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  1. #1
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    Default Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    After a friend recently got a California, I started asking myself if a 4motion Transporter/Caravelle is suitable for overlanding and, to be specific, gravel roads, sand and rough tracks? Let's arguably say for Richtersveld use or cruising the sands of Botswana.

    I wouldn't look at a California per say as I think the add-ons are a bit gimmicky and it's for everyday commuting as well. I'd rather look at a Transporter / Caravelle and take it from there.
    Disclaimer - All my posts on this forum is without prejudice, is based on my fair assumptions or perceptions, might not be factually correct, is in no way intended to cause harm to anyone and is acted upon at your own discretion.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I would. I did a LOT of dodgy areas in the old Transkei and Wild Coast in a 2.5i Microbus which was RWD as you know.

    Got stuck once on a beach. Tyre pressure wrong and towing a trailer.

    If we had had the Synchro, it would have been a breeze.

    So a new age Transporter T5 Caravelle/Kombi with 4Motion 4WD/AWD would tick all my boxes if I was looking for something similar.
    Jakes Louw
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I understand it doesn't have a torque converter like the 4motion Amarok. What would be the impact of that? I guess here you fair and square don't have low range capability in the somehow twisted Amarok way?
    Last edited by George; 2021/08/18 at 11:49 AM.
    Disclaimer - All my posts on this forum is without prejudice, is based on my fair assumptions or perceptions, might not be factually correct, is in no way intended to cause harm to anyone and is acted upon at your own discretion.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    I would. I did a LOT of dodgy areas in the old Transkei and Wild Coast in a 2.5i Microbus which was RWD as you know.

    Got stuck once on a beach. Tyre pressure wrong and towing a trailer.

    If we had had the Synchro, it would have been a breeze.

    So a new age Transporter T5 Caravelle/Kombi with 4Motion 4WD/AWD would tick all my boxes if I was looking for something similar.

    My FIL has over the last few months been converting one to an overlanding vehicle for a customer of his. His choice of paint scheme and mags is not my cup of tea, however they have added on some nice things to the vehicle, including fuel filters, water separators, so that it can go further north. Brave, not my choice of vehicle but I don't see why not with a few nice additions.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Mike

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I understand it doesn't have a torque converter like the 4motion Amarok. What would be the impact of that? I guess here you fair and square don't have low range capability in the somehow twisted Amarok way?

    Correct, my father has a T6 4motion DSG and is used for more overlanding and hasn't had any issues. Good in sand etc.

    The need for low range would really depend on how extreme you plan on taking your overlanding.
    Mike

    Out in the bush!

    2012 Amarok with a transfer case
    1956 Series 1 (now in boxes, Covid delayed the rebuild)
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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by AfricainHD View Post
    My FIL has over the last few months been converting one to an overlanding vehicle for a customer of his. His choice of paint scheme and mags is not my cup of tea, however they have added on some nice things to the vehicle, including fuel filters, water separators, so that it can go further north. Brave, not my choice of vehicle but I don't see why not with a few nice additions.

    Our neighbours don't like camo vehicles crossing their borders

    He may run into some problems.........

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Ejay View Post
    Our neighbours don't like camo vehicles crossing their borders

    He may run into some problems.........

    First thing I said when I was sent this photo.... asking for some trouble. And it is raptor coated, had a little bit of sick in my mouth again just talking about it. That vehicle has 800km's on the clock
    Mike

    Out in the bush!

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    1956 Series 1 (now in boxes, Covid delayed the rebuild)
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  10. #8
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Ejay View Post
    Our neighbours don't like camo vehicles crossing their borders

    He may run into some problems.........
    correct
    Jakes Louw
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  11. #9
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I had a T3 Syncro and T5 Transporter. Both very capable in many regards but not so happy on corrugated dirt. Hard suspension and many rattles. It certainly won't be my first choice as an overlander. Very practical and comfortable, especially for a family but I hated travelling on bad dirt roads with both.
    There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing!

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  13. #10
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois Theron View Post
    I had a T3 Syncro and T5 Transporter. Both very capable in many regards but not so happy on corrugated dirt. Hard suspension and many rattles. It certainly won't be my first choice as an overlander. Very practical and comfortable, especially for a family but I hated travelling on bad dirt roads with both.
    Interesting. I don't want to spend R900k and then it rattles to pieces on gravel.
    Disclaimer - All my posts on this forum is without prejudice, is based on my fair assumptions or perceptions, might not be factually correct, is in no way intended to cause harm to anyone and is acted upon at your own discretion.

  14. #11
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois Theron View Post
    I had a T3 Syncro and T5 Transporter. Both very capable in many regards but not so happy on corrugated dirt. Hard suspension and many rattles. It certainly won't be my first choice as an overlander. Very practical and comfortable, especially for a family but I hated travelling on bad dirt roads with both.
    Never had this with our T3. Tyres and shocks and speed as you know are the contributing factors. The T3 has a sweet spot like any other vehicle.
    Jakes Louw
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  15. #12
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois Theron View Post
    I had a T3 Syncro and T5 Transporter. Both very capable in many regards but not so happy on corrugated dirt. Hard suspension and many rattles. It certainly won't be my first choice as an overlander. Very practical and comfortable, especially for a family but I hated travelling on bad dirt roads with both.
    +1

    Mad springs, Koni shocks and 225/70R17 will get you halfway there, but still not a great ride on sinkplaat. But if you have 3 or more kids this won't matter anyway, the only choice you get is body colour.

