Volkswagen Multivan long-term test: report 1

Our videographer spends his working days on the road before travelling off it for Triathlons at the weekends – will the Volkswagen Multivan prove to be as versatile as he is?...

Sat in Multivan with a video camera

The Car Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 TSI eHybrid Life Run by Jonty Renk, senior videographer

Why it’s here To see if VW have built a car suited to any lifestyle 

Needs to Easily transport lots of equipment, be comfortable on long journeys and offer more functionality than anything in its class.

Mileage 6367 List price £49,345 Target Price £48,618 Price as tested £53,341 Official economy 156.9mpg Test economy 126.2mpg  Options fitted Mono Silver/Energetic Orange £2790, Discover Media Nav £768, Keyless entry £438

19 March 2023 – Multipurpose Multivan

I've always been a big fan of the Volkswagen Type 2 campervan from the 1960s. I think most car buyers can picture one – whether it's driving along a country road, or by a beach in California with rock 'n' roll on the stereo. The point is that, to me, the model represents adventure and a free-spirited nature. And that goes a long way to explaining why there's currently a VW Multivan on my driveway.

But why, you might ask, would I go for the Multivan instead of the VW ID Buzz – which is our reigning Car of the Year and arguably encapsulates the spirit of the Type 2 even more? The answer is that the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Multivan is a more realistic green proposition for me than the all-electric Buzz because I don't have a home car charger and regularly cover mega miles as a What Car? videographer.

Driving the VW Multivan

Like the Buzz, the seven-seat Multivan offers retro-inspired looks (to my eyes, anyway) and loads of space, and while the electric-only range of the PHEV is just 30 miles, once the battery goes flat there’s still a 1.4-litre petrol engine for the rest of my journey. And besides, my morning commute to the What Car? office is 24 miles, so if I can win the race for one of the office's charging points, I'll be able to do most of my commuting on electricity alone.

But can the Multivan earn true adventurer status, like the original Type 2 camper, or is it just a plush van with windows? That's what I aim to find out over the coming months, and the early signs are positive.

As a videographer, I carry stacks of heavy camera equipment around the country filming video reviews for the What Car? YouTube channel. The pace doesn't slow down when I'm not working, either, because I swap the cameras and tripods for bikes and wetsuits, competing in triathlons up and down the country. As you might guess, then, space is a top priority.

Driving the VW Multivan

I don’t just want a box on wheels, though. I'm also hoping the Multivan will be fun to drive and comfortable on longer trips, making the drive home from my day-to-day duties as easy as can be.

My chosen Life model comes with plenty of kit that will help with that comfort. It's the entry-level trim, but gets extremely comfortable front seats with electric lumbar support and fold-down armrests, plus five removable and infinitely adjustable rear seats.

There is also a 10in infotainment system and a 10.25in digital instrument cluster, as well as adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assistance to help make those stop-start journeys around the M25 motorway a bit less painful.

I went for the Multivan Life instead of the Style trim because of the £12,000 price difference. Style is even better equipped, but I can probably live without the extra features, which include park assist and an electronic tailgate along with some decorative interior inserts.

VW Multivan interior detail

With most of my needs covered by the standard kit list, my choice of options was relatively easy. The first one I picked was keyless entry – most of the time I’ll be carrying lots of bags to and from the car so it should make my life considerably easier.

I have also chosen to add Volkswagen Discover Media Nav, which adds 3D navigation across Europe. Plus, I've gone for the rather immodest Silver/Energetic Orange paint job to help me find my Multivan in a crowded car park. The paint option cost £2790, which is a lot, so I'll be interested to see whether the vibrant novelty wears off as soon as it gets dirty, or I still think it’s worth it by the time I hand the keys back.

In terms of spec, then, theoretically I have all the car that I could ask for to balance my filming work and active lifestyle. But it does all come at a price: £53,341, to be precise. That's a serious sum of money, which means the Multivan will need to feel seriously plush to justify that price tag.

eHybrid badge on Multivan rear

Again, the early signs are positive. Climbing up into an interior that's as spacious as an open-plan living room is fantastic, while the excellent all-round visibility makes parking a doddle, and the fact that the large windows let in plenty of light removes any feelings of 'cabin fever' after a long trip.

With me, then, the Multivan's uses will be as varied as a Triathlon, whether tackling huge journeys, functioning as a mobile office or, at the weekends, giving me somewhere plush to change out of my wetsuit. Hopefully, the result will be a car that's as versatile as the campervans I remember. 

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