B us trips are usually more popular with seniors who let themselves be driven through Europe without much haste, that's the coffee break Target. With number 618 things are a little different. So far, he's been in a hurry for most of his life, the number of seats is limited, and it wasn't an advertising trip, but rather the fastest route from Lisbon to Dakar.
Allow T5, 4Motion, start number 618. No. “You haven't missed anything. The actual race of the Dakar Rally will of course be contested by the Race Touareg under the blue and silver Volkswagen logo. The actual purpose of number 618: to transport four of the mechanic crew. Sometimes they drive after the racing cars, sometimes they hurry from camp to camp - occasionally on paved roads, but often directly along the rally route across scree and desert. Around 9,000 kilometers of hectic pace and full power.
With the Rally-T5 on a test drive in Morocco
This time it's not that much of a hurry. We meet number 618 at the last African starting point of the Dakar, in Morocco, to go on tour with him. On remote single-lane donkey paths across the High Atlas, across dried-up river beds, across board-hard corrugated iron slopes and finally into the lively city of Marrakech.
The basis of the racing equipment for the pit crew is the T5 transporter with a short Wheelbase and automatic 4Motion all-wheel drive. Motorization: the top diesel with 174 hp, replaced after the facelift. However, you don't have to hope for a cozy atmosphere in the interior. Everything here smells like rallying. Hardly any paneling, a lot of bare sheet metal, aluminum corrugation on the floor. At the front and rear, two full bucket seats with five-point belts reliably grab the crew. Tied up ready for travel, this results in the highest possible level of safety on the one hand and, apart from the restricted freedom of movement due to the belt, on the other hand an astonishingly high level of driving comfort. Because even at the rudest speed you sit in the neatly padded plastic shells as if cast in them.
With the Seikel chassis you can let it rip
However, it is not just the good-mood diesel under the hood that is responsible for the rapid drive. First and foremost, it is thanks to the substructure that we can really let it rip during the test flight: The T5 stands on a HD chassis from Seikel, garnished with Bilstein dampers. The high 245/75 R 16 tires meet the shortened onesAxle ratio, which means that the engine speed remains roughly the same as the standard version - if necessary, 180 km /h is also not an issue.
A roll cage from the Nienburg specialist Wiechers stiffens the chassis and secures the survival space of the passengers in an undesirable emergency. The 80 liter tank has a rubber bladder in accordance with FIA regulations and is surrounded by a robust metal housing. Fire extinguishers within easy reach, a metal grille to the charging compartment, GPS, trip master and emergency transmitter - the equipment corresponds to the specifications that are also placed on the competition vehicles.
Full rally equipment in the VW T5 Dakar
With this T5 you could easily start the race of the next desert rally. Because desert does not only have to consist of sand, but can also be very stony, the underbody of the T5 is provided with stable reinforcement. Mudguards pull through from front to back under the entire car, withstand thrown boulders as well as rough landing. With this protection and protection equipment, it is not difficult to fall into that racing feeling yourself. Okay, getting in through the cane of the cage and threading it into the Recaro shell is not something for parcel carriers who constantly have to get in and out. But once inside, it's pretty down to business.
Despite the considerable lift and the coarse AT tires, the T5 can be hunted surprisingly civilly and safely over paved roads. However, the real aha experience only follows beyond the tar. Without batting an eyelid with 100 things over a corrugated iron runway - not an issue for the chassis, which leads tight and reacts extremely easy to swallow. The dampers are really great.
A short first gear or a reduction would be nice
Although the background noise in the uninsulated sheet metal housing is considerable, the five-cylinder with the modified exhaust system also trumpets a happy accompaniment, but that's what makes the fun really complete. Nobody needs a radio here. The entanglement, however, is not very intoxicating, which often makes it necessary to use the rear axle lock on the unpaved mountain paths with deep erosion. And the otherwise potent diesel is sound asleep in the rev basement. Only at high speed does it move forward impetuously. However, it lacks crawler gear and gear reduction for tricky sections.