‘Tis the season: A Motormouth festive tale.

‘Tis the season: A Motormouth festive tale.
New Volkswagen panel vans for 2016

MotorMouth-T6-front-ed159-dec15So, Sweet Cheeks, have you been good this year? No, I mean pure and chaste behaviour of the kind you would be happy to discuss with your mother. Hmm. Let me consult my app… Wow! You did all that? Sorry, no festive season goodies for you this year!
Hi, I’m Merida Tannenbaum, better known as Merri Christmas. I’m the duly wedded other half, since last Yule, of Nikolas-Claus Junior, heir to and now CEO of Giftopia Christmas Worldwide, or GCW. I’m the COO of this little enterprise by the way.
A little confused? Last year’s Christmas tale, that explains everything, is here: http://meanderchronicle.co.za/favourite-getaway-car-2014-mercedes-benz-500-sl-roadster-long-journeys-lazy-days/

Luckily for us, this is shaping up to be a reasonably calm festive season because Hanukkah is early this year – between 6th and 14th December. That gives us ten clear days to get everything in place for the Christmas deliveries.
Speaking of which: Do you remember my telling you last year about our new, self-propelled titanium sled being replenished in-flight by drone ‘copters? Well, we’ve had issues with the aviation authorities since then, so our drones have been grounded until we get permission to operate “unmanned commercial cargo flights.” I mean, really? Further, certain “freedom fighters” aren’t particularly fussed about who or what they aim their rockets at, either.
Upshot is, the sled has to touch down at recognised airfields so we can replenish from wheeled vehicles. Holly barbs! That means more staff, more elapsed time and more expense – but what can one do? The answer, as we see it, is to use light and manoeuvrable commercial vehicles that can get in and out, quickly and economically, without attracting the kind of unwanted attention that big trucks do.
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Because they’re easy to load and unload and we know they’re reliable – they’ve been around forever – we chose long-wheelbase Volkswagen panel vans from the new T6 range. Yes… in the back? How do we get loads of prezzies, for thousands of kids, into 6.7 cubic metres of cargo space? Ever heard of zip files? Kinda like that: We compress ‘em using a magical process known only to yours truly and a couple of senior elves – pack in stacks more stuff that way. The gifts re-expand on exposure to natural air in the giftee’s homes – basic, really.
Volkswagen’s T6 range of vehicles consists, as usual, of the Transporter range of pickups, panel vans and crew busses, and private buyer-oriented Kombi and Caravelle models.
Engines are all 2.0-litre diesels; 75- and 103 kilowatt TDIs and the 132 kW BiTDI. Transporter Pick Ups and Panel Vans are offered with 75kW and 103kW engines while Transporter Crew Bus offers all three. Kombi comes with power options of 75- and 103kW, while luxury Caravelle is offered exclusively with the 132kW motor.
The 75kW engine is paired with a five-speed manual gearbox while the 103kW motor comes with either 6-speed manual, or 7-speed DSG, transmissions. Caravelle uses the 7-speed DSG. Customers requiring four-wheel drive can opt for Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system.
Getting back specifically to panel vans, one has three choices: basic ‘vans in either short- or long wheelbase and a s.w.b. Sport version with the 103 kW power plant, DSG and more luxurious equipment.
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Base models offer electronic stability control, ABS brakes, multi-collision braking, anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock and hill holder. They have a single airbag although a second may be added at R2 900. Standard wheels are in steel but, as always, alloys are optional and the spare is full-size. Their radios are fairly basic two-speaker units that feature Bluetooth cellphone connectivity and USB, auxiliary and SD card playback. Central locking and an alarm system are included.
Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning is an optional extra costing R11 200. Upholstery is in hard-wearing cloth but alternative coverings are available. Windows and mirrors are all electric, while screen- and window glass is heat-absorbing.
Independent suspension with McPherson struts in front and semi-trailing-arm axle at the rear, with separate springs and shock absorbers, help the T6 to handle like a passenger car. Unlike most McPherson setups, the transverse links and anti-roll bar are not connected directly to the vehicle body but are attached to an auxiliary frame, in turn attached to the body with vibration-reducing bearings.

That provides effective vibration decoupling and improves driving comfort, while the anti-roll bars on both axles suppress body lean in corners. Load-sensitive shock absorbers, cued by each spring’s degree of compression, dampen firmly or gently as needed to optimise the ride.
Because we need maximum cargo space, we opted for l.w.b. ‘vans with the 75 kW engine. Then, owing to the tough and varied conditions under which our people work, we added some options. First up was the passenger airbag (obviously), then climate control, parking distance control (for manoeuvring in tight spaces), rough road suspension with special shock absorbers, a second sliding door on the right (for quicker off-loading) and a load partition to protect the crew. That’s coupled with eight lashing rings to secure the cargo.
These items added R29 350 to each unit, but we reckon it’s worthwhile for the extra efficiency – because good children deserve to get their gifts on time, don’t they?

The Numbers
Base prices incl. VAT:
75 kW swb panel van – R362 600
75 kW lwb panel van – R370 600
103 kW swb Sport panel van with DSG – R432 600
Warranty: 2 years / unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 3 years / 60 000 km; at 15 000 km intervals

Interior pic: VWSA
Exterior pics: Internet

Article by Gordon Hall