The family styling from the Golf neatly tricks the brain into thinking the Sharan is smaller
When the new Sharan goes on sale in November, there will be a choice of four engines
Both diesels are impressively refined on the motorway
This Volkswagen will not be the choice of the committed driver
The Sharan is not the kind of vehicle that you’d want to hustle around
The steering, too, is a touch vague at the straight-ahead on the motorway
The dashboard is standard VW, which means excellent fit and finish with high-quality materials
Inside, there’s plenty of room for seven adults
The Volkswagen Sharan is a refined, flexible and spacious seven-seat MPV, albeit one that is more expensive than its Seat Alhambra sister car
What is it?
As you approach the new Volkswagen Sharan, the MPV hides its size well. The family styling from the Golf and Polo neatly tricks the brain into thinking that the Sharan is smaller and, therefore, more nimble than its rivals.
The reason for this is that although the Sharan is 220mm longer, at 4854mm, it’s also 92mm wider and 12mm lower than the previous car, which gives it a well proportioned if slightly dull look.
The increase in size, however, doesn’t mean an increase in weight. The car is now an average of 30kg lighter across the range, thanks to improved seat design and lighter engines.
What’s it like?
When the new Sharan goes on sale in November, there will be a choice of four engines – two petrol and two diesel. The bigger sellers will be the diesels – 2.0-litre units with 138bhp and 168bhp outputs. Although the 168bhp unit is usefully quicker, it’s less refined, with marginally more noise and vibration being evident from the driver’s seat. However, both are impressively refined on the motorway.
The two available petrol engines are the 148bhp 1.4 TSI and the 197bhp 2.0 TSI, which have already featured in a multitude of other cars from the Volkswagen Group stable.
The 197bhp model was unavailable to test at the launch, but a drive in the 1.4 TSI revealed a lack of torque lower down the rev range – not ideal in a large MPV. It also required frequent gearchanging to keep the revs above 4000rpm when you wanted to make progress or overtake.
All available test cars were fitted with the optional DCC adaptive chassis control, which is expected to cost about £650 in the UK. DCC individually adjusts the dampers at each wheel to give better body control yet improves ride comfort. The system works well and also offers drivers the option to override the Normal setting with a Sport or Comfort mode.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that this Volkswagen will not be the choice of the committed driver. That crown still remains with the Ford Galaxy.
The Sharan is not the kind of vehicle that you’d want to hustle around. It very quickly begins to understeer if you’re too fast into a bend. The steering, too, is a touch vague at the straight-ahead on the motorway, although it weights up well in the bends.
Inside, there’s plenty of room for seven adults, with access to the rear seats now provided by sliding doors (with optional electric operation). Only the tallest passengers seated in the third row will take issue with the available headroom. A six-seat configuration is available too.
Boot space isn’t brilliant in seven-seat mode, at 300 litres, but then no car in this class can carry seven passengers and all of their luggage. In five-seat configuration the boot space rises to 711 litres, and then to a serious 2297 litres if you fold both rear rows of seats and load to the roof. Still not enough? Then the back of the front passenger seat can be folded flat, allowing nearly three metres of load length.
All rear seats leave a flat load floor when folded. The rear row can be folded and repositioned with one hand, but the centre row requires a two-handed action to reposition the seats after they’ve been folded.
Up front, the dashboard is standard VW, which means excellent fit and finish with high-quality materials that are soft-touch in all the right locations.
Should I buy one?
It may not be more nimble than its rivals, but buyers will love the high-quality feel of the new Sharan and its ease of use. That will ensure it is a serious contender in the seven-seat MPV market.
Volkswagen Sharan 2.0 TDI 140 PS SE
Price: £22,500; Top speed: 120 mph; 0-62 mph: 10.9 secs; Economy: 51.3 mpg (combined); CO2: 143 g/km; Kerbweight: 1740 kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1968 cc, turbodiesel; Power: 138bhp at 4,200 rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1750–2500 rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual