Volkswagen Multivan long-term test: report 4

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?...

VW Multivan mobile office

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

Why it’s here To see whether Volkswagen has 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 else in its class

Mileage 9394 List price £49,345 Target Price £48,618 Price as tested £53,341 Test economy 44.9mpg Official economy 156.9mpg

19 May 2023 – The long way round

I’ve so far established that the VW Multivan is an amazing load-lugger (whether that load is camera equipment or dogs). But with a big motorway journey ahead of me and six family members vying for a lift to the Lake District, it was time to put this MPV to the test.

The first part of our journey involved getting out of town, where the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Multivan ran smoothly on electric power for as long as it could – or until I put my foot down, at which point the switch over to petrol power was slick.

Multivan with 6 passengers

Once I got to a motorway, the Multivan was a little less impressive.

My main gripe is that the ride can feel unsettled. And with seat trays, a sliding centre console and other moveable fittings in the interior, you can be stuck with a rattle if you forget to fully latch something in place before you set off. The road noise is louder than you'd expect in an MPV at this price point too.

Considering it’s based on the same underpinnings as some current VW cars rather than an actual van model, I was hoping for a little more of a refined cruising experience. But, let’s be real: this isn’t a luxury car – it’s a practicality-first people carrier. And where it counts, this car really excels.

Each passenger has a great view out and acres of space to enjoy, the sliding rear doors make it super easy to jump in and out of the car even in tight parking spaces, and folding down or removing seats altogether mean the car can truly adapt to my needs.

VW Multivan interior load bay

If I had the chance to spec up my car again, there's one option I’d consider adding to make life a little more luxurious for passengers in the back. Those would be sliding rear windows, which for £780 seemed like an unnecessary extra when I was speccing this car up in winter and measuring up all the camera gear and bikes I’d need to fit in the back.

As is almost inevitable when you're running a seven-seater I’ve ended up doing quite a lot of trips with people in the back, and I feel bad for them not getting the same ventilation I enjoy up front.

On to fuel consumption, though, and the Multivan started well on this trip, delivering 199mpg from its fully charged battery and fully loaded fuel tank. However, 18 miles later – when the battery was flat – the long-distance drawbacks of plug-in hybrid life started to become apparent.

Multivan displays 199mpg

This big heavy car hauling around a big, heavy (and empty) battery with its relatively small 1.4-litre petrol engine sent my fuel economy plummeting faster than the stereo volume when one of my passengers didn't agree with my music choices. Fortunately, the end result wasn't quite as catastrophic for my wallet as I'd feared – after two-and-a-half hours on the road covering 120 miles, I averaged 44.9mpg.

Now, that admittedly is hilariously short of the official fuel economy figure of 156.9mpg – something I would only achieve if I kept the battery topped up all the time – but, considering this is a huge car with every seat occupied, covering a lot of motorway miles, I must admit I was impressed.

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