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Volkswagen Caravelle 6.1 (1991 - 2003)

The independent definitive Volkswagen Caravelle video review
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    WIDE OPEN SPACE (some text hidden)

    BY ANDY ENRIGHT

    Introductionword count: 119

    All too often, even full-sized MPVs fall into a familiar trap. Load them with a few people and there's nowhere to put the bags. Some manufacturers such as Renault and Chrysler partly answered the question by introducing long wheelbase 'Grand' versions of their wares but the true solution was staring many customers in the face in the form of the Volkswagen Caravelle. With acres of interior space and a range of great engines, the Caravelle is a model which has subsequently spawned some imitators. The real thing remains in a class of its own however. As a used buy, the rugged Caravelle makes a lot of sense but demand remains strong. Here, we look at the 1994-2003 'T4' version.

    Modelsword count: 18

    Models Covered: Full sized MPV T4 1992- 2003 (2.5TDI diesel 2.5, 2.8 petrol [Sedan , Variant, Limousine, Multivan]

    Historyword count: 198

    How far back do you want to go? It's possible to trace the genesis of the Caravelle right back through the rear engined T3 generation of Volkswagen vans, but to keep things manageable, we'll kick off with the first of the 'modern era' Caravelles, the T4 version, with roots starting in 1992. This model was developed steadily over its lifetime with the latter models being powered by either a 102 or 130bhp 2.5-litre TDI diesel engine if you were practical or 2.5-litre or 2.8-litre VR6 petrol engines if you weren't. Earlier cars can be found with an 88bhp diesel option. A whole host of different body styles were available on both short and long wheelbase chassis. This model was replaced in late 2003 by an all-new T5 model which featured 130 and 174bhp versions of the 2.5-litre TDI Pump-Duse engine, the more powerful version offered with the option of 4motion all-wheel drive. Both diesel engines were also available with Tiptronic automatic gearboxes. Volkswagen also reprised the theme for a rather thirsty petrol engine, in this case a 3.2-litre V6 that was fitted as standard with the Tiptronic 'box but which was curiously not offered with a 4motion variant.

    What You Getword count: 737

    The T4 model offers a dizzying amount of variety but in the passenger area itself, there are between seven and eight seats (depending upon which model you choose) and a ninth is an option. The middle row of seats can be removed at the flick of a couple of levers to create even more luggage room and a few minutes with the spanner will have the back seats out too. At that point, you're back (albeit in carpeted form) to the VW Transporter van on which the Caravelle is based. Even without removing the seats, you'd probably realise that once you climbed behind the wheel. The steering column is more upright than a car's and you sit with your knees bent at right angles. There are an enormous number of derivatives available in seven, eight or nine-seater format, with the choice of Sedan or plusher Variant trim. There's even a luxury Limousine trim option complete with leather, air conditioning, alloy wheels, tinted windows, an electric sunroof and front foglights. Sedan buyers can choose between eight-seat short wheelbase or nine-seat long wheelbase bodystyles. Air conditioning (usually pretty essential in a car with this much glass area) was a pricey option however, so check if the vehicle you're looking at has it. Variant buyers get an even wider choice of five different choices of seating configuration and enjoy air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking and velour upholstery. The Limousine models come only in 7-seat form. If you want an even more versatile Caravelle, there's the home-from-home Multivan. In the spirit of the VW Camper vans that were all the rage in the Sixties and Seventies, this seven-seater comes with offers a foldaway table and seats that convert into a large double bed. There are also a range of 12-volt sockets that can be used to power anything from a kettle to a TV. To give overnighters some privacy, this version comes with snap-on curtain blinds, too. Opt instead for a later shape Caravelle and there's less choice but better kit. The SE trim level is popular but if you're going to buy a Caravelle, it's worth stretching for the Executive models. The Climatronic air-conditioning system works across three zones in the vehicle so the people in the back can enjoy 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. Then there's the crowning glory of the electric sliding side doors and tailgate. These can be opened and closed remotely so you can play with them 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, the chassis platform also forming the basis for Volkswagen's Transporter panel van. On the inside, however, it's up there teetering on the cutting-edge of MPV design in terms of innovation and practicality. The basis of the rear seating area is a rail-mounting system designed so that each chair can be individually manoeuvred or removed for greater flexibility. The seats slide along, and slot in or out of, rails cut into the cabin floor. So you can create the legroom, luggage space and passenger provision that you want. There are trays, storage options and cup-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 various sizes and offers yet more storage beneath, plus the bench seat at the back can transform into a flat sleeping surface - after a bit of pushing and pulling. The cab area up-front is similarly cleverly constructed, to the usual Volkswagen standards. It features a dash mounted gear stick plumbed into the centre console that frees-up floorspace for better walk-through access to the rear. This configuration shaves vital seconds off the time it takes a parent in the passenger seat to reach the back bench and apprehend a wayward child before they can 'make-over' their brother or sister with a felt-tip pen. The driving position and steering wheel are infinitely adjustable. So much so that, from Kylie Minogue to Jonah Lomu, virtually anyone's optimum driving position is attainable - it's just a matter of finding it. There are armrests on each chair too, along with supportive cushioning and fetching two-tone fabric.

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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.

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