The T7’s done 9k miles and has the scars to prove it. But do we love it regardless?

Why we ran it: To see if the Volkswagen Multivan, the latest ICE VW bus, has all of the charms of its predecessors

Month 4Month 3 - Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Img 3071

Life with a Volkswagen Multivan: Month 4

The T7’s done 9k miles and has the scars to prove it. But do we love it regardless? - 25 May 2023

I can’t remember the last time one of our cars had as eventful a time here as the Volkswagen Multivan. As soon as it arrived with me, it was pilfered for a 2000-mile job around Britain acting as a band’s tour bus. On its return, it was a support vehicle for several far-flung photoshoots. Then it was needed for a full Autocar road test.

At that point, things started to go awry, although mostly through no fault of the Multivan’s own. More on that later. So to the details. The T7 Multivan is the latest in a long line of VW ‘buses’, one of three replacements for the T6 Transporter but the only one with T7 in its name. The others are the electric ID Buzz and a forthcoming Ford-VW commercial vehicle joint venture.

The Multivan isn’t technically based on a commercial vehicle (it’s on VW’s MQB platform, which sits under everything from the Audi A3 to the Skoda Superb), but it’s of van capacities inside and, when it comes to service and repairs, it’s looked after by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles network.

The variant we tested was a plug-in hybrid, badged eHybrid, which pairs a 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with a 114bhp electric motor for a combined 215bhp. There’s a 13kWh battery beneath the floor that gives an official electric-only range of 29 miles, chargeable at 7kW in a few hours from empty.

On start-up, the Multivan always defaults to EV mode, although you can select Hybrid mode manually to more slowly deplete the battery or opt to hold charge in the battery for later if you need it.

Reviewing PHEVs tends to involve a fair few numbers, so in this case: in mixed driving, we only typically saw 15 miles before the engine kicked in from full charge in EV mode (more in urban traffic); in Hybrid mode it returned 55mpg over 45 miles before the battery was flat; and thereafter it would do between 35mpg and 40mpg.

So whether it’s worth choosing a PHEV over a petrol or diesel very much depends on your use case – and as likely the tax implications.

Back to top

Whatever the case, our Multivan was always pleasing to drive. Maybe it’s thanks to the car underpinnings that it was respectfully refined, because it drove smoothly, rode deftly and, while a vehicle of such height, girth and weight (1.9m tall, 1.9m wide and 2243kg, as well as 5.0m long) will never be fun, it was inoffensive, predictable, linear and endearing.

It proved as much in our road test, which is where our hiccups with it started. Before a visit to Millbrook Proving Ground, I heard a stone hit the windscreen but couldn’t see a chip. Then I drove it over the noise-generating surfaces (rumble strips, basically), which must have stressed it, because a few days later on a cold night, the screen developed a crack. A replacement screen, at £620, was only available through a main dealer, because the car was so new, but my local outlet, Cordwallis of Bicester, couldn’t fit it. So I bought it and used Motascreen of Sunbury to fit it for £120.

That resolved, a colleague noticed a dent in the door. I hadn’t been driving the car, and it’s really rare for nobody at Autocar to confess to damaging something. After some sleuthing, we suspect that when it was with several other VWs in the car park, to help a driver identify which key they needed, various key fob buttons were pushed from afar, opening the Multivan’s remote-operating side doors (which I had thought were useful) into some packing crates stacked next to it.

We needed the Multivan on pretty short order to display at the Autocar Awards, where it was to win the Best Large Car gong, so VW volunteered to take it into its workshop to sort. I guess it would have been a couple of hundred pounds at a bodyshop. At the same time, the good people there gave it a routine service.

Then it picked up a puncture. It was too close to the edge of the tread to be repaired, but – shock – the can of goo in the boot held together over a weekend until I could get another Bridgestone Turanza, at £140 fitted.

None of these was the T7’s fault, though one last final curse was: the infotainment touchscreen went black and stayed that way for two days. The car ran and drove, but with no audio, ventilation or many of the active forward-facing or safety sensors. It sprung back into life just as I braced myself for a dealer visit, then stayed working fine right up until its departure.

Back to top

Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not the first, but hopefully the issue is solvable, because this is one of the most useful big cars in existence.

Second Opinion

I had expected the Multivan to be much more van-like to drive than it was, the ride actually being generally settled and the chassis not feeling vague. The plug-in hybrid powertrain was pretty good, too. On the downside, its huge size, while making it suitably practical inside, was unnerving in urban driving and earned me a ticket from some lovely jobsworth at Richmond council.

