me is a Occupational Safety and Health issue) and ordered a set of Bilstein shock absorbers to be fitted by Pedders Suspension Frankston Branch. They certainly removed the bounce. Now it is firm on the road, the secondary bounce when you go over bumps and dips has gone. This cost me $1050, but why could not VW fit decent shock absorbers in the first place? Pedders said they do a lot of Transporters, and Vito's, that are no better, and Sprinters for that matter. So it seems to be something that the Germans have not come to grips with. I also checked the tire pressures and according to my gauge they were 50 psi all round, pumped up at the last service. I deflated them to 38 psi. I will never carry a load close to 1 tonne, so rock hard tires are not necessary. Now it rides like a car, and does not crash through bumps. I then drove 4000km in 5 days, see box below. I would never have been able to complete that drive in that time with the old shockers.


I ordered a drivers side-sliding door. The standard T5 only has one sliding door on the passenger’s side. I use the right hand side door just about every time I take the van out or collect something. Way easier to toss small things in behind the driver onto the rear seat, rather than go to the rear or the passenger’s side. The two heavy front doors open wide, you have to take care not to hit neighboring cars. It is pretty easy to open past the detents. The rear hatch door opens easily and high. I am 1920mm tall and it is way over my head. Suits me but there is a grab handle for shorter people. The door locks are dead locks!!

Something you cannot do with normal transporters, look through and load through two side doors.

Right Hand Rear Door.

I cannot imagine this van without a drivers side sliding door. Trying to load easels only through the rear and passenger side door, and to pack them so they nest properly, then tie them down, would be a real pain. You can easily reach the drivers side tie down point which I use every time. Volkswagen should make 2 sliding doors standard in a vehicle that costs as much as this one does.

Central Locking and Keys

The van has central locking from the key, but to open any other door than the drivers, you have to press the button twice. The keys are micro chipped and if you lose them you must get a new one from a Volkswagen dealer coded to your van, otherwise you cannot start the car. The keys are the flick knife type, in that the blade folds into the body and the locking buttons are on the body. You get 2 keys and I ordered a third key for $35, but it is just a simple blade type, the sort of thing you can take to the beach and get wet. I keep it in my wallet. If you use it to open the van you need to put it into the ignition within 30 seconds otherwise the optional alarm goes berserk. One press of the button opens only the drivers door, two presses open the other doors. It actually has always annoyed me that they all do not open with one press.


The first thing I noticed was that I was going faster than I thought I was!! It just gets there quickly and un fussed and just wants to keep going. I had to reassess my driving a little and concentrate on the speeds I was doing. Here the cruise control is a godsend and I find I am constantly driving with cruise rather than the accelerator. Without the cruise, I still find at times I am doing more speed than I expected. This van simply does not struggle to reach any speed, it just gets there with out any strain, you do not have to wait for it to happen. I do enjoy driving it as you have incredible vision. You seem to tower over everything else on the road, except semi trailers. 4 wheel drives, no problem, you can see over them! The windscreen and side windows are tall and give panoramic vision. I ordered full windows, as I really do like to see everything when I drive and hate blind spots. The brakes are excellent. It is a comfort to know that you will have to do something incredibly stupid to get handling problems. On wet roads, it is wonderful, no tyre spin, the wipers do a great job as does the demisting system. The exterior mirrors are also heated, and if covered in dew, clear within a kilometre of starting up.

Headlamps Terrible, not good enough for Australia.

A switch on the dashboard controls the headlamps. The transporter's lights are poor on low beam, but very ordinary on high. There is too much spread of the light and not enough penetration. I immediately replaced the globes with Phillips blue lamps, which are supposed to give 80% more light, well it is more like 25% but it is still better. On high beam the lights, have a very wide spread and lack penetration, even with the new globes. I was used to the headlamps on a BA Falcon and the VW high beam quality is not even close to the Ford. Low beam is OK having adequate light and a wide spread.The optional fog lamps are as good as useless as supplementary lights, as they only seem to light the road a few metres in front of the van.

August 09 I went to Autobarn, wanting to try to get some driving lights fitted for an upcoming delivery trip to Queensland and they suggested I change the Phillips blue lamps for Phillips yellow ones,(in a red packet) which have better penetration. They are supposed to go 25% further. They cost about $40 per globe and were marginally brighter.

