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Road Test


Volkswagen LT35

by Ken Walker

8th November, 2006


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Can the Volkswagen LT 35 van deliver?

A quick look at the LT reveals there is a range of cargo vans and cab/chassis single cab units on the Australian market.

The cargo van is available in three models; LT28, LT35 and LT45. The LT45 being the largest of the trio.

This time our intrepid team takes the LT35 cargo van out for a test run over a few weeks to check its capabilities.

The first thing I noticed about the LT35 when climbing into the drivers cab was the weight adjustable driver's suspension seat. This is a real plus in my opinion.

But it's time to hit the road for an initial reaction. It quickly comes to the driver's attention that this is not at all a rough package. It is not even bouncy on city and suburban streets, as it is quite stable when unladen, even better when loaded and the suspension seat certainly adds comfort. This terrific seat also has quite a large bottle holder mounted on the rear of the seat, within a relatively easy reach.

Power windows, power mirrors, central locking and two airbags are standard on the LT35. An AM/FM radio with CD player, plus air conditioning and power steering make this van a comfortable environment to work in.

Overall the LT35 medium wheelbase van (MWB) is 5.585 metres long with a cargo area length of a pleasing 3.265 metres. With the ability to carry 2 pallets, weighing up to 1,548 kgs the LT35 MWB van makes an ideal delivery vehicle in many circumstances. Loading is aided by a lateral sliding door and the wide opening rear doors. Eight lashing eyes for securing loads are located within the cargo area which also has several internal roof mounted lights that illuminate when the doors are opened. The load area can be partitioned from the cabin by installing an optional screen, with or without a window. For couriers or delivery drivers requiring internal access to the cargo area a vertical half partition is also available as an optional extra.

A tool kit located under a panel in the floor of the passenger’s side includes a mechanical jack, wheel nut wrench and two open ended spanners. There is also enough space to add several screwdrivers and maybe an adjustable spanner. Both front doors have large concealed pockets for maps and other documents.

The van is powered by VWs extremely flexible 2.5 litre 5-cylinder turbo diesel engine which delivers 80 kW of power at 3,500 rpm. Torque is a particularly pleasing 280 Nm at 1,400 - 2,400 rpm. A larger 4 cylinder engine developing 116 kW at 3,500 rpm and 331 Nm of torque at 1,800-3,000 rpm is available as an optional extra. The 5 cylinder unit is possibly one of the best available in today’s market and mated to a 5 speed manual transmission propelled the LT35 along the F3 freeway from Sydney to Newcastle at the posted speed limits without so much as a hiccup. The van, although empty, did not require any down shifts to make the steep climbs after crossing the Hawkesbury and Mooney Mooney Bridges.

Auto transmission is not available in the LT range.

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The LT35 has a front axle with independent suspension, transverse leaf springs with gas filled shock absorbers and bump stops with a 25mm anti roll bar. The rear end sits on a rigid axle with parabolic springs, shock absorbers and bump stops. Steering is power assisted rack and pinion. Tyres are 225/70R15 fitted on 6Jx15 steel rims.

The van is brought to a standstill by a good braking system, which features disc brakes on all four wheels. Also featured are warning lamps for brake fluid level and brake pad wear limit. An excellent idea as it takes the guess work away from the driver/owner. The hand brake is the only flaw I found in this otherwise terrific vehicle, I had to reach right down to grab the handle. Not an ideal position to be in, in the event of a simultaneous rear end collision. A foot operated parking brake seems to be ideal solution for a large commercial van such as the VW LT35.

Build quality and the standard of finish were all of the highest quality. In fact, this is what we expect from the Wolfsburg company.

Pricing for the LT35 MWB currently starts at $47,990.00 for the 80 kW powered model. Dealer delivery and state/territory government charges are extra.

The accessories list has quite a number of worthwhile items and prospective buyers should check at their local VW dealer for additions which maybe suitable for their needs.

Whilst the Next Car team does not conduct fuel economy tests, VW state that the 80 kW TDI engine should consume 8.0 litres per hundred kilometres at 90 km/h with a half load. That sounds like the consumption we experienced and, as such, we were fully satisfied with the economy provided by this big van.

Little wonder that the LT has found itself as an appropriate platform for motor homes. Perhaps VW can find a suitable automatic transmission for the LT series and a V6 turbo diesel to make this package even better. I drove the LT35 van for a more than a week and must confess the experience was fully satisfying.

The LT range of commercial vehicles will be replaced in 2007 by the new VW Crafter. In the meantime, the LT35 has proved that Volkswagen has the goods to effective compete in Australia's commercial van market.

My verdict: just simply a great vehicle ..... Wunderbar!!!

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Read Stephen Walker's road test of the Volkswagen LT35: here.

Other Volkswagen content: here.

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