VW Transporter T5…I have to be careful what I write about this car, otherwise, I’ll get picked up, either by ambulance or police. VW Transporter T5, the car I have to be careful what I write about.

VW Transporter T5 comes in 2003 to retire the T4 and was ready to take your eyes and money. It came slightly cheaper than the old T4, and now it came with so many features that even Sofia Vergara was envious. Power steering, electric windows, radio, seats, things that were missing on the T4 and came standard on the T5. Not to say that the police get hot in their equipment quickly and need to cool down. And if they don’t have someone (literally) to cool off on, they’ll crank up the air conditioning.

Oh yeah, if you don’t care much about what I’m writing here because you have to leave for Germany in two hours, I’ll tell you right now that the VW Transporter T5 is much more comfortable and closer to a normal car, but much weaker in reliability than the old T4. Not to mention the Vito. However, considering the fact that Europe is still full of T5s and that many still aspire to this car and many others partly owe their lives to the T5, this van is to the commercial area what the Golf V is to the touring area. The continuation of a legendary car, which was bought more on the reputaion of the previous car that isn’t that good but where you lie enough to be happy with it.


VW Transporter T5 Engines


  • 2.0 MPI of 116 horsepower  – Originally fitted on the Golf IV, Passat B5, and Skoda Superb I, this petrol engine is petrol powered in name only. With maximum power available from idle, this famous “2. slow” sacrifices performance for total reliability, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea on a commercial vehicle. Some of them can take up on the habit of drinking oil.
  • 2.0 TFSI of 204 horsepower  – Engines up to 2013 have the infamous oil incontinence issue we talked about in more detail in the Audi A4 B8 article. On top of that, you also get timing chain issues so make an effort and get a post-2013 model. That is if you’re interested in a Transporter with a supercharged 2-liter engine. It’s a car more obscure than Da Bush Babee’s music.
  • 3.2 of Vr6 235 horsepower  – If you need to deliver justice, batons, maces or pigs, and really quick, the 3.2 Vr6 is the engine for you. Just like the 2.8 Vr6 from the previous generation, if you have enough maintenance budget this engine will last long and well.


  • 1.9 TDI of 84 and 102 horsepower – The old 1.9 TDI does its job with dignity on the T5, even if it’s an engine for lesser type of work. An engine more for private buyers, who are taking the family on holiday.
  • 2.0 TDI of 84, 102 and 114 horsepower – It’s good they put the Ibiza engine in the Transporter. A not very bright engine in terms of reliability and performance, VW took a touring engine, detuned it and put it straight on the commercial van. Why bother making a dedicated van engine.
  • 2.0 BiTDI of 180 horsepower  – So good is this engine that the cracking EGR cooler and bits of aluminium come off and end up in the oil and then the engine make the 2.0 Bi-TDI such a hated engine.
  • 2.5 TDI of 131 and 174 hp – The legendary 2.5 R5 that made this Transporter famous. In my opinion, this was the only engine that needed to be sold. I also talked in the Touareg article about this engine. The only major issue is that it has timing gears, meaning that the timing kit never gets repalced. This also means that the water pump, which normally is replaced with the timing kit, is forgotten and when it breaks down it and if you ignore it long enough it will crack your engine block. Otherwise, this engine has proven its reliability in both the police and ambulances. It’s not about how many miles they do, it’s about how many hours they spend idling. In case you didn’t know, idling is the most damaging to the engine. In a normal car where you idle for a few minutes occasionally there is no issue, but in an ambulance where you idle for hours, it’s already another stress.


VW Transporter T5 General Issues

  • The manual gearbox on the 1.9 TDI and 2.5 TDI diesels have bearing issues and will need to be replaced somewhere around 200,000 km. Basically, you try to put it in gear and nothing happens, no matter how hard you try. It’s like texting a chick who’s in a different league to you. You keep trying and texting her and nothing happens.
  • The DSG automatic transmission miraculously returns and makes trouble wherever it goes. In this case, the victim is the 2.0 TDI so pray that the Mechatronic doesn’t fail and change the oil on time.
  • Rust upon rust and the VW Transporter T5 doesn’t escape either. If it didn’t have rust, it wouldn’t be VW. Mysteriously, it’s so bad that even the plastic is rusting. It usually starts at the fenders, sills, ceiling, steering wheel etc so check everything.
  • Moving on to electrics and going over the couplings for the AC, Servo and starter motor. And while we’re on the subject of the starter motor, you’ll have to buy one to keep in the garage, you never know.


VW Transporter T5 Verdict

The VW Transporter T5 is an excellent commercial car, as long as you don’t put it to work too hard. Basically, it’s a Passat for those who haven’t heard of vasectomy. Basically, it’s a Passat for the police. Yes, it’s not as hard-working as the old T4, but it’s proven itself capable even when put to a lot of work and little maintenance despite not being necesarilly built for this.

Which engines do you recommend? For petrol, I recommend straight 3.2 Vr6 with 235 hp, and for diesel, just the 2.5 TDI, whether 131 or 174 hp.