May 2010 I decided to have another go at improving the headlamps. I fitted a set of HID lamps. 55 watts, supposed to produce 3 times the light. Wow they are bright. You can clearly see the fractured light spread from the reflectors in the VW . I am now reasonably happy although the old bugbear of lack of penetration is obvious but these lamps are so bright it should not be such an issue. Cost $180 on ebay, easy to fit took me an hour. It is much more complicated than changing the globes, as you have Ballasts and a relay, however the new wiring was well designed. The hardest thing was finding a place to fit the ballasts. The only thing that worries me is that they may increase the glare for oncoming motorists, but so far I have not been flashed and I have adjusted them so they hit the road reasonably close to the van.

July 2010 These headlamps are wonderful. I have not been flashed once by other drivers, and when I now drive other cars, the headlamps are like candles. Reflectors and signs are illuminated way better than with ordinary lights. Open road driving at night is vastly improved. One of the best things I have done to the VW.

Cruise Control.

The cruise is on the end of the indicator stalk, on the left of the steering wheel. It has 2 little toggle switches at the end that are easy to operate with a fingertip. Press the bottom of the toggle and the cruise is engaged at the speed you are traveling at, hold it down and there is a smooth decrease in speed until you release it. Pressing the top toggle increases speed smoothly when the cruise is engaged. If cruise is not engaged, pressing it resets to the previous setting.
A switch on top, switches cruise on and it stays that way regardless of the ignition, you do not have to turn cruise on every time you start the engine. You use the same switch to turn it permanently off. To turn it temporarily off you flick the switch on the top of the lever, which is not so easy. Overall it is a very good system, perhaps the best I have used, with the exception of temporarily turning it off, as it is a easier to press the brake pedal.

Cruise control lever is actually very good to use. The gearshift positions are on the wrong side of the gear shift and you cannot read the markings from the drivers seat, the gear positions are repeated on the instrument panel but are hard to read. You do quickly get used to it.

Air conditioner/Heater

There is an awful lot of volume to cool down. It is a pretty basic system of dialing in the coolest setting, pressing the air conditioner button and dialing in one of 4 fan speeds. Using the system on full blast makes you feel there could be bigger vents for the air to exit. It certainly is cold enough. You cannot feel any effect on the diesel motor when it is on. The rear seat passengers also have their own little vents, with the ducting running through the front doors. On idle, the trip computer shows that the air-conditioning uses 0.3 litres per hour of diesel. The vents can be closed individually and adjusted for angle. I have tinted the windows to try to reduce radiant heat. The Air conditioner struggles in really hot conditions, over 40 degrees C.

The heater takes too long to gain full efficiency. The VW throws out some heat after 5 km and about 13km to get hot, when the temperature gauge reaches normal operating temperature in cold weather. On a cold, say 7 degree morning it takes 20 k of driving to start to fell warm in the van. Demisting is fast and powerful. The heater output appears to be directly proportional to the position of the temperature gauge.

Rear View Mirrors

The rear view mirrors are electrically operated from the driver’s door and feature heating for winter, which works really well. On both sides cars appear further away then they really are. The outside of the driver’s side mirror has extra curve to expand the vision range. They are quite large, the passenger one is orientated vertically and the drivers horizontally.

Electric Windows.

The windows are one touch all the way down, or up, except just after the ignition is turned off then you can send them down as little as you require on dewy mornings the windows are wiped clear when you lower them.

Tinted Windows

I had the rear windows tinted very dark, mainly so passers by could not see what I am carrying. When driving, vision is still good. The wind down windows in the front were also tinted , but a lot lighter. There is an added benefit that tint reduces the heat ingress in Summer, but I have also found that the glare from headlamps is greatly reduced through the rear window making night driving more pleasant I am so pleased with the tinted windows that I will always fit them to any future car or van I own.


Reversing Sensors.

This is the first vehicle I have owned with optional reversing sensors, and so far they have been worth their weight in gold. They operate automatically in reverse. In Sydney I was up a narrow lane delivering a big easel and had to turn around by driving into a narrow drive and reversing out. Backing back the sensors started to scream and I stopped. Below the window height a concrete and rock wall jutted out, above rear window height it was about 600 mm further back. I would have backed right into it, as it was totally hidden.
When parking these things are magic and give you great confidence.