Kris Culmer

Back to the top

Love it

Seat practicality They are heavy to move but give unrivalled versatility, making the T7 a van, family car or podcast studio. 

Lane-keeping assist One button press on a stalk and one on the wheel is a rapid way to turn this driver-aid off or back on.

Sliding door, clear floor You can park at the end of a row, up against a wall, then walk through it and climb out of any door you like.

Loathe it 

Charging annoyance The port being on the front-right flank and the short cable forced me to park nose-first at home.

Infotainment foibles The ergonomic annoyances are one thing, but losing the climate control when the screen dies really isn't on.

Final mileage: 20,045

Back to the top

A flat tyre deflates the mood - 3 May

Gah! The Multivan’s tyre-pressure monitor sounded on the way to a job last week and it wasn’t a false alarm. A nail too close to the edge for repair. I parked it nail to the ground to try to seal it while I was out on the job, which to my amazement worked. Better still, when I returned, the tube of tyre goo (there’s no spare wheel) also worked, gaining me the day’s grace it took to get a replacement. Changed for £130 – but it would have been less fraught with a spare. 

Back to top

Mileage: 18,165

Back to the top

Life with a Volkswagen Multivan: Month 3

Very lifestyle. Very useful - 19 April

I think they used to call this sort of thing ‘surprise and delight’. On an array of hooks and latches where the luggage cover goes, there are lamps. The nearside one can be removed. Do so and the LEDs that illuminate the cabin turn off and a forward-facing one lights up as it becomes a very small but reasonably powerful torch.

Mileage: 18,635

Back to the top

Oxford's new chargers are great news for our PHEV - 5 April

Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre has row upon row of AC chargers, free to use, on one level. They’re only 7kW but that’s enough to get even a depleted plug-in hybrid out of the city on EV juice alone after a typical visit, which sounds to me more likely to improve air quality than the city’s traffic manoeuvres that end up making congestion worse.  

Mileage: 16,845

Back to the top

Life with a Volkswagen Multivan: Month 2

Rear door beeping is annoying, but safety first... - 22 March

BEEP BEEP BEEP: a piercing noise to hear after parking up in the dead of night. It’s a rather loud alarm to alert you – and the rest of your apartment block – that the Multivan’s rear doors are sliding shut. I just wanted to grab my bag... I understand that it’s a safety feature, but why can’t it be turned down or even off? All it’s missing is “mind the gap”. 

Mileage: 16,660

Back to the top

A cracked windscreen, a dinged door and a £740 bill have rather soured the mood - 15 March

Back to top

I was driving towards Northampton when I heard a loud clack, followed by my instinctive own swear word in response, which indicated that a stone or rock or errant wheel nut had given the Volkswagen Multivan’s windscreen a hefty whack. (And provided a reminder to always wear a full-face helmet in a car without a windscreen.)

But what was this? I peered at it to note no sign of any damage. Crikey, that was a result, I thought, and largely forgot all about it. Then three days later, I got a text from a colleague testing the van saying: “Um, Matt, did you know about this crack in the windscreen?”

Drat. No, I didn’t. I think the object hit the black bit of the screen up by the sensors, which you can’t see from inside and isn’t in easy view from outside. Later, I had been to Millbrook Proving Ground to obtain the performance figures for the Multivan’s road test (8 March). There are hefty rumble-strip-like noise-generating surfaces there, plus humps mid-corner on the test routes to assess bump steer and the like, which probably shook the body about no end, and screens provide an important part of structural rigidity these days. Then the car had been down the motorway and parked in the cold. Presumably, the crack appeared after all that stress.

Img 1399

I don’t know if Autoglass still uses that chippy patronising bloke in its adverts who assures you that sooner or later “that chip will turn into a crack”, but on this occasion the annoying git was right.

Back to top

Anyway, I went online to find someone to fix it. I filled out a form requesting a call back from ‘Autoglass repair, Autoglass replace’, only they couldn’t be bothered to return my call and offer to do either. So I called Motascreen of Sunbury instead. Michael answered and said he would get right on it. Five minutes later, he called back to say that he couldn’t source the screen from his suppliers because the Multivan was such a new car that it was dealer supply only, so they might be my best bet.

