The Sharan is available with two turbocharged petrol engines – a 148bhp 1.4-litre and a 197bhp 2.0-litre. However, the 138bhp and 168bhp 2.0-litre diesels suit the car better because of their extra mid-range muscle. Volkswagen’s DSG semi-automatic gearbox is standard with the 2.0-litre petrol and an option across the rest of the range.
So far, we’ve only driven cars with the optional Adaptive Chassis Control, which lets you choose from three suspension settings, but you don’t have to fiddle with this much because it strikes a good balance between comfort and control when you leave it in the normal setting. Accurate steering adds to the Sharan’s appeal, although its bus-like proportions can make it tricky to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
There’s some wind noise around the door mirrors at motorway speeds, but the diesel engines stay smooth and hushed at all times and road noise isn’t an issue unless the surface is particularly coarse. An engine stop-start system that reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is standard on all but the 2.0-litre petrol and is fairly unobtrusive.
The Sharan costs about the same as equivalent versions of the Ford Galaxy. Average fuel economy and CO2 emissions are also competitive, and the Sharan will hold its value better than the Ford over three years.
The Sharan’s dashboard is covered in classy soft-touch plastics and, although the materials get harder as you move back through the car, they still look and feel reassuringly solid. Volkswagen has a good reliability record, too, consistently scoring well in the annual JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
The Sharan has a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, and every model comes with stability control, a tyre pressure-monitoring system and seven airbags, including a driver’s knee bag and curtain airbags that run the full length of the cabin. Deadlocks, marked parts and an alarm are also standard across the range, while SE models and above have locking wheelnuts to protect their alloys.
Like many MPVs, the Sharan has small front quarterlight windows, so your view through corners could be better. However, the driving position is elevated and there’s loads of seat- and steering wheel adjustment to help you get comfortable. The dashboard is bespoke, but most of the switchgear is borrowed from other Volkswagen models and a doddle to use. There are lots of useful cubbies around the driver, too.
The Sharan has plenty of space for seven, and you’ll find it surprisingly easy to get kids in and out in tight parking spaces thanks to its sliding rear doors. The five rear seats can all be folded flat when you need to transport really big loads, but the boot is still huge in five-seat mode and there’s even enough space for a decent amount of luggage when all the seats are upright. Our only real criticism is that the third-row seats are a bit of a fuss to fold flat.
The entry-level S model comes with front and rear electric windows, climate control and an eight-speaker stereo with a socket for your iPod. However, you need to upgrade to SE trim to get steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, Bluetooth connectivity and alloy wheels. SEL spec adds cruise control, a CD changer and a panoramic sunroof, while Executive models feature full leather upholstery and six seats instead of the usual seven.
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