Body Protection.
There is great body protection front and rear with substantial plastic bumpers, The front overhang is short and high, so no scraping the front underside on gutters when parking nose to kerb, however there is nothing whatsoever along the sides, and this could be a serious area of minor damage if frequenting car parks with parallel parking. I picked up one small dent from another door despite being super careful where I parked.

Storage Space.

The storage space is a strange mix, seemingly unrelated to the things you can and would use in a van. The doors have great storage; there is a space for large bottles plus two good-sized spaces. Above the driver is a flip down sunglasses holder that does not fit glasses when they are in a case. The dash features several open spaces and there is another above the windscreen in the middle. The cigarette lighter is in a handy little pull out drawer with 2 spring loaded cup hold holders. In the middle of the cup holders is a little drawer for coins (the ash tray). On the top of the dash is a cavity with several partitions where you can leave things in full view of the public. Under the glove box is a netted section; I have found it good for papers. The glove box is not very large. There is no obvious location to store cd’s, except the glove box and you would only put a small number in there.


There is not a better place I could find for my tatty street directory, see how it is curling down.

Sunglasses holder with my sunglasses in their case. The holder is way too small, but the case has only fallen out twice.

Glove box is small. In addition to the owners manual, there is the charger for a satnav, a glasses case with spare glasses, the original headlamp globes in the box the Blue headlamps came in and very little room for anything else. I have ditched the spare lamps, and the ipod now sits in there as it is fully controlled by the new radio via a cable into the glove box.


The interior has slippery rubber or plastic mats throughout. If you put a box on the floor it can almost end up anywhere as it will slide around on the flooring. In the rear there is nowhere to store such things as tie down straps.

The floor covering looks as if it would be anti slip but it is actually quite slippery, Carpet is a lot better.

Filling with Diesel can be a Major Problem

The filler is located behind a hatch on the passengers side. This means there is only one way you can approach bowsers as there is no possibility of pulling the filler nozzle across the top of the cabin. You have to open the door, open the hatch, close the door, unscrew the filler cap and place it in a slot. The opening to the filler is the small, unleaded petrol size, but many diesel nozzles are large diameter and do not fit into it!!!!!! You can avoid the big nozzles once you work out where they are in your area, but on an interstate trip you will invariably find most service stations have one pump with a small nozzle.

The filler opening is too small, the pink arrow points to the restriction that prevents insertion of the large diameter nozzles that are in most service stations. Very Hard to photograph.


Diesel bowsers are dirty places; you get it on your hands and soles of your shoes, as diesel does not evaporate like petrol. I noticed at a truck stop all the truckies were using gloves or rags to hold the nozzles, the only ones not using something on their hands were a grimy, bitumen spattered, road repair crew. I have been carrying a box of throwaway latex gloves.

After 12 months ownership I find this no longer to be an issue, I am used to using gloves and seem to always find the small nozzles now. In service stations I do not know, I park and ask there always seems now to be a small nozzle on the right side for me, somewhere.

Fuel Economy.
The first tank of mixed running around gave me a bit over 10 litres per 100 km that dropped to high 9,s on the second. The third as about the same and then on a run up to Sydney with a 600 kg load it was still high 9’s. On the return I could not exactly verify the figure as I was trying (in the dark and tired at the end of the journey) to fill the tank from a large diameter fast fill nozzle. Diesel was spilling down the side of the van and after 60 litres I gave up. I think I got mid 8,litres per 100 km. The lying trip computer said 7.9 so that would make it closer to 9. Trouble is the fuel gauge said full, but I believe I could have added something like 8 more litres. I expect as the engine is run in, the economy will improve. I neither drive for economy, nor do I thrash it.

I at last had a chance to check the fuel economy, a delivery trip to Portland Vic. I filled at Geelong (had to go to 2 service stations to find a small nozzle) Then filled the day after I got home. 8.5 litres overall consumption. I did us the ferry both ways to get to Geelong. If you do not know the road, it is a disgrace, masquerading as a highway, I did 100 when possible, but there are few places to pass and I followed long crocodiles of cars several times at 90. The towns have limits of 80,70,60,50, 40, take your pick, yes I drove during the 40 limit school times. I had the air conditioner on most of the time. I have often thought it would be great to live somewhere like Port Fairy, but the thought of having to drive that road on a regular basis would totally put me off.

