With over 500 000km on the clock, folk-rock musician, Heather Waters and her 1975 Sharky Bandwagon Kombi have been making musical memories all over South Africa. Heather and her band have been road tripping the coast of South Africa in her 1975 Volkswagen Kombi for the last decade.
Known for her honest and witty lyrics and musical energy reminiscent of the 1960s, this songwriter has performed at theatres, backpackers, markets and festivals on and off the beaten track. In 2016 with the release of her album ‘Castles & Towers’ and its success on local radio stations across the country, Volkswagen SA mobilized this rousing musician with the sixth-generation Volkswagen Kombi Caravelle for a safer, more comfortable, and better equipped tour bus life.
Since May 2016, Heather Waters and her crew have travelled more than 20,000km throughout the beautiful landscape of South Africa, while her single ‘Pick Daisies’ topped radio charts as far and fast as the new T6 drove them. Chatting to Briers Coetzee, one of her band members about this latest edition to their Volkswagen family, he gave us some insights to their driving experience, the Caravelle’s performance and innovative efficiency.
‘At first glance, the Caravelle can look a bit intimidating, but after driving it for the first time, you feel relaxed and totally safe in this intelligent machine. I love driving it. Sometimes it feels almost too easy. Every time you get behind the wheel it feels like you are on a treasure hunt, discovering new gems in the Caravelle.’
The T6 has rain sensor windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, cruise control, an automatic 7-speed gearbox and a smart braking system does not leave much for you to do but direct this beast in whichever direction you choose. But looking a bit closer, you discover even more: the computer screen next to the speedometer displays all kinds of information, from average fuel consumption to driver alert fatigue messages. The automatic gearbox also features tiptronic gears for more power on those uphills. Not that you need that much either, with a torque of 400Nm at 1500r/min, hills are never a problem. USB charging points in the front and back of the vehicle means multimedia devices are always charged and ready for use. ‘This is very convenient when spending a lot of time on the road as we need to stay connected with our fans.’ Connecting multimedia devices with the vehicle via Bluetooth is also very simple and easy.
‘Petrol consumption is fantastic! Over a distance of 6 000km, with the boot fully loaded, a trailer and a team of four musicians we averaged 9.6 litres/100km.’ That is under 10km per litre, despite the heavy load. This 2-litre diesel front wheel drive produces 132kW at 4000r/min. ‘For the first time in 10 years we actually have to slow down on an uphill, a definite first for me’, laughs Coetzee. Waters herself is just as excited about the new tour bus: ‘Touring and long distance travelling is second nature for us and although we love our 1975 Kombi dearly, we have thoroughly enjoyed all the T6’s high tech features, safety, reliability and getting to our shows on time!’ ‘Oh and comfort’, she adds. The Caravelle is a travelling hotel room!’
It has independently controlled heated seats, climate control, swivel seats easily adjustable for multiple layouts in the back (including a comfortable bed) as well as accessible storage underneath all the back seats. With all these enthusiastic rave reviews, I am most tempted to head to my nearest VW dealer – or maybe hitch a ride on the next Heather Waters tour…
Words: Beatrice Esterhuysen