Volkswagen Multivan 2023 long-term test

VW Mulitvan lead image

Van-style seven-seater arrives with much to prove to us, VW fans and in-house rivals

Why we’re running it: To see if the Volkswagen Multivan, the latest ICE VW bus, has all of the charms of its predecessors

Month 1 – Specs

Life with a Volkswagen Multivan: Month 1

Welcoming the Multivan to the fleet – 18 January 2023

Van-style seven-seater arrives with much to prove to us, VW fans and in-house rivalshere’s potential for confusion here. This is the Volkswagen Multivan, which you could consider to be the latest in the long line of VW vans stretching back to the original Type 2.

The generations that followed have been dubbed Transporter in T3, T4 and so on forms, right up to the recent T6. Each base Transporter generation has been used for a van and a camper and, more recently, a big comfortable passenger car too.

The T6 has just given way to this, the new T7 Multivan. But this time there’s more because there’s also the electric ID Buzz, plus an upcoming ‘proper’ van based on a joint venture with the Ford Transit, another year away.

So one van will become three. And while VW calls the Multivan the T7, will that necessarily mean it becomes considered by VW aficionados as the ‘proper’ seventh-generation van, the one for living the van life?

The Multivan is the most car-like of the new breed. It’s based on a VW passenger car architecture and comes with seven seats as standard, with two forward-facing ones in the middle row and three in the very back. That’s what’s fitted here, but there’s a seven-seat Conference seat package (the middle row faces backwards) and a six-seat package (only two in the back and they get armrests), but whichever way, each individual seat can slide or be removed, so it’s a flexible interior.

I left it to Max Edleston, our photographer, to find out just how flexible. As soon as the T7 arrived, I handed it to him to use as a tour bus for some musician friends. For 10 days, he was groupie, roadie, driver, technician, gopher and more as he took them nearly 2000 miles around the country.

The Multivan is 5m long, 1.94m wide and 1.91m tall and they say there’s 3672 litres of space behind the front seats. What Max says this translates to is (deep breath): four guitars, three amps, one keyboard, one full drum kit, three pedal boards, one synth pad, three large merchandise boxes (Abbie Ozard, by the way), guitar stand, keyboard stand, five overnight suitcases and two camera bags, plus three seats left in place and occupied by three tired musicians.

Then there’s the two people up front. Max thinks that’s rather good going, and since its return, I’ve taken all the seats out to help some friends move and I’m inclined to agree. With a sliding door each side and a big swing-up tailgate, access is great too.

Those chairs – all five of which are in my shed as I speak, along with a sliding storage box – are heavy, mind, at around 20kg each. My guess is a family will work out what arrangement suits them best, then largely leave them alone.

The Multivan starts at £43,720 for a Life variant with a standard petrol engine but it’s £50k by the time you’ve fitted it with the 215bhp plug-in hybrid with an electric motor and 1.4 turbo petrol, with a six-speed dual-clutch auto and front drive.

That’s what also sits in the front of this particular upmarket Style derivative, which is £59,545 before options. A generous helping of those means this is a £66,000 passenger car, which – with a swanky hi-fi that’s among the best sounds on sale and a panoramic glass roof – is about as expensive as you can make a Multivan. So rivals are not an old Transit with some benches in the back but expensive SUVs and estates with part-time third-row seats.

It looks the part, I’m told. It certainly turns T6 owners’ heads. And in the front cabin, it feels as well assembled as most VWs, right down to the frustrating infotainment screen; though there are real buttons on the steering wheel, and it’s two quick clicks – indicator stalk and wheel button – to turn off the lane keep assist.

That done, it steers smoothly, and the drivetrain is slick. With a charged battery, I’m getting over 20 miles (officially, it’ll do 31 on the WLTP test cycle) in EV mode before it’s depleted, but I’m on fast roads as soon as I leave home. I’d do better in town. Because there’s always some regeneration and oomph left in the battery to electrically assist the engine under acceleration, it doesn’t feel overwhelmed in this 2240kg wagon. As an unplugged hybrid, it’ll return 35mpg.

If you’re plugging it in for the typical daily commute, you might use no fuel on normal days. And there’s the regular 2.0 petrol (31.4mpg) or a 2.0 diesel (42.8mpg) if your life doesn’t work like that.

Whatever the driving mode, it’s quiet, and with nothing in it there’s space for the hi-fi’s sounds to develop nicely. It is a little van-like boomy when empty and rides more smoothly and quietly when it’s full of kit, but either way it’s a pleasingly refined and easy machine to drive. The definitive T7? We’ll see, but I’m enjoying finding out.

Second Opinion

VW launched the Multivan and Buzz at roughly the same time, and the retro-futuristic EV holds the limelight. Shame. In many ways, the Multivan is the more impressive proposition: more handsome, more flexible interior and much more obviously car-like in its dynamic behaviour

Felix Page

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Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style specification

Specs: Price New £59,454 Price as tested £66,619 Options Panoramic sunroof £1500, Discover Pro nav and infotainment £294, Harman Kardon hi-fi £1080, electric seats £1500, two-tone paint £2700

Test Data: Engine 1.4-litre 4 cyls, e-motor, 13kWh battery Power 215bhp Torque 184lb ft Kerb weight 2750kg Top speed 119mph 0-62mph 9.0sec Fuel economy 156.9mpg CO2 41g/km Faults Crashy infotainment Expenses None

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Source: Autocar

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