They say never change a winning team, and so far, the Multivan has been one of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles' (VWN) bestsellers on their winning team. But a "changing of the guard" was urgently called for after the hesitant refreshes of recent years. As the still current model basically dates back to the change from the T4 to the T5, which hit the roads back in 2003. The T6 appeared in 2015, but was more of a comprehensive model update, and the T6.1 also received little more than new paintwork and improved infotainment systems two years ago.
The T7 sticks to the tried and tested, but opens up new possibilities. Like its Golf brother, the T7 is based on the MQB, the company's Modular Transverse Toolkit. This allows hybridisation; as a plug-in version, the Multivan is supposed to become a part-time electric vehicle and be able to cover the (fiscally) required distance of 50 kilometres with the help of the electric motor on the rear axle and a 14 kWh lithium battery. However, it will not be purely electric, but VWN will offer the ID.Buzz as a member of the electric family from 2022.
The Multivan, too, becomes a specialist for private users and, at best, commercial shuttle services. For the hard life on the construction site or in agriculture, the various versions of the T6.1 must continue to slave away, and campers have no choice either. The California version will also remain on the market on the basis of the current VW Bus. This is probably why sale expectations are subdued. It is said that 25,000 units of the T7 are planned annually.
The design of the new model is striking.
A striking feature is the light strip at the front, which serves as a daytime running light and connects the two narrow headlights. The windscreen is flatter, as is the bonnet, which has also become longer. After all, radar antennas and larger batteries now have to fit under it. Compared to the T6.1, the new Multivan is 3.7 centimetres wider and almost seven centimetres longer. The wheelbase has even been extended by 12.4 centimetres. This allows it to be used for the standard body (4.97 metres) and also for the stretched version (5.13 metres). On board there are up to seven seats and a luggage compartment of at least 470 litres. If the seats are removed, the load volume increases to 4053 litres. For easier removal, the seats, which slide on guide rails, have been slimmed down and now weigh only 23 kilograms.
The dashboard is based on the digitalised operation of the passenger car series. Most of the switches and dials have disappeared, replaced by monitors with touch-sensitive screens. The instrumentation is reproduced by a 10.25-inch screen, while the monitor above the centre console measures ten inches diagonally and can be used to control almost all other functions. The handbrake lever has also disappeared; an electric parking brake makes it superfluous and thus facilitates the way past the front seats to the rear. Two sliding doors with electric opening are standard for the passenger compartment. Clever is the idea of a multitool, a kind of stool that can slide in the back and serve as a table, storage space or cool box.
When it is launched in autumn, the Multivan can be ordered with four-cylinder turbo petrol engines (136 and 204 hp/ 100 and 150 kW) as well as with a 150 hp (110 kW) diesel. Thanks to improved aerodynamics (Cd 0.30) and a variety of optimisations, consumption has been reduced by about one litre for all powertrains. Consumption will be even lower for the plug-in hybrid, whose system output is stated at 218 hp (160 kW). All powertrains will be combined with dual-clutch transmissions with six or seven gears. With a slight time delay, VWN still plans to offer a second, more powerful two-litre turbo diesel. (ampnet/mk)