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New eHybrid VW Multivan would have made the hippies happy

 Published 14th July 2021
General Guides  New Launches 

The Volkswagen Multivan is the replacement for the outgoing Caravelle. With up to seven seats and a brilliant combination of practicality, comfort, and reliability, the Caravelle has done everything from chauffeuring VIPs, to ferrying the kids to school run, to the greatest holiday adventures. Ever.

Luckily, the new name indicates a complete overhaul in terms of design and technology, but at heart it still carries the same DNA.

Inside, the new Multivan is more flexible and spacious than ever, with a new modular, lightweight seating system and innovative moving table. It's available in three specifications:

- Multivan
- Life, and
- Style.

And in a move that the flower power generation who first embraced the VW would definitely approve of, the VW Multivan will now be available with an environmentally aware hybrid powertrain.

The Multivan has an all-new exterior design that harks back to the 1985 Transporter T3, with its horizontal lines and full-width grille and headlights given a modern tweak. The A-pillars have been remodelled to improve visibility, and the body-coloured front air intakes have been reduced in a nod to the heritage of the rear air-cooled engines of the first three generations.

all-new vw multivan

VW has given the Multivan unique front and rear light signatures with LED headlights as standard. These can be upgraded to the interactive IQ.LIGHT system which offers a permanent full beam, without blinding oncoming drivers and dynamic cornering to light up the bends. The IQ.LIGHT system also adds an LED bar in the radiator grille as part of the daytime running lights.

The new Multivan is a sizeable thing. In numbers, it measures 1,941mm wide, 4,973mm long, up to 1,903mm high, and with a wheelbase of 3,124mm. There's also a longer version that takes it up to 5,173mm. Overall, this new model has a longer wheelbase and wider, lower profile, all designed to improve aerodynamics, lower fuel consumption, and increase range.

Those numbers translate into lots of interior space too.

With space for up to seven seats, the rear five of which can be moved and removed to suit, while the second row can be rotated 180-degrees to create a conference style seating area. The full-width bench seat for the third row has been replaced by individual seats to allow single seats to be removed for complete flexibility. An adjustable height multi-function table with folding leaves, cup holders, and a storage bin has been fitted to the new Multivan too. Running along a central track, it can be moved between any of the seating rows, including between the front seats as a centre console.

An optional panoramic glass roof can bring even more light into the cabin, and access is easy with an electrically operated rear hatch and power sliding doors, which can be operated via gesture control when your hands are full.

The cockpit has been completely redesigned around a new multi-function steering wheel, the 10.25-inch ‘Digital Cockpit' display and the 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. Centrally arranged between the two on a high-gloss black surface are the new shift-by-wire DSG controls, two USB-C sockets as standard, and a tray for optional inductive smartphone charging. There's even a head-up display available.

Basically, that means all the key functions in the new Multivan are in one line of sight for easy operation, with secondary touch controls operating the air-conditioning, seat heating, audio volume, etc. There's also a host of smart features and connectivity options for the satnav and safety systems.

all-new vw multivan

The Multivan features more than 34 driver assist systems enhancing safety, comfort, and convenience. Standard is the Front Assist area monitoring system, which includes City Emergency Braking, Dynamic Road Sign Display, and the Lane Assist system. It even offers IQ.DRIVE Travel Assist, which combines the predictive Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Assist to make long-distance journeys safer and easier.

Equally useful in such a sizeable vehicle is VW's Area View, a 360-degree view created using four cameras to make parking and manoeuvring as safe and easy as possible.

All of which sits on the Volkswagen Group's MQB platform, giving the new Multivan a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option for the first time.

The Multivan eHybrid combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor to produce a combined power output of around 215bhp. Plenty of power for motorway cruising, lots of torque to give the Multivan a 2-tonne towing capacity, and all with the option of silent, zero-emission driving in electric only mode. The 13kWh lithium-ion battery is housed under the Multivan's flat floor, saving interior space and lowering the vehicle's centre of gravity to improve handling.

all-new vw multivan

The eHybrid version uses a bespoke six-speed DSG gearbox. The VW Multivan is also available with two four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines, either 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre, with a four-cylinder turbo diesel joining the line-up next year. All of these are paired with a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard.

So, the name might have changed but the spirit of the Caravelle has been carefully transferred to the 21st century.

Loads of interior space, seating for seven people, comfort, ease of use, not to mention the sheer variety of uses the new Multivan could be put to with its modular seating arrangement. Add the economy and running costs of a plug-in hybrid and you very quickly run out of reasons not to make the new Volkswagen Multivan your next lease car.

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