19 August 2008. Van now has 10,000 km and last tankful I got 9.2 litres/100km with normal running around. Under the same conditions my old BA ute got 12.5 l/100 but when you consider diesel is usually 15 to 20 cents a litre dearer at the pump than petrol. I am saving some money on fuel, maybe $400 per year, however the range of 700 to 800 km on a tank is a real bonus.

Feb. 2009 Van now has 22,000 km. The engine is possibly run in now. On the open road on say a trip to Sydney I average 8.5 litres per 100k. Around town it is in the low 9's say 9.2. This is measured by the number of k's traveled and the amount of fuel I put in the tank. Diesel for the last few weeks has actually been cheaper than petrol, HOORAY!!!! A strong headwind can add as much as 1.5 litres per 100 km to consumption. April 2010, fuel consumption has not improved at all, the engine must be finally run in.! So that is it folks.


The steering is excellent. On the open road it goes exactly where you want it to go. No wanders at all. I still feel you are twirling the wheel a little too much when cornering though and the steering wheel itself,is just too far away.

Trip Computer.

I ordered the optional trip computer. It has a red display on a very dark red, almost black background. It always displays outside temperature. It resets itself every significant trip. If you stop for say an hour in the journey it retains the information on that journey, but if you stop overnight, it starts the next day as a new journey. It displays all the normal things such as time elapsed, kilometers, average fuel consumption, kilometers to empty and actual fuel usage at the time. The trip computer,(or parts of it), is not accurate by my estimate. It showed the average fuel consumed was up to about 1.4 litres per 100 km lower than an actual measurement I made by the amount of diesel I could get into the tank relating to the distance traveled between fills. I did that test several times and the trip computer was always much more optimistic. Contrast this with the Trip Computer on my old BA Falcon Ute, which was dead accurate. If Ford can do it, why cannot VW. Dec 08 after 18000kms. The trip computer is erratic in that its error is not consistent and can be anything from 0.1 litres/100k to 1.4/100k lower than actual. The trip computer also tells you when a service is due and when the temperature drops below 5 degrees it warns you, I expect for road ice. It is not accurate for kilometres to empty. I put 75 litres into the tank, which meant I had 5 left, but the trip computer was telling me I could still go 140 kilometres.

Value for money?

This van was $53000 on the road (which is a discount over retail when you add in the options). This was a lot more than I had planned to spend. It took me about 6 months to come to grips with the fact that to get what I wanted in a van I would have to spend that sort of money. I eventually spent another $3000 plus to sort out some things that annoyed me,(radio, carpet/soundproofing shock absorbers). That said there is no other way you can get the safety features, folding rear seat, power levels and an automatic gearbox in a van anywhere else. I still feel it is overpriced and certainly some of the options should be standard like a driver’s side sliding door, trip computer, and dynamic stability control. I do not think it is great value for money. The problem is that if you want, what I wanted in a van, there is no alternative. Actually I could have bought a Multivan for the same money I ended up spending, but then again a Multivan will not carry heavy loads.

If you are happy to wait the 16 weeks for delivery there is a huge range of expensive options you can add to a transporter. Your dealer will love you as I am sure they have fat margins in the options.


The service interval is 15000k’s. There is a big service due at something like 160,000k’s The dealer strongly suggested that the oil be changed at 7,500k’s.

4 -5 -2008 First service . As suggested the oil was changed by the dealer at 7500km. Cost $314.65 The charge for the oil, plug and filter was $181, the rest was for labor and GST??? A pretty expensive oil change, but they say they did check everything out. I waited the hour it took.

Second and third service were done on schedule and were free due to an issue prior to delivery.

22-12 2009 45,000k service. Cost $553.55, had new wiper blades fitted all round. Sold it before any more services.

Any Problems?

The front end was out of alignment from new.

December 2009 warning light on dash, to do with the sensor that controls the Particulate Filter and it did not affect the engine performance. Dealer easily fixed this. Also had to replace the instrument cluster as it developed a crack. New cluster took 3 weeks to arrive from Singapore. Done under warranty.

