Stockholm, Sweden. It was a brief sojourn in the Venice of the North, but I still got a chance to get down to business in the back seat of this big van, because that’s where the action happens.
Well we went for a quick jaunt in the countryside and it seemed a fitting way to test out the Multivan Business, though a night out on the town may be better suited (not just because of the standard LED headlights!) - just so long as someone else is driving...
Well, given Volkswagen aptly describes the van looking “as if milled from a solid block” it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. However, the people-mover versions of the Transporter range have been around for about 60 years, and this new model has been nipped, tucked and botoxed to a big extent.
There are new stylised elements including a revised grille, new headlights and sharper lines inside and out. It’s a taut looking thing, even if it is big at just over five metres long.
The interior is the biggest talking point with this Business model. In the rear row where you’d usually find a three-seat bench there are instead two individual chairs.
And, it's not just the fine Nappa leather-trimmed recliner seats with electric adjustment that makes for a special environment. There’s also a pair of amazing head restraints that are pillow-like – and for good reason, as the seats recline enough for some snoozing. They are controlled via dedicated switches and there are also seat heaters up the back, as well as three-zone climate control keeping things comfortable.
It’s a classy feeling cabin, if not as luxurious as, say, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It is about as classy as that German brand’s new flagship Valente van, though, especially thanks to the real wood trim highlights, not to mention the Dynaudio sound system that has been designed specifically for the Multivan’s interior. We pumped some crunk beats, and we'd be eager to put it in a sound-off against the Valente's Burmester setup.
There are six seats (two up front; two in the second row – captain’s chairs that can be faced forwards or backwards; and the two in the rear), and the back also features a refrigerator between the seats, along with cup holders and storage.
There’s even a car phone – yes, it may seem very 1990s, but you can use your smartphone to connect to it via Bluetooth. Then you can use the handset between the seats to keep your business dealings private and confidential.
The fact you sit right at the back of the van, over the top of the rear axle, means the ride isn’t quite as plush as it could be – even with the car’s adaptive suspension set in Comfort mode. It’s downright uncomfortable in Sport mode, which translates a lot of the rough surface bumps to your backside.
It’s not overly stable feeling through corners when you’re at the back, either – maybe it was just my driver.
This thing? Yes, totally. If it weren’t used for business as a chauffeur car, it could make quite a cool school bus.
Maybe. It’s powered by a new 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine producing 150kW of power and 450Nm of torque, which should prove to be quite robust. According to the brand it has been engineered for “300,000 kilometres to be the rule, not the exception” – so it should fill the role of a runabout quite well.
However, many commercial vehicle brands offer warranties that take big kilometres into account – Renault, for instance, offers a five-year/200,000km program for its commercial models – but Volkswagen hasn’t confirmed any such plans, and nor has there been any confirmation on service intervals, which for some other vans can be as lengthy as every 30,000km (or 12 months, whichever occurs first).
The current Volkswagen Multivan range has a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and service intervals every 12 months or 15,000km with capped-price coverage for the first six years.
I would have thought that having dedicated USB ports in the back row would be a given, but they are none. Instead, there’s a 12-volt outlet mounted near one of the bottle holders.
Also, other luxury-focused limousine-like cars give the control of the media system to those in the rear, but there’s no such interface for those in the back of this bus. It would be good to have that as an option.
That depends – Volkswagen has not yet confirmed if the new-generation Multivan Business will be sold in Australia or not. For me, it could very literally be a one-night stand if they don’t bring it… I’d suspect the company will, but possibly at a big price.
If it is confirmed and it is priced well enough, then it could be a sweet deal. But one thing’s for sure – that Mercedes-Benz Valente is likely to garner plenty of attention in the luxury van segment.
I personally have no need for six seats (unless I’m going somewhere with friends, and I think they’d absolutely love this van because it feels special to be a passenger in), nor do I have any plans to start up a hire car company.
But if I were expecting to start a (big) family, or if it was my job to drive people to the airport or business meetings, this would be on my list as an alternative to some of the less practical sedans that currently fill that role.