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Caravelle replacement, the Multivan, heralds a new era for Volkswagen’s MPV

Volkswagen’s Caravelle has been in the line-up in one form or another since the 1950s. More recent variants have been based on the Transporter commercial platform. Volkswagen has now replaced this with the all-new Multivan which is based on the MQB platform for a car-like driving experience, also enabling a PHEV version to be launched.

The VW Multivan follows the same basic premise as the Caravelle, offering space, flexibility and seating for up to seven people, but does so with the added benefit of being based on the brand’s latest platform. From our point of view, the inclusion of a PHEV option alongside the regular selection of petrol and diesels is a great move, especially when many Multivans will end up doing local family bus duties.

PHEV Powertrain

Given the VW Multivan’s underpinnings, which are shared with the Golf PHEV among others, it’s not really a surprise to find the Group’s familiar combo of the 147bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and 114bhp electric motor providing motivation. Maximum system power in the Multivan is 214bhp, but the real boon is going to be using the zero-emissions range made available by the 13kWh battery. There are no official figures on what this is, yet, but for local journeys it should be plenty.

Another bonus is that the Multivan has a towing capacity of 2000kg, meaning that the already flexible nature is further extended with the ability to drag a decent size caravan, boat or similar behind it.

Exterior design

VW says that the new Mulitvan pays homage to its predecessors, back to the Transporter T3 of 1985. It certainly looks sharp for an MPV, though you might have to squint a bit to pick out much of the lineage in the design. LED headlights are standard and can be upgraded to interactive IQ.LIGHT matrix headlights.

Size-wise, the standard Multivan measures 4973mm long with a wheelbase of 3124mm, 1941mm wide and 1903mm high. A longer version measuring 5173mm is available. This makes the Multivan wider and longer than its predecessors, but lower, aiding its aerodynamics to enhance efficiency and range. Optional extras include a panoramic glass roof and electrically-operated rear hatch and power sliding doors which can be operated using gesture control.

Interior

Flexibility is the name of the game with the Multivan. There’s space for up to seven seats, with the five rear seats having the ability to be moved and removed depending on what’s needed. For example, the second row can be rotated through 180 degrees to face the third row, which is now made up of separate seats rather than a bench.

A central table can be moved between any of the seating rows or removed completely. When in place, it can be adjusted for height, has three cup holders and storage. The completely flat floor adds to the functionality of the space, with the removal of the mechanical handbrake and DSG-only gearbox freeing up yet more room.

With all seats in place, there’s 469 litres of space behind the third row of seats. Take these out and this goes up to 1844 litres (1850 litres with the panoramic glass roof) or remove the seats altogether and there’s a cavernous 3672 litres. The long version ups this to 4053 litres.

Tech and safety

Despite its van-like appearance, the Multivan is fitted with a high level of tech, connectivity and safety features. There’s a 10.25 inch digital cockpit alongside a central 10 inch infotainment display. A head-up display is optional. Two USB C sockets deal with charging and wired connectivity, whilst Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Various levels of connected services are available through the integrated eSIM, with the highest level offering services such as media, navigation, pre-conditioning via a smartphone app and charging management.

As standard the Multivan gets a total of 34 safety and assistance systems including front assist area monitoring system including emergency braking, dynamic road sign display and lane assist. Also available is Car2X which offers communication with other nearby vehicles, side protection, cross wind assist and exit warning system. IQ.DRIVE can be specified for semi-autonomous highway driving using the predictive adaptive cruise and lane assist. A 360-degree camera system can be added to make close-quarter manoeuvring easier.

Price and availability

There’s no official word on either the price or exact release date of the VW Multivan, but given the outgoing Caravelle’s list price, we’d expect £50k+ for regular versions, and closer to £55k for the PHEV. It’s due to go on sale in early 2022, but we’ll update you as soon as we know.

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