Volkswagen Multivan long-term test

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?...

Multivan packed for a triathlon

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 10,194 List price £49,345 Target Price £48,618 Price as tested £53,341 Test economy 42.2mpg Official economy 156.9mpg  Dealer value now £46,651 Private Value now £41,468 Running Costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £714.67 

13 June 2023 – Moving out and moving on

Over the past few months, my Volkswagen Multivan has sailed through just about every test I've put its way. Whether it was taking six people and all of their luggage to the Lake District on holiday, acting as transportation for four-legged friends or being loaded up with bikes, the Multivan has proven itself to be a supremely practical car.

And yet, one challenge remained. You see, the night before I was due to hand the keys back, it faced its greatest challenge yet: helping a friend-in-need to move house.

VW Multivan full of luggage

The first step was transforming the seven-seat Multivan people carrier into more of a van. Removing all five rear seats was the work of about five minutes, requiring a simple tug on a red lever and then a yank to liberate them from their rails.

Each seat weighed about 25kg, so I’m glad I only had to stagger a couple of steps backwards to place them in my garage overnight rather than carry them up a few flights of stairs – although they’re apparently 25% lighter than the seats in the old Volkswagen Caravelle. That's the march of progress for you.

Mercifully, the friend I was helping wasn’t taking any heavy duty furniture with them. So, in the end, despite reservations beforehand, everything they owned fitted inside the Multivan in one go, and the only stressful part of the experience was a 16-mile journey from Harrow to Brixton which, thanks to London traffic, took more than an hour. During that trip, I reflected on my time with the Multivan. 

VW Multivan passing through a width restrictor

The driver’s seat really is like a throne. You sit so high up, like you would in a Range Rover luxury SUV, and the view out is brilliant. This was especially helpful when squeezing through width-restrictors, which did always make me nervous about ruining the £2790 paint job. The seats are supportive, too, even on long journeys, and the perfectly placed and nicely cushioned armrest gave this MPV a bit of luxury .

The elephant in the room, of course, is that no Multivan is cheap, and my plug-in hybrid version certainly isn't. But then, none of the Multivan’s main rivals are cheap, either. At least for your £50,000-plus you won’t be left wanting for space.

Looking back, I think I made the right call by going for the entry-level but well-equipped Life trim, and have no regrets over foregoing the £12,000 jump to Style.

VW Multivan interior back seats

Rear air-con, electric sliding rear doors and heated front seats and a heated steering would’ve been nice, but not essential. And I’m pleased I opted for the standard length as opposed to the “long overhang” version, which would’ve been another £1350 and more than a foot longer. That extra length would have made parking in a big city like London more of a stressful experience than it needed to be.

Nothing is perfect, though, and the fuel economy of my car remained a sticking point throughout my time with it. I've done my best to keep the Multivan's battery topped up, but have gotten nowhere near the official figure of 156.9mpg. It was more like 32mpg when the battery was flat, and 44mpg when full.

When I did have a fully charged battery, I was able to get around 22 miles of pure electric power. It was enough for my city-based commute, if still some way short of the official 31-mile range.

Loading bike into VW Multivan

A surprising thing I’ll miss is the friendly waving from other Volkswagen MPV owners when passing. Driving the Multivan gives a surprising feeling of camaraderie that I can't imagine Ford Tourneo Custom or Mercedes V-Class drivers have.

What got me so excited about running the Multivan in the first place was its ability to act as a support vehicle for my triathlons. And as I've noted in previous reports, it has been perfect for those situations. But is the Multivan itself a triathlete? For that, it would need to be a master of three different disciplines. Instead, I think it's a world-class, gold-medal winning specialist in one: load-lugging. But it would probably make the final in a few other individual disciplines.

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