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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For There's space for seven in a versatile cabin that is solidly bolted together

Against Dearer than sister MPVs from Ford and Seat, and seats are heavy to lift out

Verdict Comfortable, roomy seven-seater that’s rewarding to drive

Go for… 1.9 TDI (110)

Avoid… V6

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Volkswagen Sharan MPV full review with expert trade views

If you’ve driven a Ford Galaxy or Seat Alhambra, you’ve driven a Sharan. They’re identical apart from differing levels of equipment and gentle corporate identity kits.

They’re also pretty good to drive. Like its brothers, the Sharan is tidy around corners. And, while the ride is firm, it's never uncomfortably so, and becomes smoother at higher speeds.

Cruising suits the Sharan well. All the engines are muted and the cabin is free from other intrusive noise. The seats are comfortable on long hauls, while the good driving position and fine all-round vision help shrink the miles, too.

Last, but very definitely not least, the Sharan's practicality is very good. All seven seats can be folded and slid, while the five rearmost ones can be removed, given enough muscle and patience. Cargo space is huge when you do, but (in common with many other MPVs) very limited with all seven seats in place.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular especially with 1.9 TDi PD 115 engine and SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The low-down muscle of the 1.9 TDI turbodiesel suits the Sharan best, and you can take your pick from 90, 110, 115 and 130bhp versions. All are smooth, quiet and strong, and sip their fuel at a gentle rate.

There’s also a 138bhp 2.0 TDI turbodiesel available on newer Sharans, but overall we prefer the 110bhp and 115bhp engines.

Alternatively, there are three petrols and the best of them is the 150bhp turbocharged 1.8T. The 113bhp 2.0 feels underpowered with a load on board, whereas the 201bhp 2.8-litre V6 – also available with four-wheel drive – is rapid and sweet, but too thirsty for most pockets.

As is so often the case, the later the car the better. A face-lift in 2000 brought slightly smarter looks and better equipment levels, which were improved again in 2002. All have plenty of safety kit, air-con, electric front windows and alloy wheels as standard, but if you want the full-on luxury treatment go for Carat or SE trim.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability: big bills and failure rates - not as good as the Galaxy

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The Sharan is dearer to buy than its siblings, the Ford Galaxy and Seat Alhambra, but it will hold its value pretty well – the snob value of its badge helps – and you shouldn’t have to give your plastic a beating to keep it on the road.

It’s pretty reliable, too, so unscheduled maintenance is likely to be kept to a minimum, and routine service costs are in line with those of most of its rivals, including the Galaxy and Alhambra.

Insurance is also reasonable. Reckon on paying for group 11 or 12 whichever you buy, unless you’ve gone for the group 15 V6 petrol. If you have, you’ll be getting low to mid-20s to the gallon. However, the diesels hover around the 40mpg mark – very good given the Sharan’s size and weight. The 2.0 and 1.8 T petrols drop that to about 30mpg, but that's still far from bad.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular especially with 1.9 TDi PD 115 engine and SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Electrical gremlins can strike the Sharan – faulty electric windows, alarms, immobilisers, central locking, and so on – so give everything operated by a button or switch a thorough going over. On early cars, leaks through the ventilation can cause the electrics to go haywire, although this was cured on later models.

Pay particular attention to the air-con, which is one of the most trouble-prone features of the Sharan - and one of the most expensive to fix (a four-figure sum isn’t uncommon). A separate fault can prevent the wipers from being switched off.

Watch out for worn or knocking suspension, and not just on cars that have had a hard life. Ensure the car goes and stops straight and that tyre wear is consistent.

The interior is pretty robust but check for signs of abuse from over-ambitious cargo shifters and, more likely, bored young children on the school run.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability: big bills and failure rates - not as good as the Galaxy

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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