Volkswagen’s passenger-carrying vans have fans all over the world. Will the new one satisfy all of them?
The Ferrari SF90 Stradale, Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, new Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX are among the cars that we’ve been most excited about over the past couple of years. The launch of each was hyped up for months in advance.
But yesterday came an unveiling with a slightly more personal touch – one that may have passed you by if you care more about acceleration than accommodation or value pace over plug sockets.
Yes, it’s the new Volkswagen Multivan, which, despite the retro-inspired new name, is essentially the new version of the big-selling Transporter MPV that we all know and love.
It has received a new platform, a radical new look and even a plug-in hybrid powertrain option.
It’s hugely exciting in its own right, of course, and surely is as valuable to many of Volkswagen’s top brass as is the Golf or ID 3. But the challenges faced by the Multivan are far more arduous than mere WLTP homologation processes, MPV group tests or test track lap times.
You see, anyone who’s really excited about the new Multivan – let’s call it the T7, for the sense of continuity – probably has a connection to VW vans of yore.
The T7 is the latest in a line of passenger-carrying Volkswagen vans that goes back, more or less, to the early 1950s. Volkswagen nerds like myself can spout affectionately coined monikers like Barndoor, Splittie, Bay and Wedge in discussing the Transporter’s hallowed lineage, and no doubt view this latest generation’s unveiling as no less significant than the revival of the Beetle in 1997.
I grew up in the shadow of a succession of brightly coloured Type 2 ‘Bay Window’ campervans converted by the best of the best: German firm Westfalia (a Helsinki and a Campmobile, since you ask).
The clattering air-cooled ‘pancake’ motor at the rear, the musty smell of the ‘pop-top’ rooftop bed and glaring tartan upholstery are emblazoned, thus, in my sensory register for life, and I remain an ardent VW van fanboy to this day.
Later, a friend and I would rescue a T3 Multivan from behind some bins around the back of a local garage, spraypaint it in his garden and create lasting memories ferrying hordes of like-minded fools to school, parties and McDonalds.