Tested: Volkswagen Caravelle

Family adventure for your next holiday? We tested the perfect car for the trip…

Purpose. I’ve uttered this before but it’s one of my fascinations with modern vehicles – do they fulfil the role they were made for? When “Volkswagen” and “Caravelle” popped up on my calendar I knew exactly what to do… organize 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 organization than bringing the car – once informed, my travel-mad wife and Mum-in-law jumped at the chance of booking everything.

They also filled the VW 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 tarmac upon arrival. To finally describe our mode of transport, we all piled into a beautiful blue metallic 2016 Volkswagen T6 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 luxurious Highline specification with the most powerful turbo-Diesel engine (up to 180hp or 400Nm), a seven-speed dual-clutch auto’ gearbox and all-wheel-drive with rear diff lock.

This came in quite handy on slightly soggy bits of the hinterland.

After successfully changing the Caravelle’s colour, our driver was full of praise for the ride, space, comfort, technology, smoothness and quality.

Said pilot is a veteran VW Kombi owner and his one critique fell on this MPV’s price of about 900,000 dollars – he’d purchase a cheaper and simpler model.

Another concern was the absence of a rear-view camera as objects under one meter (children, pets, bollards, etc.) 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 materials, LED lighting, satellite navigation, many media inputs, swiveling middle (arm-)chairs with collapsible table on rails, plenty of armrests and airbags, power side doors, blind spot monitor, fine leather and rather fluffy carpets.

Back to our journey and with the scenery whizzing by, most occupants were happy chappies. Rumours 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 a good idea to stick with the (standard) 17 inchers if you dislike tarmac travel.

For the record, the little hamlet with its old-world charm, relaxed atmosphere and colourful characters did not disappoint.

Nor was our filthy Caravelle alone outside the big white hotel; among the 4×4’s and some noisy motor-bicycles was an older Kombi tourist shuttle – a fine testament to the travel-worthiness of these Volkswagens.

For your peace of mind, Volkswagen includes a 3-year/120,000km warranty and 5-year/60,000km service plan with each Caravelle.

Claimed average Diesel use is 8.8L/100km from the 80L fuel tank; our overall trip average for the mini-getaway confirmed this.

Once all relatives had been evicted from the big boxy VW, I even did a 0-100km/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 Kombi’s core purpose – 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 happy chatting, photos, laughs, padkos and adventure.

Perfect Kombi memories.


0-10km/h: 0,13 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,83 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,54 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,50 seconds
0-50km/h: 3,50 seconds
0-60km/h: 4,86 seconds
0-70km/h: 6,29 seconds
0-80km/h: 7,76 seconds
0-90km/h: 9,72 seconds
0-100km/h: 11,94 seconds
0-110km/h: 14,46 seconds
0-120km/h: 17,47 seconds
0-130km/h: 21,49 seconds
0-140km/h: 26,24 seconds

0-100m: 7,42 seconds @ 77,76km/h
0-200m: 11,49 seconds @ 97,86km/h
0-300m: 14,91 seconds @ 111,56km/h
0-400m: 18,00 seconds @ 121,58km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,48G

Altitude: 71m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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