Only twenty New Zealand customers will be lucky enough to take delivery of Volkswagen commercial vehicle’s limited edition t6-series kombi 70 seven-seat people mover priced from $76,490 plus options and on-road costs.
While most global markets have called the vehicle a Kombi for decades, in Germany its colloquial name is ‘Bulli’, hence the Bulli logo appears on the both the door sills and the lower floor lighting surround in the Kombi 70.
According to Volkswagen around 70 years ago when its Dutch importer Ben Pon came to visit the Wolfsburg plant he spotted the factory’s ‘Plattenwagen’ which was essentially an improvised flat deck parts carrier based on a Beetle platform, where the driver’s seat and steering wheel was placed at the rear of the vehicle on top of the air-cooled engine.
Pons realised the Type 1 Beetle platform could be used for another vehicle, he first sketched the what would become VW’s iconic van in 1947, proposing a payload of 690kg and that the driver and passenger sit up at front, thereby creating the world’s first mass production forward control light commercial vehicle.
The initial sketch and proposal from Ben Pons became the launchpad for the T1 series of Volkswagen Transporter, in the late 1940’s when the appetite for the Beetle had been satiated enough for production capacity to be granted to the Kombinationskraftwagen (combination motor vehicle) project.
The first two Transporter models to roll off the production line in November 1949 were the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats which could be removed by one person), and the Commercial.
To commemorate Pon’s idea, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles first unveiled the special edition Kombi 70 at the Geneva International Motor Show in May 2017, claiming that its combines classic retro style charm with today’s modern technology and build quality.
Only Volkswagen could create such a vehicle to celebrate 70 years of an iconic van which has served the defence forces, first responders, tradies, hippies, surfers, and global nomads.
From the highways of California, to the African desert, to the mountains of Europe, and to the sands of Raglan and Murawai, the air-cooled Kombi Van became the vehicle of choice for the wealthy as well as the working class.
It became a symbol of freedom and leisure.
The white over metallic tumeric yellow colour combination is very striking and certainly caught more than a few eyes during our short time with the Kombi 70 but for those buyers wanting something more subtle, there is a white over cherry red or a silver over blue colour scheme as well.
The two-tone colour paint-job and unique bi-colour disc-style alloy wheel design of this retro-inspired version of the T6 Transporter pays homage to the air cooled rear-engined T1 Kombi vans used by hippies, surfers, and global travellers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Inside, the heritage theme continues thanks to the dark wood-look flooring inside the rear cabin, and the half-leather half cloth ‘Visitamo’ upholstery used on the seats.
The Kombi 70 features chrome trim including diverse chrome strips and chrome-look mirror housings. In addition to that, the passenger compartment has tinted windows, the tread plates feature ‘Bulli’ lettering and stainless steel inserts and the loading edge covers of the rear hatch are also stainless steel.
Matt black decals around the B-pillars round off the overall look.
The Kombi 70 is also equipped with a multifunction leather steering wheel, a premium multifunction display and an instrument panel framed in decorative gloss black trim as well as electrically adjustable, heated, fold-in exterior mirrors and it also has the front and rear Park Pilot system with reversing camera fitted.
The driver, front passenger, and two rear passengers all get to enjoy Captains Chair-type seating with integrated arm rests.
In the rear cabin there is a three person bench seat with lap and diagonal belts for all occupants, and this is also removable for carrying bigger items cargo.
But unlike it lightweight predecessors, two people now need to be involved in lifting it up and out because it’s enormously bulky and heavy!
Both the dual sliding rear side doors and the tailgate are electrically operated with a power latching, which means they cannot be slammed shut by naughty kids.
The front wheel drive Kombi 70 is powered by a 132kW 2-litre turbodiesel engine with seven-speed automatic which endows it with more than enough grunt to cart seven people and their luggage away for a weekend.
The seven-speed DSG automatic is quick and smooth, and there’s a sport mode for additional performance when needed, which is hardly ever, because the 400 Newton Metres of torque allows the driver to pull away effortlessly from rest or when overtaking on the open road.
It has a braked towing capacity of 2500kg which is more than enough for a taking a camping trailer, a small caravan or a jet ski on a family outing or vacation.
Volkswagen installs tow bar wiring preparation in the Kombi 70 as standard and this includes combining a trailer roll stability programme within the vehicle’s overall electronic stability programme for greater safety and to reduce the possibly of a jackknife incident.
It’s also a very safe with front and side, and curtain airbags which go all the way to the third row of seats which is quite the rarity in a commercially-based vehicle.
Thanks to its shorter wheelbase, the Kombi 70 feels very-car like to drive and also feels more stable on the road than some other vehicles in this van-based people-mover market segment.
Because of its more compact dimensions, it is an a easily manoeuverable family vehicle, with an 11.9 metres turning circle, and the steering feels comfortable and precise, you know exactly where the front wheels are pointing at all times.
On the motorway the Kombi 70 will quietly lap up great distances at 100km/h while the occupants enjoy its quiet tri zone climate air conditioned comfort, and the unique sliding picnic table with integral cupholders in the rear cabin.
Our vehicle also came equipped with a funkily-designed little rubbish bin which fitted neatly into a rear door pocket.
Sadly, while the original 1949 Kombi was an affordable car for the masses, the limited edition Kombi 70 is targeted towards a more affluent group of lifestyle seekers but there is no doubt that in the future when it becomes a classic in its own right, they will regard it as fondly as the original.
|Model||2017 Volkswagen Kombi 70||Price||$41,990|
|Engine||1968cc, 4-Cylinder, 132kW/400Nm||Drivetrain||7-speed twin-clutch|
|Fuel Use||7.9L/100km||C02 Output||0g/km|
|0-100km/h||0.00 sec||Weight||2055kg kerb weight|
|Service||40,000km intervals, 3 year / 100,000km warranty||Load|
|Vitals||3080kg GVM, kg payload||Vitals||2500kg towing capacity|