Volkswagen T5 Transporter (2003 – 2015) Review

Volkswagen T5 Transporter (2003 – 2015) At A Glance


+Very refined and car-like to drive with an upmarket cabin, durable and well built, smooth common-rail TDI engine, available as a Shuttle which seats up to nine, ESP stability control as standard.

-Steering column is known to knock, window leaks are common. Engine problems with 2.0BITD after 60k miles.

It could easily be argued that Volkswagen invented the whole modern light van market with its 1950s original, complete with Beetle-derived air-cooled engined. The Transporter is the latest in this long line of Volkswagen vans and, like its illustrious ancestors, it comes in a broad range of body styles to appeal to everyone from tradesmen to surfers.

Volkswagen's simple panel van version of the Transporter is the most common model, but it also gives rise to the crew cab, chassis cab, double chassis cab, a Shuttle minibus and even the California campervan. The Caravelle is the plush people carrying version but the Transporter Kombi has plenty of appeal has a half-way house between a works vehicle and a family car.

On top of this, Volkswagen has also grasped the desire of many van buyers to personalise their van so it’s a little more than just a work vehicle. There are plenty of extras available - both aftermarket and directly from Volkswagen.

The Sportline models take care of this custom side of the Transporter’s offering and they come complete with a 180PS twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that delivers strong acceleration and relaxed cruising. This model also gives the buyer the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic for seamlessly smooth gear changes.

The 180PS engine can also be ordered for the standard Transporter models, but most buyers tend towards the 2.0-litre turbodiesel in 84PS, 102PS and 140PS forms.

As you would expect of a Volkswagen, build quality is excellent and the Transporter enjoys some of the best residual values in its class. It’s also well equipped and every model comes with ESP traction control, hill hold control and driver and passenger airbags.

Long-term test Volkswagen Transporter 2.0 BiTDI Kombi Sportline


Used Buying Guide - T5 Transporter

Just like the Golf in the car world, so too the Volkswagen Transporter has an unrivalled reputation for quality and desirability. And it makes a good used buy, although with any van there are things to look out for. Check out our T5 buying guide.

Read the buying guide here >>

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Ask Honest John

Can I get multi vehicle insurance for three cars?

"I'm the owner/driver of two vehicles, a VW Transporter, business use fully comp and Insured for max mileage of 5k per annum and my runabout Ford Mondeo estate, insured for under 2k p.a. I would like to acquire my elderly mother's Vauxhall Vectra Estate too, as she's sadly had to give up driving now. Is there an insurance policy that would cover me for all three vehicles on one policy, rather than three individual ones? I'm pushing 65 shortly, with a blemish free accident and convictions history. Can you point me in the right direction please?"
It is possible to get one insurance policy that covers several vehicles. Insurers that offer this service will generally give you a discount for each additional vehicle you add (usually up to five vehicles), so this would seem an ideal solution here. The downside is that because this isn't offered by all insurers, you generally can't use price comparison websites to get lots of quotes at once - you'll have to go old-school and do some ringing around. Google will help you find insurers that offer this service, but as a starting point you can try Admiral, Aviva, Endsleigh and Liverpool Victoria. It may also be worth calling up your current insurer and asking if it's something they can help with.
Answered by David Ross

What is the car tax on my converted VW Transporter?

"I own a 2012 Volkswagen T5 which was converted in 2017 to a pop-top camper with windows etc. My V5C section D5 body type was changed to motor caravan in 2018. What should I be paying for road tax?"
If your Volkswagen T5 is now registered as a motorhome, the VED is based mostly on weight. If it is under 3500kg the cost is £200 for engines under 1549cc, and £325 for vehicles over 1549cc - we're assuming your T5 will be paying this rate. If it is over 3500kg then it is £165 a year.
Answered by David Ross

Best replacement for a Volkswagen T5?

"Our Volkswagen T5 just keeps on going (320,000 miles) but we would like to replace with a cleaner van. We don't want full electric (yet), and we don't think we should be buying a new diesel. Are there any hybrids coming along? We like the smaller Peugeot Traveller/Citroen Space Tourer/Vauxhall Vivaro Life but think a Peugeot Rifter/Citroen Berlingo is too small. Or should we stick with the T5 for a few more years?"
The Volkswagen T5 Transporter diesel engine has an excellent reputation for reliability, I'm not surprised to read that your van has hit 320,000 miles. If you are happy with your Transporter experience, you might want to consider the newer T6 model or consider the Ford Transit Custom. The Peugeot Traveller/Citroen SpaceTourer/Vauxhall Vivaro Life are all excellent vans but I would recommend the Toyota Proace Verso version, which has a manufacturer warranty that can be extended up to 10 years if you keep it serviced within the Toyota dealer network.
Answered by Dan Powell

Are the engines good in a Volkswagen T5?

"Are the engines good in a Volkswagen T5 (2004-2008)? "
The 1.9 and 2.5 diesels are good engines. Avoid the bi-turbos. The five-cylinder 2.5-litre is gear-driven, which means you don't need to worry about cam belt changes. That said, it's important to note that the average vehicle in the UK is scrapped at 13 or 14 years. This means the condition of the engine (in the van you buy) will only be as good as its service record. As a minimum, the van should have a history that shows a yearly service and oil change. Mechanically the T5 is robust, but flywheel failures are common. Signs of failure include rattling from the engine, juddering or vibrations through the steering wheel. You'll be looking at a bill of up to £1000 to replace the flywheel.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen T5 Transporter (2003 – 2015) cost?