- this is volkswagen's new multivan for the europe market, and it's finished in a sweet two-tone paint job.
- the multivan is built on vw's mqb architecture and is available with a choice of two gas engines, a diesel, or a plug-in-hybrid powertrain.
- there are seven seats, and the five in the rear can be configured into different layouts.
we often envy europeans and their sports cars and hot hatches that legislative hurdles of the auto industry deny us. but this is a different vehicle we'd love the chance to buy, but almost certainly won't get: volkswagen's stylish new multivan.
replacing the caravelle van, which is based on the europe-market transporter, the new model has made the transition to a car platform and will exclusively be available as a passenger-carrying vehicle. the new multivan sits on the familiar mqb architecture that underpins pretty much all of the volkswagen group's small and mid-size offerings. vw says that there won't be a commercial version, and all multivans will have a full set of windows. (the work-grade t6 transporter will be sold alongside it in europe for several more years, before being replaced by a van on the same platform as the next ford transit.)
the multivan looks great in these first images. we've always been suckers for a two-tone volkswagen bus. two lengths will be available, with the regular 195.8 inches long and the extended version 203.7 inches, which is longer than most european parking spaces. to compare with u.s.-market vehicles, it fits between the ford transit work van, which starts at 217.8 inches in length, and the transit connect, the longest version of which measures 190.0 inches.
seven seats will come standard, with the ability to move the five seats in back into different configurations or remove them entirely. the multivan's second row can also be turned 180 degrees to create conference-style seating. there is a central fold-up table that can be moved along a floor track between the different rows. this makes use of the increased space at the front of the passenger compartment from the lack of any floor console or gearshifter.
engine options will include an entry-level 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and a 2.0-liter tsi with 201 horsepower. europeans will also get the chance to buy it with a 148-hp 2.0-liter diesel engine. the range-topping powertrain will be a plug-in hybrid combining a 1.4-liter engine and electric motor powered by a 13.0-kwh lithium-ion battery under the van’s floor. this will give a peak system output of 215 horsepower and will allow local trips under pure electric power. dsg transmissions will be standard on all versions: a six-speed for the hybrid and seven-speed for the other engines.
the switch to the mqb platform and volkswagen’s latest electronic architecture means the new multivan will offer much more technology than any of its predecessors, with conventional buttons largely abolished from the center console. a 10.3-inch digital instrument display and a 10.0-inch central touchscreen will be standard, and the multivan will also get volkswagen’s iq.drive system, which includes radar cruise control with active lane keeping.
prices haven’t been released yet, but the new multivan won't be cheap. the current generation caravelle starts at the equivalent of $44,500 in germany, and you can bet volkswagen will charge a supplement for the many extra features of the swish new model. u.s. sales look unlikely, although we will be able to take consolation with the retro-looking electric id.buzz microbus. eventually.