Gremlins/impending doom One time the interior lamps refused to come on when I opened any door. I was in Sydney at the time. Another time the electric windows would only move if you held the button. They are one touch normally, in that you touch them and they go all the way down. Both problems quickly fixed themselves. In May 2010 I did a delivery trip to Sydney via the Hume and Jarvis Bay. I stayed overnight north of Gosford. Next day I started home and there was a terrible vibration, like no wheel weights, a flat spotted tyre or tread separation. Straight to a tyre service. both front tyres balanced, no difference. At another tyre service I had all 5 wheels dynamically balanced (not one was perfect) and the spare put on the front right, little difference. When I started home I was not game to go over 80. The vibration was severe. Gradually it got better, the further I drove, but was with me all the way home. In the end I drove at the speed limits, this was after maybe 250 to 300k at reduced speeds. It was quite weird, around left hand curves it disappeared, around right hand curves it got worse. I did not enjoy that trip at all! At home I put the spare (formally on the RHS front) on the left front. The vibration seemed to go but it was never there at speeds under 70kph. After a few days of vibration free driving, I did a 50 k freeway drive one night and suddenly it started up, as severe as ever. It did not appear the next two drives to the same location. I drove to the airport with 3 passengers and a third of the distance there it again started up, as bad as ever. Since that trip, 3 weeks prior to writing this, it has gone and due to the full wheel balance the van is smoother than ever at highway speeds. I had it booked into Peninsula VW to see if they could determine the problem, but did not go as it was behaving perfectly.

Thursday 8 July 2010. 57000km covered It finally broke down and left me stranded on the side of the road. The vibration started, I had just crossed over a speed hump, when it started vibrating, more like a wobble. It lasted 200 metres, then there was a bang, and a grinding sound and I had no drive. The engine was running OK. I coasted to a halt. This is only the first time in 1.2 million kilometres of driving that I have had a car break (or crash) and strand me. Maybe I have been lucky. In my early days I could fix things on the side of the road, then as a mature citizen I have had new cars (Fords) and they have been reliable. I rang VW assist and they are sent a tow truck, within 40 minutes. The driver could not have been more helpful. Good service!!

This is what every driver dreads, being winched onto a tilt tray after a breakdown.

Friday 9 July, 2010. The van was towed to Peninsula Volkswagen. Today they were too busy too look at it. At 10 to 4 in the afternoon I was told that a "technician" would be able to look at it on Monday afternoon. Their loaner cars are booked out 3 weeks in advance.

Tuesday 13 July, Rang Peninsula VW, true to their word they looked at the van yesterday, the left hand front drive shaft has broken. A new one is on order and it is about 1.5 hours work to replace, which they will do immediately. Must have been some fault in the drive shaft from the beginning, but I assume they will know more when they take it out. Fortunately my son had a spare BF Falcon cab chassis ute, which I could borrow. Once more he said I should have bought a Transit, as he has had no trouble from the 3 he owns.

Monday 19th July , Did not hear from Peninsula VW all week, rang them to see if they had a update on the parts arriving, they said they would make enquiries and get back to me, which they did. The parts are coming from Singapore and are due, at the latest the 28th July. They are also having a paint expert look at my bonnet to see if bonding of the paint is an issue. The bonnet has a lot of stone chips, where the paint seems to flake off way too easily. I just need to be patient.

Wednesday 27th, I was advised the parts had arrived. The van should be OK on the following afternoon. Thursday 29th at 3pm I rang and was advised it would be ready about noon on the 30th, as they had to replace a sensor in the engine compartment and it would be arriving in the morning. Unfortunately I did not ask which sensor would be affected by a broken drive shaft. Friday 27th, collected the VW. All fixed. They had also found an engine sensor not working correctly so it was also changed.

During this time I have been driving a well used 60.000km BF Falcon Cab Chassis, it reminded me how good Fords actually are. The smooth delivery of power with very little noise, a heater that works quickly, nice direct steering, great head lamps. You can easily find a natural steering wheel position and the pedals are where you expect them. I test drove a 50th anniversary Turbo XR6 ute and loved it so the VW was sold. I ended up getting $36,000 but took $500 off due top the excessive stone chipping on the bonnet. See photos below.


Note how pronounced the stone chips are. This is the passengers side headlamp.