I made a couple of calls and it turned out the Multivan, despite being a seven-seater based on a car platform, is looked after by Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle network. Conveniently, the dealer closest to Autocar’s Twickenham office, Cordwallis, also has a dealer close to my home near Bicester. “I will take a replacement at either,” I told them. They went away for a few minutes, called back and said they could supply one (for £620), but not fit it. “That’s okay,” I said, “I know just the bloke.” I called Michael back and he came to the office to fix it for £120.

Back to full health, then. Briefly. I drove the van for a few days and recorded a podcast in it. (My Week In Cars, from your favourite pod provider. Like and subscribe.)

And then… Sigh. I’ve mentioned before that the Multivan has very convenient remote-operated sliding side doors. They’re convenient unless some packing crates are stacked next to them ready to be loaded, there are several Volkswagens in the car park, all their keys are in a box and from a distance someone trying to identify the key for the car they need pushes some random fob buttons until the correct Volkswagen flashes its indicators… At least that’s our working theory for how the Multivan has a small dent in its door at just that height and that nobody noticed it happen.

Anyway, given the Multivan’s upcoming hectic schedule and how busy the dealer is, Volkswagen UK head office kindly offered to sort the ding for us, so as you read, it’s there. It will be back soon, hopefully with less drama.

Love it

Back to top

Always at work

The ability to reverse the seats and use the ’bus as a studio or office is coming in exceptionally handy.

Looking deflated

People keep asking if the tyres are underinflated. They’re not, it’s just that the 55-profile items have a bit of squish to them. 

Mileage: 16,150

Back to the top

The Multivan's table proves useful during a storm - 1 March

How best to make the most of a short time with the Multivan? We picked up some fish and chips, parked down at the beach and unleashed VW’s new multifunction table unit. Handles let the centre console slide back on rails, a button makes its centre rise and then you can fold out two tables. We had a cosy dinner amid a storm, the heater, radio and roof lights happy to stay on with the petrol engine off. 

Mileage: 15,291

Back to the top

Life with a Volkswagen Multivan: Month 1

Better get comfy if you’re going on a TVR stakeout - 15 February

From one large empty volume to another. I was in the VW Multivan and in the area of the once-proposed TVR factory in Ebbw Vale so dropped by to see how it looked.

Last time I did, two years ago, it was definitely supposed to be the new factory and appeared abandoned. Now TVR isn’t necessarily the new occupier (on the gate they say they’ve “no idea” who it’ll be and the company said it’s still deciding where to go), but it looks spick and span.

And so back into the Multivan’s cavernous interior. Not factory-sized, but it’s big enough for me not to see a half-finished milky cocoa left behind by a colleague and discovered only via its whiff some time later.

Back to top

Airing the van out is just one practical use for being able to leave the sliding doors open, then closing them remotely via the fob. Electric doors add weight and in normal use don’t save time, but I appreciate the practicalities on a family wagon like this: you can open the doors up, then fill both your hands and load the car. Ditto hauling kit inside, then closing it up from your house.

Img 1270 copy

Mostly, though, I’ve been in the Multivan on my own. I like the comfort: the driver’s seat has two folding armrests and the Harman Kardon audio system is among the best I’ve heard. I prefer to listen to music at home without the 60-odd dBA of superfluous noise that any car will give you (at various music-conflicting frequencies), but techies from Burmester tell me the interior environment matters: two-seat coupés, say, are worse than bigger interiors with more litres and seats to them. I wonder if the carpet/ glass/space combo of this Multivan gives it a particular advantage.

The Multivan has a car platform, but while it’s mostly car-like to drive, there are a few rattles and resonances that belie what’s behind that chilled driving position. I think it’s inevitable, given there are five seats and a unit and all of them can be removed or slid – at some point their mechanisms are going to chime in alongside an engine frequency. That it does this and has vast orifices yet doesn’t feel like a commercial vehicle is a success.

Back to top

The ride and noise levels improve if you load it heavily, although on 235/55 R17 Bridgestone Turanzas, there’s always generous compliance to it that makes it a very relaxing drive for however long a trip you want to make it.

Love it

High-beam headlights

I’m not usually a fan of automatic high-beam headlights, but these work very well. No oncoming traffic has flashed in protest.

Mist opportunity 

Windscreen demist buttons are on a haptic panel out of your eyeline and really poor to use on the move.

