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Road Test: Volkswagen Crafter

Volkswagen completes Crafter line-up with rear and all-wheel drive models, says Dan Gilkes.

SECTOR Large van   LOAD VOLUME 9.3m3-18.4m3   POWER 102-177hp   GROSS WEIGHT 3.0-5.0 tonnes

Volkswagen Crafter
Volkswagen Crafter

As promised at this year’s CV Show, when Volkswagen introduced front-wheel drive versions of the all-new Crafter van, the company has completed its large van line-up with the launch of rear and all-wheel drive models. Some vans won’t be available to order until next year, but the completed range offers a wide variety of vans and chassis cabs to UK buyers.

Front wheel drive remains the preserve of 3.0 and 3.5-tonne vans, along with 3.5-tonne chassis cabs. Rear-wheel drive will be offered at 3.5-tonnes and 5.0-tonnes, in both vans and chassis cabs, while 4Motion will only be offered at 3.5-tonnes GVW.

Rear-drive 3.5-tonne vans will have single rear wheels while the 5.0-tonne models will get twin rear wheels. A super single rear tyre will be available on the heavier van towards the end of next year. On average, a rear-wheel drive van is around 100kg heavier than a similarly-powered front-drive model, while the 4Motion vehicles loses 150kg to its front-drive cousins.

A 122hp version of VW’s 2.0-litre TDI engine joins the line-up, in rear-drive models only, alongside 140hp and 177hp motors. Front-wheel drive models come with the 102hp,140hp and 177hp engine, while all-wheel drive Crafters will be offered with the 140hp and 177hp engines.

Six-speed manual gearboxes are standard across the range, with the eight-speed automatic transmission offered as an option on 140hp and 177hp front-drivers, 177hp rear-drive models and the 177hp version of the 4Motion LCVs. Though new to some sectors of the market, VW is predicting that 55% of buyers will go for the front-drive model, with 30% taking rear-drive and 15% 4Motion. The £1,650 automatic transmission is expected to account for 10-15% of UK customers.

As with front-drive models, there are three van lengths on offer, along with three chassis cab versions. The vans range from 9.3m3 to 18.4m3 load volume on the longest L5 body, while chassis cabs offer body lengths of up to 7.2m. The vans are offered in VW’s traditional Startline, Trendline and Highline trim levels, while chassis cabs, in both single and double cab format, will only be available in Startline trim. This could change however, if there is customer demand for a higher specification cab on conversions.

As all Crafters have electro-mechanical steering, the vans can be offered with a host of electronic driver assistance systems more commonly seen in the car market. Standard equipment includes City Emergency Braking, Driver Alert, Crosswind Assist on panel vans, Adaptive Cruise Control on higher trim models and Post Collision Braking.

All four engines deliver plenty of power and both the slick six-speed manual and the excellent eight-speed automatic transmission are easy to use.

The cab is well laid out and well built, with very low noise levels even at motorway speeds. There are plenty of in-cab options too, from satellite navigation to climate control, but even the most basic vans have plenty of storage, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a full height bulkhead.

What we think
The addition of rear and all-wheel drive models, with the introduction of the automatic transmission, lifts Volkswagen’s big van to a class-leading position.


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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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