The Volkswagen Transporter has had a long and worthy career. Developed alongside the Beetle to be a cheap and economical light commercial vehicle, we are currently looking at the most modern version of the van, the latest member of the Transporter family, the T5. Clearly not in any way a vehicle which we normally would test, but after it received a renowned tuning treatment by MTM there was a slight urgency to try out this ultimate company van for automotive editorial teams.
More than ten million Volkswagen Transporters have been produced since the model was first introduced in 1950 and more than a million T5 models have been made since it was launched in 2003, making it one of the best-selling and most popular vans in the world. In 2010 Volkswagen slightly revised the model and updated its options and refinements. The Transporter T is still the multi-use, multi-functional van that will haul just about anything, and it comes in a variety of configurations to suit many different commercial needs and business requirements.
Being a specialist on cars from the VAG Group, MTM’s ideas and access to the car were a logical step forward. It is definitely not the first time that tuners take a T5 into their workshop for a proper boost in power keeping the looks as it is and hide its potential under the squared off bodywork. Not like other tuners, MTM kept the essence of the van being a transporting vehicle offering the same levels of refinement as Volkswagen intended. They only added some technical refinements underneath its unmistakable looks.
The heart of the van is a 2.5 liter in-line five-cylinder FSI, which transferred from the current Audi RS3 and TT-RS into the T5’s front engine bay. The engine produces a whopping 472hp at 6,900rpm. At 4,100rpm, the unit racks up a maximum torque of 625Nm. The sprint times nor the top speed have officially been confirmed, but after calculations MTM determined a top speed of 280km/h should be easily possible. As a comparison, even the briskest standard T5 with serial power will reach up to about 200km/h.
The engine is linked to Volkswagen’s twin-clutch DSG transmission, which converts the power from the engine to the 4Motion all-wheel drive system with Haldex coupling. The 4Motion system drives all the four wheels through a multi plate coupling which directs power to any wheel that may slip on a loose or slippery surface. It may also direct 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels if need be.
The power production is astonishing for a van. The constant push forward is accompanied by the distinct exhaust noise of the five-cylinder engine. In some ways it is awkward at first, but feels confident and sublime after the first kilometers. The DSG pulls you through the gears with astonishing amount of ease and before you know it, you are touching the 200km/h marker on roads legally allowing 80. Manual shifting is available via the shift lever, if requested. Just putting it into S-mode is enough to enjoy the full potential of the MTM T 500. Under the standard automatic drive mode, it is just a touch on the lazy side.
For those well acquainted with the capabilities of the T5, the differences are easily noticeable over the standard van. Next to the acceleration, the suspension and stopping power have been enhanced. The steering rack remains the same being light and direct. The power increase asks for larger disc brakes, firmly gripped by two six-piston fixed calipers at the front axle. The van rides on 9×20 inch MTM Bimoto rims fitted with 275/35 ZR 20 Michelin SuperSport. A KW Street Comfort coilover suspension keeps the high speed transport on the road, and provides less body movement and roll than the stock setup.
In essence, it still drives like a van, but one that has been heavily modified. The overall package feels mature enough for high speed and long trips at Autobahn cruising speeds, it is steady and firmly planted to the road. The suspension is harder, but never firm or unpleasant. It is more enjoyable to drive than a stock T5, providing levels of enhancement we known and associate with MTM. It has just been made a lot better technically!
On the inside, the customers can choose from a long options list, but all are Volkswagen-based. MTM did not change anything to the interior and focused merely on the technical aspects of the T5. The interior of the Volkswagen Transporter is designed for business with fantastic ergonomics and comfortable seating. This is an area where the Transporter shines. Our test car featured a full working space for the GTspirit team with tinted windows, air conditioning, turning bucket heated seats, working tables, electric windows, cruise control, a satellite navigation system, and tons of storage spaces for our gear.
If you need to transport anything nearly anywhere, and you need a vehicle that must do the job well, the VW Transporter has to be on your list of vans. If you want to move anything nearly anywhere with the potential of a sports car and the sound track of Audi RS-model then ask MTM to build you a MTM T 500 4motion, the most ridiculous and fun van we have ever driven. This T 500 is a great engineering achievement by a company that constantly pushes the boundary without destroying the essence of a vehicle.
The T 500 is faster and handles better than a stock T5, it offers tons of space and features a robust design and fantastic build quality. Forget its 160,000 euro price tag and look through the German flag-themed livery, and this combination of facts makes the T 500 the only option from your list if you are petrolhead searching for speed and loads of space while being moved around in confident and luxurious way. Just for the record, it would be one hell of a GTspirit transport! MTM can we place an order?