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Volkswagen Caravelle 6.1

MINIBUS PLUS (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Volkswagen's improved Caravelle 6.1 might look like a straightforward large People Carrier but it's almost unique in today's market. Jonathan Crouch explains why.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 69

The commercial vehicle origins of the sixth generation Volkswagen Caravelle endow it with more interior space than most large MPVs but it masks its links to the Transporter van very well inside where quality is high, especially in this improved '6.1'-series version. With ample space for seven adults and luggage, strong common-rail diesel engines and a classy feel, there isn't much else that can do what a Caravelle can.

Backgroundword count: 242

What is the Volkswagen Caravelle? It's a good question. Based on the Volkswagen Transporter panel van and sold through Volkswagen Van Centres, one perfectly reasonable assumption would be that it's a van. It's got seven seats, though, so you could also finger it as a minibus. Then you'd clamber inside and see that those seats slide, fold and rotate. Could the Caravelle be an MPV? It could be but with those arm-chair style seats and the superior materials in the range-topping models, it's quite upmarket for the kids. Maybe it's an executive limousine. Let's stop this. What we do know for sure is that the Caravelle has been enhanced in its latest T6 MK6 model guise and it looks just as versatile and difficult to pin down as ever. There are no prizes for guessing that this vehicle has its origins in the van sector. It looks identical to the Volkswagen T6 Transporter, apart from the side windows running its length. Volkswagen offers minibus versions of the Transporter without the plush cabin and adaptable seating system and those vehicles act as the bridge between the highfaluting Caravelle and its more workmanlike relative. It's been around for a while and, from commercial vehicle to mobile office space for the chairman of the board, it's been put to no end of uses but Volkswagen has worked to improve the range in this sixth generation form, with smarter looks, extra equipment and more efficient engines.

Driving Experienceword count: 252

You'll want to know whether it drives like a car-like MPV or a van-like minibus, so let's get that out of the way right up-front. The on-road experience is somewhere between the two, though your reaction might be more positive than that if you're not up to speed with just how dynamically adept the latest generation of large vans really are. This feeling you get at the wheel of this one varies a little of course depending on whether it's fully loaded with passengers, a state in which both ride and composure are much improved. If there's no one in your Caravelle but you, you're probably more likely to notice the vague power steering and the slightly lumpy low-speed ride. And of course the high-sided shape and 2.5-tonne kerb weight don't take particularly kindly to sharp high speed cornering antics. Better of course to settle back and use this vehicle as intended, wafting around on the potent wave of torque delivered by the common rail four cylinder 2.0 TDI diesel engines. There are two on offer here, base models being powered by a single turbo 150PS unit that gets this sizeable chunk of German real estate to 62mph in 12.9s en route to 113mph. Ideally though, you want to opt for the pokier 199PS version of this TDI unit, which offers a touch more pulling power that'd be useful when towing: all Caravelles can tow a braked trailer of up to 2,500kgs. All models now come with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

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Pictures (high res disabled)

Statistics (subset of data only)

Min

Max

CO2 (g/km):

203

232

Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: MPV People Carriers

Performance
70%
Handling
60%
Comfort
60%
Space
90%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
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