I have never owned a car that has stone chipped so easily and badly.

Have a close look at the 3 chips on the Right see how they look like they are still peeling

These photos do not show all the chips on the bonnet. They were right across the front.


If you look closely at this chip you can see the sharp edge as if the paint has peeled off due to not sticking properly.

This is a good van, having lots of positive attributes. However it is not perfect. I had to change the sound system, fit carpets to reduce noise and cover the slippery floor and replace the shock absorbers. The headlamps lights are ordinary. It is great on the open road, where it is quiet and comfortably devours kilometers, treating all terrain as if it was flat. It has abundant power, but does not consume excessive fuel. There is plenty of room for cargo and passengers are well catered for in an industrial way. It feels bullet proof. No wheel spin on wet or gravel roads, great vision, excellent maneuverability. With the superior height and vision you feel like you are king of the roads. It is a very good place to be when moving goods around.

After 31 months ownership I sold it. Final straw was my shoulder (which has given no trouble since extensive physio and exercises) played up badly after a 4 hour drive. Driving the VW long distances is the only thing to trouble the shoulder and I put it down to the driving position with the wheel too far away, and the upright seating position. I only hope the new Falcon 50th anniversary Turbo Ute I have ordered does not give the same trouble. I lost a lot of money on the VW. It taught me that you try to avoid adding expensive options, and if it is not there when you buy the vehicle, do not bother trying to add it, you cannot turn a sows ear into a silk purse. The Transporter will also be my first and last European vehicle, as I believe they are not suited to Australia. I will never buy a VW again, the way I was treated and the time they took to fix it after the breakdown is a disgrace.

Feels bullet proof, comfortable, tons of room , commanding driving position and excellent all round vision, no centre console, very good at freeway speeds, great vision, powerful, roomy, very safe, traction control/esp, safety is 4 stars, but I believe that is without the ESP and 6 airbags my van has. Great 165mm road clearance with short overhangs. Lots of character, has all I wanted in a van. Wonderful for long distance trips. I mostly enjoy driving it.
Cheap radio (fixed), ordinary high beam, noisy motor, bouncy ride ( fixed with expensive Bilstien shock absorbers), badly designed storage spaces, slippery floor (fixed) and filling with diesel from large diameter nozzles, which is no longer a problem as I have figured out where to find small nozzles, Heater is too slow to get warm. Steering wheel too far away, pedals too close, seat does not go back far enough for a tall person like me at 6 foot 3 inches. Inaccurate, hard to read trip computer. The fact I have spent $3000 plus so far to fix what I consider to be short comings of this van, although most people would not bother. I hate the indicators on the left and wipers on the right, I have never gotten used to them and every other time I drive another car I am wiping windows to indicate, minor I know but it happens and annoys me.

It is a bit of a love hate relationship for me!!!! After every long trip I arrive home thinking what a great van it is, particularly since the new shock absorbers. In the end after a long trip all I did was suffer from a sore left shoulder, which took all the gloss off how well the van ran. I grew to hate it and after it broke down taking 3 weeks to fix I could not get rid of it fast enough. Buy one at your own peril!!!!! I cannot cannot recommend buying a Transporter or anything from VW after my experience.

June 09, I have just returned from a delivery trip to central Sydney and just South of Newcastle. 2400 km covered. The load up was about 300 kilos and the back seat was removed as the fully assembled H Frame easels were bulky. On the first day I traveled about 800 km and it reminded me just how good the van is on long trips, when loaded. The drivers seat is wonderful, it has never caused my (now 60 year old) body a problem despite having arthritis and a bad back. All hills are flat, the van has so much torque that hills do not slow it down but you do have to be careful of slow moving trucks and idiots who will box you in on the outside lane as you approach slow moving vehicles. On the return trip the worst aspects of the van emerged. Empty, it was like riding a bucking bronco over some of the NSW roads and the endless bouncing wears you down and tires you out. . I got 9.1 litres per 100 on the first fill, and 7.9 on the second. No wind and light rain. The headlights are simply not good enough for long distance night time driving. A few weeks after arriving home from this trip I ordered a set of Bilstien shock absorbers. They were on 2 months delivery. I regard this as an O. S and H issue, I have noticed my fatigue levels a lot higher on empty return trips and have put it down to the constant bouncy ride.
Queensland Trip, August 09

In 5 days I drove 4000km up the Newell to Caboolture (North of Brisbane) via Stanthorpe then home via Sydney.