Mileage: 14,590

Back to the top

Storage galore in Volkswagen's ICE van - 8 February

Such luxury: the Multivan has not one but two in-door pockets, small above and large below. The bottom one is a stretch when driving, but the top is perfectly positioned to keep goodies, whose wrappers can be transferred to a bag below. Since the death of ash trays, too few cars have rubbish bins, I think

Mileage: 13,139

Back to the top

If all you want to do is just hang out, nothing else really quite compares - 1 February

To Wales and the kind of job the VW Multivan was made for: support wagon to a videographer, photographer and a couple of journalists looking to escape the sub-zero temperatures they had endured in some off-road buggies.

As is often the way this time of year, when it’s light late and dark early, this was a two-day job. At yawn o’clock on day one, I was on a deadline to pick up Jack, our excellent young videographer, who I knew would be standing outside waiting with a similarly casual attitude to thick coats as most teenagers. Charm one, then: the VW has a heated windscreen, so I wasn’t made late by scraping ice off it.

Back to top

Then it was down to south-west Wales and back via Banbury and Poole and some toing and froing up in the mountains. We had no trouble fitting all the video kit in the rear, including some stills photography and luggage extras, but it was a job made easier by the fact I’d refitted all the seats from a previous job. It means less space overall, but you can hide items out of view behind the rear set and under the luggage cover, and you can wedge other things or buckle bags/helmets/etc in place to stop them sliding around.

There comes a point on a job when we have to decide whose car we use to get car-to-car tracking pictures, then 15 minutes of emptying it, arranging the rear seats and harnessing somebody in. In this case, it was either Luc Lacey’s Citroën C5 Aircross or the Multivan. Both have a soft ride.

When somebody realises you can flip a VW back seat to face rearwards, belt up like normal and leave the other seats in place securing luggage, the Multivan makes a case for being one of the easiest tracking cars I’ve known. It will be wanted on every job.

That it’s a plug-in hybrid can be useful on travels. You can hold charge in the high-voltage battery while driving and when parked use it to keep the interior warm. It’s handy if you’re going for seaside chips on a chilly evening but less crucial here, because if you’re dressed for being outside for hours, you don’t want to get too toasty and sweaty inside. Every time you start the car, it defaults to EV mode, so you have to remember to manually switch to hybrid and tell it to retain some juice or risk it going flat. But still, it’s an incredibly useful wagon.


Seat release

One toggle pull releases the seats and you can slide or rotate them between locating rails with ease.


Slow starter

Waiting for the infotainment to wake up when you just want to flick on a heated seat when you set off.

Back to top

Mileage: 13,340

Back to the top

Welcoming the Multivan to the fleet - 18 January 2023

Van-style seven-seater arrives with much to prove to us, VW fans and in-house rivalshere’s potential for confusion here. This is the Volkswagen Multivan, which you could consider to be the latest in the long line of VW vans stretching back to the original Type 2.

The generations that followed have been dubbed Transporter in T3, T4 and so on forms, right up to the recent T6. Each base Transporter generation has been used for a van and a camper and, more recently, a big comfortable passenger car too.

The T6 has just given way to this, the new T7 Multivan. But this time there’s more because there’s also the electric ID Buzz, plus an upcoming ‘proper’ van based on a joint venture with the Ford Transit, another year away.

So one van will become three. And while VW calls the Multivan the T7, will that necessarily mean it becomes considered by VW aficionados as the ‘proper’ seventh-generation van, the one for living the van life?

The Multivan is the most car-like of the new breed. It’s based on a VW passenger car architecture and comes with seven seats as standard, with two forward-facing ones in the middle row and three in the very back. That’s what’s fitted here, but there’s a seven-seat Conference seat package (the middle row faces backwards) and a six-seat package (only two in the back and they get armrests), but whichever way, each individual seat can slide or be removed, so it’s a flexible interior.

Vw multivan front interior

Back to top

I left it to Max Edleston, our photographer, to find out just how flexible. As soon as the T7 arrived, I handed it to him to use as a tour bus for some musician friends. For 10 days, he was groupie, roadie, driver, technician, gopher and more as he took them nearly 2000 miles around the country.

The Multivan is 5m long, 1.94m wide and 1.91m tall and they say there’s 3672 litres of space behind the front seats. What Max says this translates to is (deep breath): four guitars, three amps, one keyboard, one full drum kit, three pedal boards, one synth pad, three large merchandise boxes (Abbie Ozard, by the way), guitar stand, keyboard stand, five overnight suitcases and two camera bags, plus three seats left in place and occupied by three tired musicians.

Then there’s the two people up front. Max thinks that’s rather good going, and since its return, I’ve taken all the seats out to help some friends move and I’m inclined to agree. With a sliding door each side and a big swing-up tailgate, access is great too.

