Volkswagen Multivan Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Sunday 2nd April


What is it like on the inside?

Up front, Volkswagen is very proud of how digital and connected the new Multivan is. Hmmm. It’s at pains to point out the Multivan is replete with screens, featuring the 10.25-inch digital cockpit instruments and the 10-inch touchscreen from the latest Golf, ID.3 and ID.4.

That’s not the selling point Volkswagen thinks it is, given this system is still unintuitive and frustratingly laggy, particularly when first booted up. Unfortunately that’s exactly when an infotainment system needs to be at its best – that’s when you’re setting the nav, a playlist, and in the case of a current VW, adjusting the heater.

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The volume and temperature ‘gutter’ remains unlit, and impossible to use after sunset. The nav screen defaults to grid co-ordinates rather than a map. It surely should have been patched with a software update by now, if not replaced by a competent screen.

Tell me about the practical touches.

Elsewhere, the dashboard is less minimalist, and massively better for it. There’s a grippy wireless charging pad jutting from a cubbyhole that keeps your phone out of sight, and out of temptation. Pop-out cupholders are sited within easy reach. There’s double-decker stowage pockets in both front doors and two glovebox compartments. Slide-out drawers can conceal valuables under the seats.

It’s notably better finished than traditional vans with windows, and touches like metal door handles and the supple leather steering wheel (thankfully free of the Golf GTI’s horrid haptic buttons) ramp up the perceived quality.

Is there enough storage?

You’d think so, but watch out because in some versions the dash-top cubby is replaced by a massive hi-fi speaker. We’d sooner have more space for snacks. Each row gets a couple of USB sockets, but as they’re USB-C you’ll need an adaptor or new cable for charging older (and some new) devices.

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Now, the really practical stuff. By making the gear selector a simple switch on the dash, there’s no pesky gear lever cluttering up the front of the cabin, so in combination with the flat floor it’s easy to move about inside. There’s a centre-console with cupholders and fold out tables which can be slid to and fro or removed altogether. These are useful since the fold-out picnic tables on the back of the seats are flimsier than an election promise, and look like they’ll last about as long.

What can I do with the interior?

The seats can all recline and fold about, or be removed entirely and orientated rearwards so your children can argue face-to-face. They’re 25 per cent lighter than before, but still hardly wieldy. You’ll arrange the feng shui once, and make a mental note to pack lighter next time. For some peculiar reason, the captain’s chairs in the middle row only have armrests on one side. It makes occupants feel unbalanced.

Cleverly, the seat runners are powered and thanks to electrical contacts underneath the chairs, each can be heated. Unlike the front seats, second and third row passengers get an actual clicky button for this, instead of touchscreen hell. The luxury.

If you’re regularly seating seven, it’s worth upgrading to the longer L2, which keeps the same wheelbase but tacks on 200mm of rear overhang. As for boot space, there’s 469 litres in the base version, with up to 3,672 litres if you rip all the seats out and treat it like, well, a van. Go for the longer L2 and that’s a 763-litre boot with over 4,000 litres in Space Shuttle mode.

Out back the upward swinging tailgate is optionally motorised, but bike racks have to be towbar, not door-mounted – the Caravelle and California’s strengthened struts have not been carried over so the door isn’t powerful enough. The towbar is optional. Fit that towbar rack and you can’t open the boot. This catch-22 cost the Multivan three sales in the Top Gear office alone.

Oh, and the Volkswagen internal record for removing all six passenger seats is 12 seconds. Your move.

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