Volkswagen has revealed pricing and specification details for the new Multivan, the successor to the Caravelle that marks one of the most significant reinventions for the company's largest MPV in its 71-year history.
Prices start from £43,160, with three initial specification levels available: Life, Style and, for the model's launch only, Energetic.
All specifications can be selected with a short- or long-wheelbase body and with the choice of a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, or the opton of a plug-in hybrid.
Entry-level Life models are equipped with 16in alloy wheels, seven seats, two sliding doors and a 10.0in infotainment display. Also included is Volkswagen’s digital cockpit, front assist and lane assist.
Style models start from £58,130 and gain 17in wheels, IQ.Light LED matrix headlights, the Premium Discover navigation infotainment system, electric sliding doors and tailgate, and park assist.
The limited-run Energetic specification, an exclusive launch edition, is available with a 1.4-litre turbocharged eHybrid powertrain and premium features such as a Harman Kardon sound system, 18in wheels, a panoramic sunroof and privacy glass.
Volkswagen’s order books will open in January 2022, with the first deliveries expected towards the end of March.
Volkswagen has ditched the Caravelle name to reflect the MPV's comprehensive reinvention and the fact that it no longer shares its underpinnings with the Transporter commercial van. It is effectively now a stand-alone model, with the commercially focused Transporter model soon to be replaced by a Ford-built successor, twinned with the Transit.
That switch paves the way for a raft of technological, stylistic and ergonomic enhancements, while also allowing the MPV to adopt its first-ever plug-in hybrid powertrain.
The Multivan eHybrid pairs a 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor on the front axle for a combined output of 215bhp, while a 13kWh battery under the floor allows for electric-only running on "short urban trips". Volkswagen has suggested a maximum EV range of around 31 miles.
Also available are 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines. A 201bhp diesel will join the line-up later next year.
While the PHEV gets its own six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) gearbox, the conventional petrol variants use a familiar eight-speed automatic.
Along with the mechanical revisions, the seven-seater has been completely redesigned, with stylistic nods to the 1985 T3-generation Transporter among its defining features.
In typical fashion, it's available in a horizontally split two-tone livery, but a full-width grille and sharp LED lights set it clearly apart from the outgoing Caravelle.
As standard, the Multivan measures 1941mm wide, 4973mm long and 1903mm tall (a 5173mm-long extended-wheelbase option is also available), making it slightly larger overall than the T6-generation model. Its aerodynamics are claimed to result in improved efficiency, too.
Volkswagen says the Multivan is "more flexible and spacious than ever" inside, highlighting a new modular seating system and multifunction table. The five rear seats can be removed entirely, while the second row can be spun around to create a social seating arrangement.
Crucially, Volkswagen says, the absence of a centre console - made possible by the removal of the conventional handbrake and gear selector – has allowed for a flat floor throughout the entire cabin, giving the base version 469 litres of boot space, which extends to 1844 litres with the rearmost seats removed.
The driver's area has also been subject to radical revisions to bring the Multivan more closely in line with Volkswagen's latest cars. A new multifunction steering wheel, a 10.25in digital instrument display and a 10.0in infotainment touchscreen are standard features, while optional upgrades include a head-up display and a wireless smartphone charger.
Also included are a range of advanced safety features, including road sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking.
The Multivan is Volkswagen's first commercial vehicle to get the new IQ.Drive system, which uses the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance functions to enable what it calls "semi-autonomous driving" on long-distance journeys.