Except for the Type 2 Kombi, most Filipinos might not be familiar with Volkswagen’s vans. The Caravelle was sold here more than two decades ago, but we bet that only a few readers would really know about that. Things are obviously different in Europe where VW vans are quite popular. And the German brand has recently unveiled the newest version of its all-purpose vehicle, the Multivan.
First off, the design. Volkswagen has long since ditched the cab-over look starting from the T4, but the automaker says that some of the DNA of its older vans has trickled down to the T7 Multivan. The front fascia, for example, has hints of the T3 Transporter’s face. The two-tone paint job is reminiscent of the funky liveries often sported by the T1 and the T2. Other than that, the T7’s styling screams modern Volkswagen, complete with amenities like all-around LED lighting, cameras and sensors for the car’s safety systems, and wheels that you can spec up to 19 inches.
The interior is where the money is. There’s a lightweight modular seating system (with a table), allowing you to rearrange the cabin layout to your liking. All rear seats can be removed to increase the already large 469L of cargo space behind the third row to a massive 1,844L (1,850L if you get the optional panoramic glass roof). The second-row chairs can be turned 180° so you can use the Multivan like a conference room.
Speaking of the table, you can slide it between any of the rows and use it as a center console. It’s also removable and height-adjustable, and it has three cupholders and a storage compartment. This is all possible because of the completely flat floor, made possible by the Multivan’s use of an electronic handbrake and shift-by-wire technology for the DSG transmission.
In line with other modern cars, the Multivan gets two displays: a 10.25-inch screen for the driver, and a 10-inch infotainment display. It also gets two USB-C ports for connectivity and optional wireless charging. And it’ll sound just as good, too, with an optional audio system developed by Harman Kardon in which 14 speakers generate a total output of 840W.
But the changes to the T7 are more than skin-deep. The Multivan runs on an extended version of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform instead of the Transporter base that older models utilized. This allows the car to utilize a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the first time. Dubbed eHybrid, it uses a combination of a 148hp 1.4-liter TSI engine and a 114hp electric motor. Mated to a bespoke six-speed DSG, the combined system output is 215hp. The 13kWh battery is housed underneath the floor, which lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity.
If you still prefer petrol power, there are two four-cylinder TSI engines to choose from: a 134hp 1.5-liter unit and a 201hp 2.0-liter mill. A turbodiesel with 147hp is slated to join the lineup in the future. All of these will come with a seven-speed DSG as standard. Pricing and availability haven’t been announced, but the Multivan is something we hope to see on our shores.