Purpose. I’ve uttered this before but it’s one of my fascinations with modern automobiles – do they fulfil the role they were made for? When the words “Volkswagen” and “Caravelle” popped up on my calendar I knew exactly what to do… organise an epic family road trip into the middle of nowhere.
The idea came to me a few weeks ago while passing Matjesfontein, a lonely little hamlet I’ve always wanted to explore. At this point I should admit that I had little more to do with the organisation than bringing the car – once informed, my travel-mad wife and mum-in-law jumped at the chance to book all accommodation.
They also filled the Caravelle’s seats with four generations of family – from the excited toddler Max to an equally thrilled great-granny Linda. Last but not least, our route from Winelands to Karoo was mapped over the back roads via Wellington, Ceres and plenty of dirt. We only touched the N1 upon arrival.
To finally describe our mode of transport for this weekend getaway, we all piled into a beautiful deep blue metallic 2016 Volkswagen Caravelle Highline 2.0 BiTDI 132kW DSG 4Motion. I’m not joking, that’s its official title. Try saying that five times after you’ve had one too many gee and tee’s at the Laird’s Arms…
In plain English that means you’re reading about the latest VW Kombi (T6, 6th generation) in luxury Highline spec with the most powerful turbo-Diesel engine (180 hp or 400 Nm), a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive with rear diff lock. This came in quite handy on slightly soggy bits of the hinterland.
Having successfully changed the Caravelle’s colour, our driver was full of praise for the T6’s ride, space, comfort, torque, technology, smoothness and quality. Said pilot is a veteran Kombi owner and one critique fell on this MPV’s price of about R900 000 – he would purchase a cheaper and simpler model.
Another concern was the absence of a rear-view camera as objects under 1 m high (children, pets, bollards, and so on.) are basically invisible. However, big mirrors and a small turning radius take the fear out of city parking where, thanks to beepers all around, I had no problem slotting into a Bree Street bay.
Those who can afford this luxury rectangle – I suspect VIP and hotel transport – will be spoilt by superb craftsmanship, cool LED lighting, satellite navigation, swiveling middle chairs with collapsible table on rails, plenty of armrests and airbags, power side doors, blind spot monitor, fine leather and fluffy carpets.
Back to our journey and with the scenery whizzing by, most occupants were happy chappies; rumours even speak of snoring from the back. Some road trippers noticed a slight hardness from the optional 18-inch wheels fitted here so it is probably wise to stick with the standard 17 inchers if you dislike tarmac travel.
For the record, Matjesfontein with its old-world charm and colourful characters did not disappoint. Nor was our filthy Caravelle alone outside the Lord Milner; among the 4x4s and some noisy motorcycles was an older Kombi tourist shuttle – a fine testament to the travel-worthiness of these Volkswagens.
For your peace of mind, Volkswagen includes a three-year/120 000-km warranty and five-year/60 000-km service plan with each Caravelle. Claimed average Diesel use is 8.8 F/100 km from the 80-F tank and our trip average confirmed this. I even did a 0-100 km/h test … it managed a best time of 11,94 seconds.
That’s all good and well, but has very little to do with the car’s core purpose X its ability to swallow an entire family and head into the countryside. Like its predecessors, this new model got plenty of thumbs up and its interior was drenched with chatting, photos, laughs, padkos and smiling faces. Perfect Kombi memories.
- Galimoto Media
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