What Car? says...
The Volkswagen Multivan is undoubtedly an MPV for the modern age. Think back to a VW ‘van with windows’ of the past and you’ll see that this new Type 7 Multivan is a whole galaxy away from that. Simplicity is long gone, replaced by luxury and usability.
Indeed, the VW Multivan really is the multi-purpose vehicle its MPV categorisation promises. For a start, it's a seven-seater that has two seats up front and five individual rear seats. Better still, the seats can be slid back and forth, reclined and even swivelled as required.
To ensure that everyone’s comfortable, there are separate climate control zones, and you can even specify voice assistance through an Amazon Alexa device.
The VW T7 Multivan is big, so it must have the rudimentary underpinnings of a van, right? Nope. It’s actually based on the lengthened chassis from a VW Golf.
The benefits of that are multiple, including allowing the Multivan to have much of the tech that already appears in the hatchback, plus an extensive range of powertrain options. It also allows Volkswagen to offer the van in two lengths – Standard and Long. They both have the same length between the front and rear wheels, but the Long model is longer behind the rear wheels.
For traditionalists, there’s a 2.0-litre diesel engine available, but there are also 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol motors, and even a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) option. There’s no manual gearbox, though: most models are fitted with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox while the 1.4-litre PHEV version has a six-speed DSG auto.
There are three trim levels available, called Life, Energetic and Style. Even entry-level Life has auto lights and wipers, keyless start, adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera. Energetic adds tri-zone climate control, electrically operated sliding side doors and a Harman Kardon audio system. Style includes heated front seats, VW’s Digital Cockpit Pro system and an Alexa web app.
Of course, the Multivan is still an MPV at heart, and in this respect is replacing the VW Sharan and VW Touran models. However, its sheer size and vast interior means it’s up against a number of van-based competitors such as the Ford Tourneo Custom, the Mercedes V-Class and the Toyota Proace Verso rather than more car-like models such as the Ford Galaxy.
If you’re in the market, we can tell you just how well the Volkswagen Multivan stacks up next to its main rivals, and we'll also tell you which engine will best suit your needs, both motoring and financial.
Don’t forget, we can also help you save thousands of pounds off the list price of most makes and models of car. Simply check out the deals available through our free What Car? New Car Buying pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
For the vast majority of buyers, the most sensible engine option for the Volkswagen Multivan is the 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel. It has more low-down grunt than the petrols and will lug a fully loaded van up to motorway speeds without breaking a sweat. And while its 0-62mph time of 11.6sec isn’t particularly special in the wider MPVs market, it is reasonable compared with similar-sized rivals such as the Toyota Proace Verso.
That said, if you spend a lot of your time in town or the city, the 1.4 eHybrid plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with its electric-only range of just over 30 miles is well worth considering. With 215bhp and the instant assistance you get from an electric motor it also feels every bit as brisk as its 9.0sec acceleration time suggests.
It’s just as swift as our preferred 148bhp 1.5 TSI VW Touran – which is pretty good considering the heft of the Multivan. The downside is its tiny 45-litre petrol tank compared with the 60-litre tank available with the other engine choices. That limits the eHybrid’s range on long trips, and you'll be lucky to get up to motorway speeds on electric power alone.
On paper, the eHybrid is just as quick as the smooth yet swift 201bhp 2.0 TSI petrol engine, although the latter’s thirst for petrol won’t be to everyone's liking. The 134bhp 1.5 TSI petrol will be better in this regard, but its 12.2sec sprint to 62mph suggests you’ll need to thrash it mercilessly when getting up to motorway speeds.
Being tall and quite long, it's not as manoeuvrable as a family hatchback around town, but it's certainly more wieldy than the Ford Tourneo Custom and the Proace Verso.
If you’re coming at the Multivan from a regular car, you'll notice that the steering is slower and requires more turns when, for example, reversing into a parking space. Its accuracy means you quickly adapt, though, and there's a reassuring heft to it at higher speeds, so you'll have confidence in holding your lane on a motorway or negotiating a series of B-road bends.
However, there are limits to how quickly you can go in twists and turns because, being taller and heavier than smaller MPVs such as the Ford Galaxy and the Touran, the Multivan will lean more in corners. Its grip levels, meanwhile, are respectable for this type of vehicle, but the tyres will squeal in protest far sooner than in smaller rivals.
Ride quality is very decent, and the suspension deals with the initial shock of potholes and expansion joints before it gets to you, although there is a hearty thwack sound, something the Galaxy is better at isolating you from. The Multivan isn’t quite as refined as that MPV at 70mph either, although it is far quieter with less wind noise than the Renault Trafic Passenger.
Volkswagen gives you the (expensive) option of adaptive suspension that’ll enable you to tailor the ride to match your driving style and the road you're on. We haven't tested it yet, but we'll update this review when we have.
The eHybrid's brakes are consistent and easy to judge, despite having to incorporate the regenerative braking system that tops up the battery as the car slows down. Sadly, this version isn’t as refined at motorway speeds because its six-speed gearbox buzzes away more at higher revs than the seven-speed 'box you get with the other engines.
The interior layout, fit and finish
When you step up into the Volkswagen Multivan, you'll find that it's easy to settle into a comfortable driving position. Aside from a steering wheel that, in typical van fashion, is angled away from you a touch too much, the seat itself gets height adjustment and standard electric lumbar support.
