Here's how the big VW Multivan LWB handled a big French roadtrip
Recently, we swapped our e-hybrid Multivan for the 'long-wheelbase' version, now with VW's familiar 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. The timing couldn't have been better. With this extended version, my wife and I had even more room to cram in all those souvenirs during my 1,800-mile road trip down to the French Alps and back. Oh, and for the curious minds wondering about the price of elongating your ride by a whopping 20cm, well, that'll be £1,398 – roughly the cost of using a French autoroute.
Our journey began with a stop in the charming northern city of Amiens, where a wedding awaited us. Now, you'd think that with this longer Multivan, I'd be able to flaunt its people-moving capabilities by shuttling guests to the reception with ease. But there was a twist. Despite this being the longer Multivan, it was equipped with the optional 6-seater package, resulting in the loss of the rear centre seat. It's a bit like ordering an extra-large pizza and discovering it's missing a slice. However, none of this actually mattered as I had selfishly removed the two centre-row seats before departing the UK, giving our personal belongings the space they deserve. Sorry everyone.
Next on our adventure was Bourges – a picturesque city slap bang in the middle of France. Despite the Multivan’s seemingly hefty size, it snaked through narrow streets and twisted around tight corners with ease. Of course, it starts hinting at its magnitude when you venture into underground car parks, but with its roofline almost 100mm shorter than its predecessor, the Caravelle (standing at 1900mm), the wincing was slightly reduced. And just to add some extra peace of mind, it comes with parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard. Phew.
Alright then, off to the Dordogne. Finally some sunshine, hooray! And let's be honest, the Multivan is quite the looker. Our version has the Fortana red metallic paint job, a steal at £954 – well, maybe not a steal, but it requires a lot of paint to cover a van. And it’s much less than the £2,850 two-tone option (even though that’s the one you really want). VW's just got that magical touch when it comes to making vans cool.
As you've probably noticed, at this stage of our adventure, I was delighted with the Multivan. Not once did we step out after a long drive resembling tired travellers. It was like travelling in your front room. However, not all was rosy, there was one disappointment that I couldn't overlook. By the time we reached our final stop in the Alps before waving au revoir, it became even more apparent. You see, the 2.0-litre petrol engine hadn't even cracked 30mpg, which meant the fuel bill was accumulating rapidly. Not only that, but it was also clearly struggling with a heavy load of, well, ‘French delicacies’ on the steep inclines.
This makes me wonder why anyone would opt for the petrol version. The hybrid offers the convenience of electric-only operation for day-to-day use, can achieve around 35mpg on long journeys, and provides an extra boost of electric power before the engine kicks in. On the other hand, the diesel option should give you over 40mpg and offers the lower-down torque necessary for heavy lifting. So, for me, the diesel seems like the way to go if you’re planning on driving long distances. But whatever you pick, you won’t be let down by the Multivan’s supreme road-tripping capabilities.