Should we buy a petrol or diesel Volkswagen Caravelle?

Parents are split between wanting a petrol or diesel engine in their next campervan...

Volkswagen Caravelle

Please can you help with a major dilemma: my partner and I have decided that a Volkswagen Caravelle is the vehicle that best meets our current family needs, but we can’t decide whether to buy a diesel or a petrol model. I’ve always had diesels in the past and have never owned a petrol car. However, my husband is the opposite and thinks this is the right time to go petrol.

We need to choose between the 2.0 TDI diesel and the 2.0 TSI petrol. I’ve been looking at ex-demonstrators. The diesel models I’ve looked at are cheaper than petrol models. Should I worry that this is a sign that the market for diesel vehicles has already crashed?

We live in South Devon, which is fairly hilly. I’ll be using the vehicle for school runs, getting to the local shops and for weekend round trips of 40 miles on dual carriageways. There will also be one or two trips a year from Devon to Lancashire. I’d appreciate your view on petrol versus diesel in these circumstances.

Helen Grant

What Car? says…

The bad publicity about Volkswagen cheating on official diesel emissions tests a couple of years ago and the more recent changes to the cost of road tax have dented the buying public’s confidence in diesel cars. However, the latest diesel engines – Euro 6-compliant ones in particular – emit very little NOx and other particulates, so they aren’t putting more harmful emissions into the air than their petrol counterparts.

Volkswagen Caravelle

In fact, if you go for a diesel Caravelle, the CO2 emissions are a fair bit lower than those of the petrol model (164g/km vs 210g/km), so it’s better for the environment in terms of global warming. Also, its official fuel economy is much better: 45mpg for the diesel compared with 31mpg for the petrol, so you'll use less fuel.

While diesel cars are being targeted for extra charges when driving in city centres, such as London's new Ultra Low Emission Zone, it doesn’t sound like this would affect you too often. So if better fuel economy is important to you, we’d recommend the diesel. That said, there’s nothing wrong with the petrol aside from its greater fuel consumption, so it's also a good choice.

As for the values of diesel vehicles, we do expect them to fall for cars with smaller engines, especially if they're being bought for use in cities. But research among used car buyers shows that diesel will remain popular with those looking to buy vehicles with engines of 2.0 litres or larger. This is because it's widely recognised that diesel engines are better suited to large, high-capacity vehicles, such as large and luxury SUVs and MPVs.

Best and worst MPVs and people carriers 


There was a time when all a good MPV needed to do was to provide space for the whole family, and have a big enough fuel tank to cope with long motorway journeys.

Things are a little different now, though. Outright space is still important, but how that space is packaged is even more critical. A new people carrier should offer a versatile interior that can adapt to a raft of scenarios. And if it seats seven, the rear pair should be able to fold flat into the floor.

Our favourite MPVs also provide a comfortable, relaxing environment, plus plenty of safety kit to protect passengers from harm. And, of course, affordable running costs are crucial.

Here we count down the top 10 MPVs on sale right now. And we reveal the model that's best avoided.

10. Citroën C4 Spacetourer

Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer

The C4 Spacetourer is one of the most versatile five-seat cars around, with a roomy boot and seats that slide and fold independently. Its sleek, uncluttered dashboard is seriously classy, too. Just don't expect the Spacetourer to be particularly fun to drive.

Read our full Citroën C4 Spacetourer review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

9. Volkswagen Sharan

Volkswagen Sharan

With a strong range of diesel engines and smooth handling, the Sharan handles more like a saloon car than a full-sized MPV. There's also an excellent driving position and plenty of space for seven people, although the seats are quite heavy to fold up and down.

Read our full Volkswagen Sharan review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

8. Seat Alhambra

Seat Alhambra front

The Alhambra has all the strengths of the Sharan, but costs less to buy. That was enough to make it our MPV of the Year between 2011 and 2013, and while the Alhambra's huge size can take some getting used to, in return you get near faultless practicality and space for seven adults.

Read our full Seat Alhambra review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

Next: more of our favourite MPVs >

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