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The popular Volkswagen Kombi recently saw the addition of a 7-speed DSG gearbox for the short wheelbase derivative and I tested its capabilities in and around Cape Town.
The Volkswagen Kombi is a large vehicle with imposing dimensions at just over 4.8 m in length and almost 2 m in height. The oversize exterior mirrors in body colour help immensely and there are two sliding doors on either side, which greatly improves access to the rear seats. The Kombi is designed to seat eight people comfortably with a generous cargo bay that offers 1 200-litres of space with all the seats in place.
The front seats offer decent lumbar support and arm rests for both the front passenger and driver are standard.
Storage space up front includes a lockable glove compartment with a storage net on the underside, stowage pockets in the doors and front cup holders. Powering this Volkswagen Kombi is a 2.0-litre TDI engine that develops 103 kW and 340 Nm of torque.
The DSG gearbox works hard to find the ideal gear in congested traffic situations and doesn't always get it right, which results in jerky, indecisive gear changes at slower speeds. Like driving a bus, the driver sits high up in the Kombi, which improves all-round visibility and you can’t help but feel like a bus driver behind the wheel. The Volkswagen Kombi is hard-coded into South African history so it's hard not to feel a little nostalgic when jumping behind the wheel of the new one.

The Volkswagen Kombi is available in both short and long wheelbase formats with Trendline and Comfortline trim on offer. Gero Lilleike is a published writer and photographer with most of his work appearing in the fields of travel and motoring.
I wanted to do something out of the ordinary for this test and seeing that the Kombi is first and foremost a people mover, I needed a few people to join me on my escapade.
This test unit came in a rather attractive Olympia Blue Metallic colour with optional dark tinted windows all round and rides on 16-inch alloy wheels, which are standard for this Kombi in Comfortline trim. A large rear tailgate provides access to a low loading bay, which makes loading heavier items easier. The seats can be folded in various ways to create more space or they can be taken out completely that turns the Kombi into a van.
Air conditioning is standard and flows through to the rear, keeping all passengers cool on those hot summer days. On an open highway however, gear changes even out nicely with consistent acceleration inputs. It's now expensive but infinitely easier to drive thanks to the DSG gearbox, even though it can be a bit sluggish between shifts at slow speeds.
Gero has worked in the motoring space for the last four years and enjoys driving and photographing the latest cars.

To solve the problem, I rounded up four under privileged kids from a surf outreach program in Muizenberg and in true Kombi spirit, embarked on a surf mission.
This model also came fitted with an optional tilt and slide sunroof with a sunblind, which was a nice feature.
These numbers are sufficient to power the Kombi around town, but it’s on the highway where that torque ensures decent overtaking power, making the Kombi a great long distance cruiser. With the DSG, you don’t have to worry about shifting gears and can rather focus on keeping the Kombi on the road, which makes it that much easier to live with. It’s big and long which means the driver needs to be extra alert around every corner and care needs to be taken when choosing a place to park, so the optional Park Distance Control (PDC) will definitely be useful. The Kombi Manual SWB is priced from R459 100 and the Kombi Comfortline LWB is priced from R557 500. If you have a big family you want to cart around or you're starting a kids lift club, this is the vehicle for you.
If a smile on a child’s face is anything to go by, then the Kombi could very well be the perfect companion on a long-distance family holiday and is well worth consideration if you are looking for loads of space.

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