This is the Volkswagen Multivan, the replacement for the outgoing Caravelle MPV and VW’s new Swiss-Army-knife-on-four-wheels for family holidays, moving house and everything else in between.
The reason for the name change? This isn’t just a light-touch facelift, underneath some big alterations have been made. The Multivan has exchanged the Transporter van’s platform for VW’s MQB base, which has freed up the option of plug-in hybrid power on a Volkswagen commercial vehicle for the first time.
The Multivan eHybrid combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor for 215bhp and 251lb ft of torque. We’re yet to hear how far you’ll get on just the 13kWh battery, but the motor can work unaided at up to 81mph.
The rest of the line-up consists of 1.5- and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines producing 134 and 200bhp respectively. Front-wheel drive and an auto ‘box is standard across the line-up, but the eHybrid gets a six-speed DSG while all the rest get seven-speed units.
A four-cylinder diesel will be added to the range in 2022.
Volkswagen says the exterior design is inspired by the Multivan’s predecessors, stretching all the way back to the Transporter T3 of 1985. LED headlights are standard, but you can upgrade to matrix headlights that “offer a permanent full beam” and a dynamic cornering function. There’s also an LED light bar a la Mk8 Golf.
But it’s inside where the game has really moved along. A 10.25in instrument display is teamed with a 10in infotainment system, and there’s a new multi-function steering wheel for ease of use on the go. And while we’re pleased to see the option of a head-up display, we’re baffled by VW’s decision to stick with touch-sensitive buttons for the climate control…
Anyway, the seats. There’s room for up to seven people: everything behind the fronts is 25 per cent lighter than before, and can either be moved or removed entirely. The second row can be spun round to create a conference-style space in the rear, and the third-row bench has made way for three individual seats for maximum flexibility. There’s a clever table too, which can double up as a centre console.
The Multivan comes in short- and long-wheelbase forms. The former is 1,941mm wide, 1,903mm high and 4,973mm long, with a wheelbase of 3,124mm, while the latter grows to 5,173mm from snout to tail. Predictably, storage space is enormous: remove the third row of seats and the standard 469 litres swells to 1,844 litres. Remove the second row and you’re looking at 3,672 litres, or 4,503 litres in the LWB model.
Beyond that, there’s the usual swathe of active safety systems and connected services. Adaptive cruise control and lane keep assistance provide semi-autonomous driving, and VW’s We Connect Plus service lets you control the temperature and charging (on eHybrid models) remotely.
Trim levels include Multivan, Life and Style, with up to 19in wheels available. The rear hatch and sliding doors can be electronically operated, and options include a panoramic glass roof and a 14-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. Oh, and you can tow up to 2,000kg.
The Multivan goes on sale later this year and prices will be announced in due course. If ever there was a case to be made for ‘all the vehicle you ever need’, this is it right?
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