Those chairs – all five of which are in my shed as I speak, along with a sliding storage box – are heavy, mind, at around 20kg each. My guess is a family will work out what arrangement suits them best, then largely leave them alone.

The Multivan starts at £43,720 for a Life variant with a standard petrol engine but it’s £50k by the time you’ve fitted it with the 215bhp plug-in hybrid with an electric motor and 1.4 turbo petrol, with a six-speed dual-clutch auto and front drive.

That’s what also sits in the front of this particular upmarket Style derivative, which is £59,545 before options. A generous helping of those means this is a £66,000 passenger car, which – with a swanky hi-fi that’s among the best sounds on sale and a panoramic glass roof – is about as expensive as you can make a Multivan. So rivals are not an old Transit with some benches in the back but expensive SUVs and estates with part-time third-row seats.

Vw multivan screen

Back to top

It looks the part, I’m told. It certainly turns T6 owners’ heads. And in the front cabin, it feels as well assembled as most VWs, right down to the frustrating infotainment screen; though there are real buttons on the steering wheel, and it’s two quick clicks – indicator stalk and wheel button – to turn off the lane keep assist.

That done, it steers smoothly, and the drivetrain is slick. With a charged battery, I’m getting over 20 miles (officially, it’ll do 31 on the WLTP test cycle) in EV mode before it’s depleted, but I’m on fast roads as soon as I leave home. I’d do better in town. Because there’s always some regeneration and oomph left in the battery to electrically assist the engine under acceleration, it doesn’t feel overwhelmed in this 2240kg wagon. As an unplugged hybrid, it’ll return 35mpg.

If you’re plugging it in for the typical daily commute, you might use no fuel on normal days. And there’s the regular 2.0 petrol (31.4mpg) or a 2.0 diesel (42.8mpg) if your life doesn’t work like that.

Whatever the driving mode, it’s quiet, and with nothing in it there’s space for the hi-fi’s sounds to develop nicely. It is a little van-like boomy when empty and rides more smoothly and quietly when it’s full of kit, but either way it’s a pleasingly refined and easy machine to drive. The definitive T7? We’ll see, but I’m enjoying finding out.

Second Opinion

VW launched the Multivan and Buzz at roughly the same time, and the retro-futuristic EV holds the limelight. Shame. In many ways, the Multivan is the more impressive proposition: more handsome, more flexible interior and much more obviously car-like in its dynamic behaviour

Felix Page

Back to the top

Volkswagen Multivan 1.4 eHybrid 218PS Style specification

Prices: List price new £59,454 List price now £59,545 Price as tested £66,619

Back to top

Options: Panoramic sunroof £1500, Discover Pro nav and infotainment £294, Harman Kardon hi-fi £1080, electric seats £1500, two-tone paint £2700


Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 148.7-156.9mpg Fuel tank 45 litres Test average 37.9mpg Test best 55.4mpg Test worst 34.8mpg Real-world range 15 miles (electric), 399 miles (total)

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 9.0sec Top speed 119mph Engine 4 cyls in line, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor

Max power 215bhp Max torque 295lb ft Transmission 7-spd dual-clutch automatic, FWD Boot capacity 469-3672 litres Wheels 7.5jx17in Tyres 235/55 R17, Bridgestone Turanza Kerb weight 2243kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £685 pcm CO2 41-43g/km Service costs £275 Other costs £140 (tyre), £740 (windscreen) Fuel costs £1487 (petrol), £104 (electricity) Running costs inc fuel £2746 Cost per mile 32 pence (including no-fault repairs), 22p (fuel and routine servicing) Faults Broken infotainment

Back to the top


Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Pietro Cavolonero 31 January 2023

"Van-style seven-seater arrives with much to prove to us, VW fans and in-house rivals"

IT IS A VAN, not "van-style"and it is north of £60k, madness.......

ianp55 31 January 2023

I thought that £1500 was excessive for a sunroof which at this price point should be standard,but the £2700 for two tone paint is extortionate

Citytiger 31 January 2023

Many manufacturers stopped making vans/MPVs because SUVs where what everyone wanted, so why all of a sudden are the motoring press claiming this van to be so amazing, it really isnt, its still a very over priced van, if you want a 7 seat bus/van why not buy a considerably cheaper and better to drive Ford S-Max or Galaxy

xxxx 31 January 2023

'considerably cheaper Galaxy' 41k opposed to Multivan at 43.7k, not really that considerable