Volkswagen Caravelle Review 2021 | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Volkswagen Caravelle

£ 41,748 - £ 58,242
710
Published: 11 Feb 2020
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Yes, it’s effectively a van with windows. But it’s also magnificent

Good stuff

Great at transporting many people long distances in comfort

Bad stuff

Bit pricey, seats can be awkward to move around. Still looks like a van

Overview

What is it?

Technically the Caravelle is a van. A van with lots of seats and some windows, where normally you’d find a vast expanse of nothing and some sheet metal respectively, but a van nonetheless. However to dismiss this new one as little more than a sanitised Volkswagen Transporter is doing the new ‘T6.1’ Caravelle a massive disservice, as you’ll discover if you do the decent thing and carry on reading.

Firstly, you mustn’t confuse the Caravelle with the Transporter Shuttle, which actually is a van with windows and seating for up to nine passengers. You can buy one of those for around £37,000, and if you’re a jobbing minicab driver that’s exactly what you should do. It’s far more difficult to sluice sick out of a Caravelle – they cost from just over £47,000 and are much more richly appointed, though they seat two fewer people.

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Caravelles are what they use on The Apprentice to shuttle contestants about London – business busses, in which important business people can discuss important business things on their way to important business meetings. The seats swivel so you can stare your important business partner in their important business face, there’s a clever sliding/folding table for your top secret important business documents and blinds on the windows to keep prying eyes from observing all the important business within. BUSINESS.

If (important) business isn’t your thing, keep reading anyway, for there are other circumstances in which the Caravelle makes sense. For instance it’s a credible, more practical alternative to a seven-seat SUV like a Land Rover Discovery or Volvo XC90. Cheaper and probably just as if not more economical, if sorely lacking in any kerb-appeal whatsoever.

This era of Caravelle has been around for a while, but this year’s ‘T6.1’ update brings a new, not un-attractive face, a redesigned dashboard incorporating VW’s latest infotainment system and a digital instrument cluster and more assistance and safety systems.

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Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Yes, it’s effectively a van with windows. But it’s also magnificent

We like the VW Caravelle more than we ought to. Yes it’s a van, but it’s a very good one – comfortable and quiet over long distances, easy to manoeuvre around town, relatively economical, with a massive, well-appointed interior. It’s worth thinking about if you need lots of seats for many kids, but don’t care for the stigma associated with big SUVs, or if you’re buying to conduct actual business. Long live the van.

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