The Van is fantastic for a trip like that. I did it in 4 legs each 1000km leaving on a Monday arriving home Friday night with the Wednesday a rest day.

Before I left I had the Bilstien shock absorbers fitted which transformed the ride and I dropped the tire pressure from a bone crunching 50 psi that the dealer pumped them up to at the last service to 38 psi. At no stage during the trip was I fatigued, the van ran like a top and rode like a car with good, slightly firm suspension. On previous shorter trips to Sydney and back I would be fatigued, no exhausted, particularly on the home trips as the van bounced around and crashed through the bumps. This time on each leg, I was able to arrive feeling tired but OK. What a difference. I also lifted the optional seats to their maximum height, which puts the steering wheel closer and gives a bit more legroom. This also makes it a long way to climb up and get down. My 60-year-old arthritic body with a bad back was never troubled. What a van!!! Load on the trip was 400 kilos (20 - H frame easels) and on the trip home some sundry items weighing about 70 kilos. Fuel was 9.5 litres per 100km on the way up with head winds, then 7.5 per 100 from Brisbane to Sydney and 8.5 from Sydney to Melbourne. This van is now a very good interstate cruiser, I only wish VW had installed decent shock absorbers in the first place which would have saved me $1050, that said my safety and health is worth every bit of the $1050. If I do that trip again, I will get driving lights fitted. For outback night time driving the headlight are nowhere near good enough. I note that the new model has dual headlamps, so VW has seen the problem.

I could not justify the price of alloy wheels but these hubcaps were quite reasonable and I like the way they set the wheels off. I have since noticed on other Transporters fitted with the expensive optional 17inch Alloys, that they stick out past the tyres and often have damage from gutters. I am now glad I did not order them. Another example of where VW could do better. The Hubcaps also suffer from gutter damage, 2 of mine are now scarred.

The Opposition

MB Vito - I test drove a manual Vito about 2006 and could not get out of it fast enough. It was a miserable windy day and I got lost in the manual gears. It was a basic van, very noisy. Before ordering the VW, I went to the local MB dealership to have another look. The salesman told me to go away and he would ring me to arrange a test drive! (I was in my working clothes, looking like I was financially challenged) Naturally he forgot. I went back a week later, before I had ordered the VW. He made all sorts of excuses and at least opened up several doors of the stock they had on display so I could get into them, and said he may be able to put trade plates on one for a short trip, another time! The Vito Crewvan back seat did not fold ( I believe it now folds) and the spare tyre is screwed to the inside rear wall where I would want a window. The motors had less power except the Model 120 which would blow my budget and is long wheel base anyway. They also did not have trip computers, side and curtain airbags and things like electric mirrors and cruise were optional. With the useless salesman and lack of the features I wanted, Vito was crossed off the list. The fact that Vito has a 3 pointed star means nothing to me. I have since spoken to a number of Vito owners and drivers and they are not only unreliable but are expensive to repair.

Not sure about the new VW as I have not driven it but it does seem they have rectified the headlamps.


Road test on 2008 VW Multivan Sport

Road test on a very early T5 in the UK

Next Car Road test

Owners reports from the UK- far from glowing

Road test by Joe Kenwright

Easels Galore Index Falcon 50th Anniversary Turbo Ute MY11Subaru Liberty

My email is if you want to drop a line or ask questions.

Hi Jeff, sorry to impose upon you but I have just read your story on your t5 and decided to contact you out of desperation, I have owned a transporter for 18 months and its driving me nuts,I have two vibrations one under the bonnet which I have used a tube of silastic and a packet of cable ties on and reduced the noise about 50%,but the other noise which is under the dash on the passenger side I,m having no luck with.I have used your idea and packed sound deadening insulation into every available space,but havent cured the problem.I have been to burwin vw but they refuse to admit to a problem,even though there are several forums out there were other owners have the problem.once again I am sorry to impose ,but if you have any ideas I would greatly appreciate your help.
p.s. I have just listed it on carsales,but if your have any ideas I will withdraw it,besides the vibes it a great vehical
Brian Neal