There’s plenty of under-thigh support to keep you comfortable on long drives, plus you get fold-down arm rests on both sides of the driver’s seat. Style trim is trimmed in a microfleece material that's particularly soft.
With plenty of deep glazing all around, big door mirrors, and a commanding driving position, visibility is excellent. Every version of the Multivan comes with parking sensors front and rear, and there’s a reversing camera as well.
Much like in a van, the dash is made of hard plastics. However, unlike the rhino-style surface of the Toyota Proace Verso, the Multivan has a range of textures to suggest some effort has been made (although the fake wood grain on Style trim might not be to everyone’s taste).
Every Multivan gets a 10in touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Wireless phone-charging remains an option across the range, although there are six USB-C sockets throughout the interior to keep your devices topped up. Style features an upgraded infotainment system with sat-nav and Alexa voice recognition.
The trouble is this infotainment system isn’t as easy to get on with as the older Volkswagen infotainment set-up found in the VW Touran. The row of touch-sensitive controls for both the air-con and volume controls aren’t even illuminated, making it awkward to use at night.
A digital driver instrument cluster is standard, and range-topping Style has a fully configurable display that can be easily operated through buttons on the steering wheel. That makes up for some of the infotainment system’s shortcomings, and also gives the Multivan a far more modern feel than MPVs that are still using analogue dials and tiny LCD displays – the Ford Tourneo Custom and the Proace Verso, for example.
Neither of those rivals is available with the LED headlights you get on the Multivan, either. Style trim upgrades these to matrix LEDs, which automatically adapt the main beam pattern to avoid dazzling other drivers. The Multivan’s standard sound system is decent enough, but you can upgrade it to an 840-watt 13-speaker Harman Kardon set-up at a cost.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Head, leg and shoulder room is in plentiful supply in the front of the Volkswagen Multivan, and you get a number of covered cubbies to hide things in. There are also two glove boxes, and two cupholders that flip down from the centre console.
It's a similar story for rear-seat occupants. The second row is made up of two individual chairs that can slide, recline, or spin round to face the third row in a conference style. A sliding centre console is fitted to a middle rail that runs between all three rows. It features a couple of cup holders, and can be made to pop up to reveal two fold-out tray tables. There are also flip-up trays on the backs of the front seats.
The third row can either be made up of three seats or two individual seats (the six-seat lay-out is a no-cost option). The Multivan is better for rear head room than all car-based MPVs and if the middle row is slid forwards a touch, it beats them for leg room too. All seats in the second and third rows get Isofix mounting points for securing child car seat, and the outer seats get pull-out draws.
Boot space for the standard length Multivan is typical for an MPV with all seats in place – in other words, you’ll struggle to get a bulky pushchair in there. You do get a hard cover that acts as a divider, so you can stack items above the boot floor using the luggage area’s height, rather than its length. For anyone needing more space, there's a Long variant that has a greater rear overhang to extend the boot area – this gives you enough room for, say, a Brompton fold-up bicycle and a couple of carry-on bags.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Volkswagen Multivan is quite pricey compared with the Ford Galaxy, the VW Touran and other regular MPVs although that’s to be expected because you’re paying for an awful lot more metal. It's considerably cheaper than the Mercedes V-Class and is on a par with a similarly specified Toyota Proace Verso with an automatic gearbox.
The flipside of it costing more than most car-based MPVs is that the Multivan is very good at fending off depreciation. It holds its value far better than most rivals and even betters some high-end, limited-run performance cars. That means that over the course of ownership, your running costs will actually be very affordable, and high residuals help to keep monthly PCP finance quotes low (future values form part of the equation).
Anyone looking at this from a company car tax perspective will want to take a look at the eHybrid model, which will cost you far less than every other model in the range. The only plug-in hybrid rival is the Ford Tourneo Custom PHEV, which can’t match the Multivan for CO2 and electric-only range.
The eHybrid has the best fuel economy on paper, but you’ll need to charge up the battery regularly to get anywhere near its 156.9mpg official figure. It's maximum charging speed is just 3.6kWh, so it’ll take around four hours from a dedicated wall charger, or roughly six hours from a three-pin plug.
The 2.0 TDI will do more than 40mpg, while the 1.5 TSI is in the mid-30s. The 2.0 TSI barely breaks 30mpg, and will be the priciest version to run.
Equipment levels are good, with entry-level Life models getting parking aids, adaptive cruise control, a 10in infotainment system, LED headlights, plus 16in alloy wheels (17in for the eHybrid model). We think it’s a bit of an oversight that there are no rear climate vents in this version, meaning you’ll have to specify three-zone climate control. Style gets rear air-con, plus matrix LED headlights, sat-nav, heated front seats and steering wheel, Alexa voice activation, and electric sliding doors and tailgate.
In terms of safety, the Multivan received a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP under the latest testing regime. All the rivals were tested under the old system, or so long ago that the ratings have expired, so drawing comparisons is impossible.
You get lots of safety tech, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), speed and road sign recognition, and lane-keep assistance. Style adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert (to warn of a vehicle crossing your path when backing up).
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Yes, quite capably. The T7 Multivan has a maximum towing weight of 2000kg and an 85% limit of 1805kg. It also has a maximum towball weight of 100kg.
|RRP price range||£45,207 - £62,899|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, hybrid, diesel|
|MPG range across all versions||148.7 - 43.5|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,120 / £4,478|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,240 / £8,956|