The Multivan is the modern successor to the Caravelle, Volkswagen’s van-like people carrier. It comes in two sizes, and with a choice of petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid petrol power. It’s the plug-in hybrid we’ve been driving, in high-spec Style trim, the Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style DSG.
What are we looking for in the Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style DSG?
With a price tag north of £60,000, the Multivan costs similar money to a large upmarket SUV. Can the VW’s practicality make up for being two-wheel drive and should it be in the discussion for the best caravan tow car?
Towing ability of the Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style DSG
The Multivan is rather overshadowed by the all-electric ID. Buzz, which tends to win awards and garner more column inches.
For caravanners, though, there are many good reasons to prefer the plug-in hybrid tow car to the trendier model. While the electric Buzz is approved to tow 1000kg, the plug-in hybrid Multivan’s maximum towing figure is 1600kg. That makes it a far more practical choice for towing.
We matched the Multivan to a Swift Fairway 580 Grande Platinum Edition, with a MiRO of 1505kg, a 67% match.
The Multivan pulled confidently from a standing start, and immediately seemed at home towing. The petrol engine and 85kW electric motor combined well for strong acceleration, even pulling such a large van. While not as quick as the likes of the BMW X5 45e, the Multivan is strong enough to handle a well-matched tourer.
We wondered if the VW would struggle with a hill start on damp roads, but despite overnight rain, there was no trouble pulling away on the 1-in-10 slope. The electronic parking brake held car and caravan securely and released smoothly. The electric motor did the work initially, before the petrol motor added more urgency. There was no wheelspin or other sign of strain.
The Multivan continued to impress on the motorway, with great stability at speed.
Solo driving the Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style DSG
The VW is easy to live with in everyday driving, although it doesn’t drive with the poise of a Ford S-Max or Galaxy.
Clout a really sharp bump and a shudder is sent through the cabin, but the ride does improve at high speeds. It’s quiet, unless you ask for a burst of acceleration – the engine sounds strained if you work it hard.
The brakes have a regenerative function to add charge to the batteries. In some hybrids, this leads to an inconsistent feel from the brake pedal, but the Multivan’s responses are generally predictable. You do need to give the pedal a firm shove to slow down in a hurry, though.
On country roads, the Multivan handles well enough. It’s not in the least bit sporty, but that’s hardly a flaw in a car designed for carrying lots of people in comfort.
Around town, you are conscious that this is a very big car, at almost 5m long. But as you sit up high with a clear view out, it’s not intimidating. Front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera provide the confidence to squeeze this big MPV into any suitable parking space, although it doesn’t have the black-cab-like turning circle of the ID. Buzz.
Space and practicality
The VW’s cabin is a masterclass in flexible thinking and the clever use of space. It’s one of the best MPVs on sale.
Unusually, the seven seats are arranged in a two-two-three layout. The beauty of having two seats in the middle, rather than three, is that third-row passengers can simply walk into the back. There’s no awkward clambering past tipped seats.
All seats are on runners, so they can slide back and forth to trade legroom between the different rows. With the middle row all the way back, there’s limousine-rivalling legroom for those in seats three and four.
If all seats are in use, moving the middle seats forward a little gives room for adults to be comfortable in all seven seats.
A sliding centre console runs up and down the middle of the cabin like an in-flight refreshment trolley, complete with fold-out tray tables and a couple of cupholders.
Sliding side doors (powered for Style spec cars) are another great feature, making it easy to get in and out and giving plenty of elbow room for fitting child seats in the second and third row of seats, which are all provided with ISOFIX mounting points.
There’s good boot space, at 469 litres with all the seats in place, and this capacity can be extended by removing any of the middle and rear seats.
It’s not perfect. The infotainment screen is fiddly, and the air-con controls are just infuriating. But otherwise, this is a superb MPV, far more practical than an ID. Buzz.
Buying and owning
The Multivan is an expensive MPV. Prices start from £45,207, while this high-spec hybrid costs £61,501. We’ve been testing the standard-length model – the longer version costs just under £1400 more. Then again, a Mercedes-Benz V-Class is much pricier.
Official figures suggest the Multivan eHybrid can return 148.7-156.9mpg, but the true figure will depend on the length of your journeys and how often you recharge. The official all-electric range is just under 30 miles, although low- to mid-20s is more realistic. We saw 29.6mpg while towing, starting with an 80% battery charge.
Resale values are predicted to be strong, which helps to keep the monthly payments manageable if you are leasing or buying through a Personal Contract Plan.
If you have a large family and value space over the four-season benefits of four-wheel drive, the Multivan makes a fine tow car, and an absolutely brilliant MPV.
Or you could try:
- Škoda Kamiq 1.5 TSI 150PS Monte Carlo: this small tow car looks sporty, both inside and out.
- Ford Ranger 2.0 TDCi Wildtrak Double Cab Auto: this pick-up has lots of muscle for towing a heavy caravan.
- Audi A6 Avant 50 TFSI e Quattro S Line Tiptronic: an excellent tow car, the A6 Avant offers strong performance and great economy, so long as you can charge at home.
- Price: £61,501
- What Car? Target Price: £59,682
- Retained value after three years: 62%
- Kerbweight: 2243kg
- 85% of kerbweight: Above max tow
- Gross vehicle weight: 2750kg
- Max towing limit: 1600kg
- Gross train weight: 4350kg
- Towball limit: 100kg
- Towball and electrics: £918
- Boot size: 469-3710 litres
- Payload: 507kg
- Test conditions: Damp
- Engine size: 1390cc
- Power (hp)/rpm: 218@5000-6000rpm
- Torque (lb ft)/rpm: 184@1550-3500rpm
- Official combined economy: 148.7-156.9mpg
- Towing economy: 29.6mpg
- CO2 emissions: 41-43g/km
- 1st/2nd yr car tax: £0/£560
- Insurance group: 33E
- Euro NCAP rating: TBC
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|Engine Size||1390 cc|
|85% KW||Above max tow kg|
|Towball Limit||100 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||1600 kg|
|Torque||184 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||148.7-156.9 mpg|
|Towing MPG||29.6 mpg|