Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is keen to boost its sales in the increasingly competitive conversion market, with a growing array of pre-bodied Engineered To Go models available, along with the more specialised Engineered For You conversion scheme.
The firm also launched a converter recognition programme at this year’s CV Show, providing customers with more of a one-stop-shop for converted vehicles.
However while conversions become increasingly complex and tailored to the individual customer, basic Dropsides, Tippers and Luton vans remain the most readily available options. This Engineered To Go Crafter Dropside CR3 5 single cab can be purchased from stock, directly from a VW Van Centre, providing a single invoice and a single point of contact for service, repair and warranty work.
The dropside body is supplied by respected body builder Ingimex and comes with a one-piece 15mm thick birch non-slip base. The front end features a bolted frame with a 400kg capacity gantry behind the cab to hold ladders and longer loads, while at the rear, the corner pillars can be removed if required. Seamless aluminium sides make it easy to paint or apply customer liveries.
On this medium wheelbase chassis the Dropside tips the scales at 1,794kg. That leaves an impressive 1,706kg of available payload, which should be enough for most users. The Dropside is also available on a longer wheelbase with either a single or double cab, but both options will lower the available payload within the overall 3.5 tonne gross weight.
It’s no secret that Crafter will be replaced at the end of this year with an all-new model, splitting VW from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with which it has shared much of its construction for the last few years. Until that time the Dropside is available with a choice of 109hp and 136hp versions of VW’s Euro 5 2.0-litre engine.
Not only does the 136hp engine boast more torque, at 340Nm against 300Nm for the 109hp motor, it also delivers the better fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, at 31mpg and 239g/km respectively. It is no doubt the better to drive too, despite low gearing that makes for rapid acceleration but limited cruising ability, though few companies will buy a Dropside as a long distance delivery truck.
The rear-driven truck comes as standard with ABS, EBA, EBD, load adjustable ESP and an electronic differential lock. It feels totally secure and the high ridingposition provides an excellent view, forward at least. As we discovered when we tried a Crafter Tipper, the body is a bit wider than the VW’s cab and the thick front pillars can limit the view down the side of the vehicle. Slightly longer mirror arms would solve the problem, while a reversing camera would mak e life easier when the time comes to park.
Inside the cab there’s a Bluetooth connection as standard, with audio streaming, an SD card slot and Aux and USB inputs. Electric windows, plus heated and electrically adjusted mirrors are also standard.
What we think
The Crafter Dropside is a sturdy working truck that feels like it will last forever. VW looks set to build upon recent success in the conversion market.
MODEL Volkswagen Crafter CR35 Dropside MWB
BASIC PRICE £28,470 ENGINE 4-cyl/1,968 cc
FUEL INJECTION Common-rail POWER 135hp @ 3,500rpm
TORQUE 340Nm @ 1,575-2,250rpm Weights (kg) GVW 3,500
KERB WEIGHT 1,794
MAX TRAILER WEIGHT 2,000 Dimensions (mm)
LOAD SPACE LENGTH 3,477
LOAD SPACE WIDTH 2,026
LOAD SPACE HEIGHT 400 LOAD VOLUME 7.0m3
Combined CO2/MPG 239g/km/31mpg
Oil Change 2 yr/25,000 miles
Warranty 3 yr/unlimited miles