TEST: Volkswagen Multivan eHybrid – electrified folk carrier – Test drives

Premium The latest generation VW Multivan takes the biggest development step in the model’s history at the same time as it becomes a plug-in hybrid. Can it be an alternative to SUV for families who want seven seats and the opportunity to drive on electricity?

WHAT IS NEW? Pretty much everything. The new Multivan (internal code T7) has in fact abandoned the base plate for transport vehicles and is now instead building on the VW Group’s MQB platform, which is for passenger cars. It is also the only one among its sibling models Transporter and Caravelle and others to take that step. The others will continue to build on transport vehicle technology.

The Multivan is therefore clearly moving towards the passenger car segment and shares a lot of basic building blocks with, among others, the VW Passat. The rechargeable driveline is, for example, the same as in the best-selling station wagon. This means a petrol engine of 150 horsepower, an electric ditto of 116 and a total system power of 218 horses.

The lithium-ion battery has a usable capacity of 10.4 kWh, which according to the WLTP driving cycle is enough for up to 49 kilometers of electric range. The car is equipped with a heat pump as standard to make the heating of the passenger compartment more energy efficient. It’s a big volume. On cold days, it is therefore smartest to preheat the car while it is charging before driving away.

Filling the battery takes at best three hours and forty minutes if you use a charging box. The multivan can handle a single phase of 3.6 kW at most.

Much more passenger car feeling behind the wheel nowadays.

The battery is located on the floor under the front seats, which has the advantages that it does not affect the interior spaces or load volume, and that it lowers the center of gravity.

One effect of the model being based on a passenger car platform is that it has many more and more technically advanced features and safety functions. Multivan is now more connected with the latest infotainment system, it has digital instrument cluster as standard and there is a head up display. The driver environment takes after the car siblings as many buttons are touch-sensitive touch variants, and the large gear lever is replaced with a small rocker and P button.

But perhaps the most important thing is that the car has a more comprehensive assistance system. Auto brakes that respond to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists are standard, as is active lane keeping. Travel Assist is available as an option and includes adaptive cruise control and Lane Assist as the car steers itself.

Flexible interior that can be supplemented with a large panoramic roof.

HOW IS IT TO DRIVE? The experience behind the wheel is spontaneously clearly more car-like compared to before. The driveline does really well in the Multivan. The car now feels as alert in the reactions as any ordinary car, thanks in part to the electric motor with its direct response.

Another thing that helps is that Multivan has become about 200 kg lighter compared to before. The new chassis uses aluminum components instead of steel and it has lighter rims and seats. Together with better aerodynamics, it has resulted in almost eight grams less CO2 per kilometer on average.

The electric motor itself is strong enough (330 Nm in torque) for the car to feel nimble even when you are only running on electricity and we think that you can then more than keep up at a normal pace. The top speed of electricity is 140 km / h.

A positive effect of the model being based on the MQB platform is that both driving characteristics and comfort have improved than before.

The charging door is located in front of the front door on the right side. The Multivan is able to receive single-phase charging of a maximum of 3.6 kW.

The multivan is now moving more confidently and controlled on the road and the chassis reacts faster to what you do behind the wheel. The service weight, the format and the high seating position naturally make it still feel like a large car, but the driver experience is still that it has shrunk and become tighter, more direct and harmonious. You can simply drive the Multivan just like any other family station wagon.

The passenger car chassis has also had a positive effect on comfort. The suspension swallows bumps nicely with good control and compliance, away are the valleys from the wheel suspensions and small shots that the car could previously take with the rear trailer over larger bumps when driving without a load.

NERD FACTS. In Sweden, the Multivan will be sold as a plug-in hybrid and as a diesel, the latter will not be launched until around the summer of 2022. The maximum towing weight for the plug-in hybrid is a respectable 1,600 kg, while the diesel can tow 2,000.

Inside, there are new chairs that have become up to 25 percent lighter compared to before. It not only helps to keep the service weight down, but also makes it easier to refurnish the cabin and to remove the seats completely.

A nice detail is that Multivan is now for the first time available with a large panoramic roof as an option.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? If you need seven seats and want the opportunity to drive on electricity (or just get a cheaper vehicle tax), Multivan should definitely be on your shopping list. There are not many alternatives that can handle that combination. In the same price range we find Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento. If you want more cars to choose from, you can add just over SEK 300,000 to include the Ford Explorer and Volvo XC90.

Compared to the SUVs, the Multivan has some major advantages: the cabin is more spacious, you can fit much more luggage with seven people in the car and the interior is far much more flexible.

The comfort, the road appearance and the available features have taken clear steps forward. From that perspective, there is really no reason to choose an SUV over the Multivan. The only real reasons are about attitude and image, as well as possibly four-wheel drive. But Multivan is the sensible and rational choice for those who need an electrified freight carrier.

PHOTO: VW and Marcus Berggren

Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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