That’s correct, this isn’t the usual type of test car that is provided to us at CAR but that by no means suggests that the Volkswagen Crafter is not an important product. The LCV segment in our local market is in fact very relevant.
The issue with providing thoughtful feedback on the product however, is that, based on my conversations, business owners are only interested in one aspect more than anything else; how much will this cost my business?
And right off the bat, without any options added, The Volkswagen Crafter range starts at R629 200 before any options are ticked, of which quite a bit are available. The configurator for the large LCV is indeed comprehensive with options such as a fixed tow bar, raised roof, dual sliding doors, 270 degree rear opening doors, a heavy-duty suspension and a second battery all being available to consumers, among many other features. As standard though, it is quite a bare package. The model we have on test boasts a tag of R723 300.
Definitely the most interesting test car I’ve ever had. The VW Crafter Panel van is big but surprisingly easy and a bit fun to drive. R738 200 gets you a 2,0 TDI with 103 kW. This is sent the 4Motion system via a 6spd manual. If you have big things to move, yeah this will work.🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/42LypPaXVK
— Nikesh Kooverjee (@NikeshKooverjee) October 6, 2021
While it is a commercial van, it certainly boasts quite a presence on the road among fellow commuters. In total, the van measures 5 986 mm long, 2 355 mm tall and 2 040 mm wide with a wheelbase of 3 640 mm. The proportions are also not what you’d call in line with modern cars as the front and rear overhangs measure 1 000 mm and 1 346 mm respectively. Couple these measurements in with the steel wheels and reflective tape, it really does feel like you are off to build a society as you approach it.
The Volkswagen Crafter is even bigger than you might realise when you hike up the series of steps that leads to the cockpit. Once this hurdle is completed, you are greeted by a modern cabin by commercial vehicle standards. Traditional Volkswagen equipment such as the analogue gauge cluster, button-free steering wheel, polyurethane gear shifter and mechanical handbrake comes as a refresher of how far cabin trimmings and technology has evolved over the last few years.
The cabin is further accentuated by an array of storage compartments, fabric-upholstered seats, manual air conditioning controls and an aftermarket radio face with USB and Bluetooth functionalities. If you’re going to be a driver or passenger operating one of these for an extended distance, you’re sure to feel comfortable here.
Most importantly, thanks to the wide opening rear doors and easy-to-operate side sliding door, accessing the load bay is an easy task thanks to a low load height. The doors are also supported by a solid locking mechanism when opened to ensure that they aren’t forced closed in the event of a windy day. As to be expected, engine noise is quite noticeable from within but wind noise and vibration is well suppressed thanks to a well-insulated cabin.
Powered by the brand’s 2,0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder mill, the Volkswagen Crafter delivers 103 kW and 340 N.m of torque to all four-wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. For moving loads, this drivetrain is not only effective but also easy to operate. Thanks to the slick controls, issues such as exhaustion and fatigue are less likely to be an issue compared to older vans.
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Dare I say, the Volkswagen Crafter is a rather entertaining van to pilot. The soft-sprung suspension when unladen gives the ride a bouncy but planted feel. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system, the torqey engine delivers its power fluidly to the tarmac with very little loss of traction under heavy acceleration. At its limited top speed of 100 km/h, the van also feels impressively planted and stable.
If you need to move a large quantity of goods with capability and comfort, then you can be sure that the Volkswagen Crafter will suit your needs. As standard, the bus is offered with a five-year/120 000 km service plan and warranty but this can be upgraded up to a 10-year/400 000 km maintenance plan for R104 125.
Price: R723 300
Engine: 2,0-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Power: 103 kW
Torque: 340 N.m
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top Speed: 100 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 9,1 L/100 km
CO2: 238 g/km
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Service Plan: Five-year/120 000 km