Volkswagen Caravelle V6 Van Review
Facts At A Glance
PRICE: £28,668 OTR +VAT
PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph - 10.5 seconds/max speed 127mph
TOWING CAPACITY: 2.5tons
VolkswagenCaravelle V6 Van - FASHION WAGON
CommercialVehicles And Petrol Engines Don’t Tend To Mix All That Well ButVolkswagen’s Caravelle Van-Based People Carrier And Its 3.2-litre V6Engine May Be An Exception.
Volkswagen’sCaravelle isn’t your typical commercial vehicle. In its Plusher forms,it’s better equipped and more capacious than most full-size MPVs. It isbased on the Transporter van, however, and is purchased extensively bytravel companies, taxi operators and other businesses which need to getclients from A to B in a certain degree of comfort. For this kind ofusage, the performance and refinement of a V6 petrol powerplant hasobvious benefits - even if it falls someway shy of the dieselalternatives in terms of fuel economy.
TheCaravelle that we examine here has just such an engine and comesequipped for the purpose of bringing a touch of class to the peoplecarrying genre.
Volkswagenclass the Caravelle as a commercial vehicle for marketing purposes andthat’s good enough for us but after a look around the Range-topping V6derivative, which is offered exclusively in Executive trim, youwouldn’t put it down as any sort of van. Think of this Caravelle ashigh-end executive transport and you’ll be close enough to the realityof it.
Poweris supplied by a 3.2-litre V6 engine that generates 232bhp at a high6,200rpm. You’ll rarely find yourself venturing into the upper echelonsof the rev-Range, though, because the 315Nm maximum torque is availablejust below 3,000rpm. There’s strong acceleration available from lowrevs but under normal driving conditions, the V6 never comes across asanything but relaxed and unflustered despite the bulk of the vehicleit’s propelling around. If you do put the hammer down, the 6-speedTiptronic gearbox and the engine will contrive to get you to 60mph in10.5s. There’s a 127mph top speed to be explored where conditions allowtoo, marking the Caravelle V6 out as a vehicle with an unexpected turnof pace. What’s more predictable is the average fuel economy figure of21.9mpg and CO2 emissions that measure in at 310g/km. The Caravelle V6is not a cheap vehicle to run but you must weigh this up against thebenefits in performance given by its petrol engine.
"TheV6 engine adds to the classy feel of the vehicle with its smooth powerdelivery and strong acceleration"
TheRange-topping diesel unit in the Caravelle develops 173bhp and is alittle less than £800 cheaper than the V6. On the road it’s noticeablyless refined with a harsher engine note that will prove more intrusivefor passengers on long trips. The diesel is marginally more torqueythan the petrol at low revs but the V6 unit’s better top-end means itgets to 60mph around 2 seconds quicker. You’ll get approximately 35mpgfrom the oil-burner which is impressive but its 216g/km CO2 emissionsstill place it in the top tax bracket. The diesel option gives most ofthe petrol’s performance with markedly better economy but the type ofcustomer who buys a £30,000 people carrier may well value thesmoothness of the V6 enough to tip the balance in its favour. TheCaravelle’s arch-rival, the Mercedes Viano, is fractionally quicker andreturns almost identical fuel economy figures in V6 form. It’s moreexpensive and less practical but its handling is a little better thanksto rear-wheel-drive underpinnings.
TheExecutive trim level that’s mated to the Caravelle’s V6 engine lives upto its billing in some style. The Climatronic air-conditioning systemworks across three zones in the vehicle so the people in the back canenjoy a separate temperature to those in the middle and the front.There is also cruise control, 17" alloy wheels, leather upholstery,sports suspension and heated washer jets for the windscreen. Thenthere’s the crowning glory of the electric sliding side doors andtailgate. These can be opened and closed remotely so you can play withthem from your office window and surprise passers-by in the car park.
Externally,the Caravelle looks like the van with windows that it actually is, thechassis platform also forming the basis for Volkswagen’s Transporterpanel van. On the inside, however, it’s up there teetering on thecutting-edge of MPV design in terms of innovation and practicality. Thebasis of the rear seating area is a rail-mounting system designed sothat each chair can be individually manoeuvred or removed for greaterflexibility. The seats slide along, and slot in or out of, rails cutinto the cabin floor. So you can create the legroom, luggage space andpassenger provision that you want. There are trays, storage options andcup-holders in abundance, including draws beneath each seat and a‘refuse bucket’ (bin, to you and me) incorporated into the rear bench.There’s also a freestanding table attachment that folds out to varioussizes and offers yet more storage beneath, Plus the bench seat at theback can transform into a flat sleeping surface - after a bit ofpushing and pulling.
Thecab area up-front is similarly cleverly constructed, to the usualVolkswagen standards. It features a dash mounted gear stick plumbedinto the centre console that frees-up floorspace for betterwalk-through access to the rear. This configuration shaves vitalseconds off the time it takes a parent in the passenger seat to reachthe back bench and apprehend a wayward child before they can‘make-over’ their brother or sister with a felt-tip pen. The drivingposition and steering wheel are infinitely adjustable. So much so that,from Kylie Minogue to Jonah Lomu, virtually anyone’s optimum drivingposition is attainable – it’s just a matter of finding it. There arearmrests on each chair too, along with supportive cushioning andfetching two-tone fabric.
TheVolkswagen Caravelle is one of the most practical multi-person vehicleson the market. It’s more spacious than the current crop of conventionalMPVs and more luxurious than any minibus. The V6 engine adds to theclassy feel of the vehicle with its smooth power delivery and strongacceleration. The interior feels well built and flexible, althoughspace for manoeuvring the middle seats and the table is limited and youmay find yourself getting in a bit of a pickle. Overall, it’s a strongpackage that feels suitably opulent for transporting tired executivesor demanding clients who should find little cause for complaint.