Volkswagen Sharan driven

* New version of VW's seven-seat MPV * From £22,500 (estimated) * On sale November...

Volkswagen Sharan driven

Volkswagen's current Sharan was launched so long ago that Jurassic Park was just being released on VHS, so it's hardly surprising that this big MPV feels like a bit of a dinosaur.

Now though, after 15 years on sale, it's finally being replaced: the new Sharan might not look that different at first glance, but only the name and the rear sunblind are carried over unchanged.

Volkswagen has fitted sliding rear doors this time, improving access. What's more, the second and third row seats can now be folded flat when you need extra cargo space, whereas previously they had to be tumbled forward or lifted out.

The new Sharan is also fractionally longer than its predecessor, so adults have plenty of room in all three rows, and unlike many rivals, it doesn't force those in the back to sit with their knees around their ears.

Even when you have all the seats in place, the boot is big enough to swallow a few bags. Alternatively, with the rear five folded away you're left with a long flat space that would make a fine double bed. The only problem with the classy and practical cabin is that the third-row seats are a bit of a fuss to fold because you have to flip over their bases and unfurl an extra piece of carpet.

What it's like to drive

The cars we drove were all fitted with the optional adjustable suspension, and this strikes a fine balance between comfort and control when you leave it in the standard setting. Accurate steering adds to the Sharan's appeal, although some people may wish it weighted up more at speed.

Refinement is also pretty good, aside from a bit of wind noise around the door mirrors and a slight drone from the engines when you're cruising on the motorway.

There will be two turbocharged petrols on offer at launch a 148bhp 1.4- and a 197bhp 2.0-litre. However, the punchy 138bhp and 168bhp 2.0-litre diesels suit the car better, and they're much easier on fuel.

Exact prices are still to be confirmed, but Volkswagen says the Sharan will cost about the same as the equivalent Ford Galaxy. Every version features front and rear electric windows, climate control and seven airbags, while a smooth engine stop-start system that feels anything but prehistoric is standard with all but the 2.0-litre petrol.

What Car? says

Well worth considering if you need space for seven adults