What's the used Volkswagen Sharan MPV like?
If you need seven seats and a large boot you now have more choice than ever. For years, the MPV ruled the roost in this class, but in recent years the SUV has come along to steal some of its thunder.
Many of those SUVs are now seven seaters, but it’s still true that if you want the ultimate space, the ability to use all the seats and still have room left over for luggage, or for the dog, you still need an MPV, and none of them are as capacious and generally as good to own as this Volkswagen Sharan.
The original Sharan shared its underpinnings with the Seat Alhambra and the Ford Galaxy, but this second-generation model is only related to the Seat, its VW Group cousin. Both MPVs are virtually identical, which means sharp styling, huge interiors and reasonably good driving manners.
There’s also a good range of efficient engines on offer, with one 1.4-litre petrol available as a manual or automatic, or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel available in two power outputs, and again, both with either a manual or automatic gearbox.
Then there are four different trim choices, although only the top three can be paired with the pokier diesel engine. Even the base S trim comes pretty well equipped, though, with electric windows, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, and automatic wipers as standard on the outside, while inside there is tri-zone climate control, Volkswagen's Composition infotainment system complete with a 6.5in touchscreen display, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
On the road all the engine options are pretty smooth and refined, although it’s the diesels that offer more low-down punch and better fuel economy. They can all be driven with reasonable verve, too, even if, perhaps understandably, they won’t inspire keener drivers. The best balance is probably to be found in the 148bhp 2.0 TDI version, because it has the pull large families need but also emits the least CO2 and uses the least fuel.
The more powerful 182bhp unit is usefully quicker, but it’s less refined around town, with marginally more noise and vibration being evident from the driver’s seat. Both, however, are impressively refined on the motorway.
That said, for the best refinement, you’ll want the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol. It’s by far the quietest engine under load and remains smooth no matter how hard you work it. Both the diesels by contrast sound gruff at high revs, especially when cold, and send more vibrations back though the pedals and steering wheel.
No MPV can claim to be outright fun to drive, but the Sharan does a good job in the handling department. It’s not as sharp as the Ford Galaxy or sportier Seat Alhambra, but there’s enough weight and precision in the VW’s steering for it to feel eager and body control in tight bends is very good.
DCC adaptive chassis control is also available as an option. It individually adjusts the dampers at each wheel to give better body control yet improves ride comfort. The system works well and also offers drivers the option to override the Normal setting with a Sport or Comfort mode.
But it’s the huge interior and its quality that’s the main selling point for the Sharan, and neat touches like the sliding rear doors (electrically operated on some trims) that makes getting in and out of the car in tight spaces so much easier. The two rearmost seats can happily accommodate tall adults, and there’s a reasonably sized boot even with all the seats up, and a positively huge one with the two rear rows of seats down.