Cars VW unveils seven-seat T7 Multivan to tempt families out of big SUVs
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Volkswagen has lifted the covers on its latest model - the T7 Multivan - and it's aimed at tempting large families out of their seven-seat SUVs.
The T7 Multivan, which will cost from around £50,000, is the replacement for the T6 Caravelle and shifts to VW's more car-focused platform, rather than being based on a commercial van as its predecessors have been.
The transition to the German maker's extended MQB platform - the same one underpinning the Volkswagen Tiguan, Seat Tarraco and Skoda Kodiaq SUVs - means it will also be available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
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And that gives an electric-only driving range of about 30 miles - which should be more than enough to complete the there-and-back daily school run.
The T7 Multivan is expected in showrooms later this year.
While the outgoing Caravelle MPV was based on the Transporter van, the forthcoming VW-badged commercial vehicle will be developed and produced in partnership with Ford's Transit.
It means this new T7 Multivan is a new model from the ground up that will allow the MPV to offer customers the latest technology, including the first ever plug-in hybrid powertrain in a VW bus.
The Multivan eHybrid pairs a 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine with an 114bhp electric motor located on the front axle, which is powered by a 13kWh battery pack that stored under the floor.
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It will use a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.
The combined maximum power output is 215bhp, while the battery - when fully charged - will offer zero-emission 'short urban trips' of around 31 miles before the petrol engine needs to engage.
It will also be sold at launch with the option of a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with eight-speed gearboxes.
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A diesel option is likely to be added to the range in 2022, despite the majority shift away from vehicles with oil-burning engines.
VW hopes the reinvention of its biggest MPV will attract family-car customers who have in recent years switched attention to.
With MPV sales dwindling, manufacturers have offered additional seating capacity in their largest sport utility vehicles, with the likes of the Nissan X-Trail (from £27,235), Skoda Kodiaq (from £27,955) and Peugeot 5008 (£29,590) aimed at buyers needing extra space for kids.
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However, in terms of comparable price, the new VW will be a notch up and therefore aiming to steal sales from the Audi Q7 (£58,570) BMW X5 (£60,010), Land Rover Discovery (£53,150) and Volvo XC90 (£56,135).
While there are plenty of changes under the T7 Multivan's skin, it has stuck with tradition, offering a horizontally split two-tone livery - a recognisable element from the outgoing Caravelle.
In terms of looks, the Multivan shares many design features with VW's latest range of electric cars, like the ID.3 and ID.4. That includes the new headlight arrangement and honeycomb grille.
As standard, the new model measures in at 1,941mm wide, 4,973mm long and 1,903mm high, broadly in line with the existing Caravelle.
There will also be a long-wheel base version with a 5,173mm-long chassis, with much of the additional space coming in the wheelbase to provide more cabin room.
To make the MPV more flexible, it also has a new modular seating system, doing away with the three-seater bench in the second row and instead having independent chairs.
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Each of these five rears seats can be removed entirely, while the second row be rotated 180 degrees to face the third-row passengers for a more social layout.
The seats are also 25 per cent lighter than before, helping to keep the overall bulk of the Multivan as low as possible.
There's also a multi-function table with cupholders than can collapse into an armrest and be moved up and down the cabin from the first to the third row of seats.
Behind the rear row is a 469-litre boot (in the standard wheel-base version), which extends to 1,844 litres with the rearmost seats removed.
Up front, the van-like centre console has been omitted entirely, with a conventional manual handbrake replaced with an electronic parking brake operated from a switch low in the dashboard unit. The automatic gear selector has also been moved higher in the dash, sitting alongside a 10.0-inch standard infotainment touchscreen.
Drivers will also get a new multifunction steering wheel and 10.25in digital instrument display and optional upgrades include a head-up display and a wireless smartphone charger.
VW has also packed the T7 Multivan with the latest array of advanced safety features, including road sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking.
It will also debut Volkswagen IQ.Drive system in one of its larger MPV models, which uses the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance functions to enable what it calls 'semi-autonomous driving' on long-distance journeys.
Prices are expected to be announced later this year and start from about £50,000.
Best MPVs to buy in 2021 .
These are the best MPVs you can buy this year, including the Ford S-Max, Citroen Berlingo and Volkswagen Touran.As our list of the best MPVs reveals, you shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the people carrier. Whether you’re after a five or seven-seater, you’ll find that an MPV will slot into family life like a new dog – and it won’t leave a mess on your living room floor or demand a walk on a wet Sunday morning.