  16. #13
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    I would. I did a LOT of dodgy areas in the old Transkei and Wild Coast in a 2.5i Microbus which was RWD as you know.

    Got stuck once on a beach. Tyre pressure wrong and towing a trailer.

    If we had had the Synchro, it would have been a breeze.

    So a new age Transporter T5 Caravelle/Kombi with 4Motion 4WD/AWD would tick all my boxes if I was looking for something similar.
    Got to agree, had the same and went up and down the beach at Mtunzini year after year when we camped there.
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  17. #14
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Depends on your type of "overlanding". Do you stay south of the boerewors equator?
    In that case it should work. Get the 4motion and fit Eibach springs with lift, some decent AT tyres and you are good to go.

    For anything further north, e.g. real overlanding, I don't think it would be a great choice, purely based on technical support considerations.
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  18. #15
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I always watched the VW bus at the Nampo show 4x4 track and it does things with ease..I think the only real hampering factor for a bit more serious stuff would be ground clearance

  19. #16
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    Obviously depending on how much 4x4ing will be done while overlanding but the 4motion Kombis are very impressive off-road.
    My fiance's sister and her family have the Transporter 4Motion and we once ended up lost in Tala Tala game reserve and on their 4x4 only track, I was asked to drive and was very impressed with how it took on some quite hectic, rutted 4x4 tracks. Only issue was a bit of ground clearance but other than that, it just went with ease, especially some steep rutted inclines. It has a rear difflock which really helps. It was after this that I made up my mind on the Amarok because if the 4motion Kombi could do that, the Amarok without low range will be good enough for anything I'll probably do.

    They live on a farm near Kokstad and drive bad gravel roads everyday, I've driven it there a bit also. It is more than good enough on a dirt road. Theirs is the stripped down Transporter and only complaint on the dirt road was it is a bit noisy inside but since it does not have all the nicer door and side panels inside that help a lot with sound insulation, but I think it still does really well.

    Only thing they have changed is the road tyres for some Silverstone AT's, I think it was the only brand they could find the right size in.
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  20. #17
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I assume the T5 and T6 are both coils and coil-overs?

    Shouldn't be rocket science to put in some coil spacers or even extended length coils and shocks.

    However:

    http://www.seikel.co.za/produkt-kate...kswagen-t5-eh/
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  21. #18
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    We had a soft roaders day, a while back.
    And Cats joined us with his 4 motion Caravell

    We were all suitably impressed that how well it did.

    Ground clearance in its self as such, was not the issue, but with the long wheel base, breakover angle could be an issue sometimes. But how often will that come into play while overlanding?

    Here's part 1 of the video

    https://youtu.be/oMuclDAgZ1M

    (Part 3 also has some good footage of it in action)

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  23. #19
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    I have a 2006 T5 Transporter Crew Bus 4Motion. Mine is still the one with the 2.5 liter 5 cylinder engine, with 6-speed manual transmission. The later model T5s (T5.1) of course came with the 2.0 bi-turbo engine and a choice of either 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG gearbox. Although I do not have personal experience of the 2.0 bi-turbo, they appear to be as reliable as my 2.5. The T6 still uses the 2.0 bi-turbo, but power output has increased over years from initially 132 kW to the current 146 kW. With the T6, the choice of manual transmission was dropped - a pity in my opinion.

    My bus had a Seikel suspension upgrade early in its life, adding 30 mm of ground clearance and much, much better performance over rough terrain. The Seikel suspension is cosiderably firmer than the standard suspension, so the ride could be uncomfortable for some during everyday use. In my cicumstances, where the bus is frequently used on quite bad gravel roads, the compromise is well worh it. I run 235/70/16 AT tyres.

    I have covered just short of 400k km with my bus and I have nothing but praise for it. It is used as our everyday family vehicle, holiday vehicle, name it. We have done several trips along the back roads on the Wild Coast, where the roads can be notoriously bad at times - no problem.

    I found my bus more than capable in most conditions: sand, deepish mud, corrugated gravel roads, any conditions where low range is not required.

    If I must list a few shortcomings of the bus, these will be:

    * First gear ratio too high. A lower gear ratio on first gear would make crawling over bad terrain much easier. I know Seikel offers a package which reduces the ratios of the first three gears, but it is quite expensive.
    * With the increased ride height gained with the Seikel suspension, the CVs take more strain than with the standard suspension due to the different angle it adopts to accomodate the added height. Thus CVs need to be replaced more often.
    * Being a Transporter, with less sound dampening and only hardboard panels to cover the sides and sliding doors on the inside, noise levels and rattles can be quite high, but I have lived with them for many years and still love my bus. (Point mentioned elsewhere in this thread.)

    I will gladly replace mine with a new(er) similar bus when the time comes. Just a pity it will have to be a DSG version.

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  25. #20
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    Default Re: Kombi 4motion as overlanding vehicle

    For my T6 Caravelle, simply changing the 55 profile tyres to 65 profile all terrains made an enourmous difference to its ride comfort and confidence on dirt roads. Huge difference. Much softer ride and much less shaking on bad roads, and more ability to deflate on dirt roads than what the 55s allowed.

    My neighbour just bought a Arizona X, www.masmo.life, very awesome.

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