Kombi comes of age

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

PEO­PLE-MOVERS have come a long way since the orig­i­nal Kombi in the 1950s.

The svelte lines and com­fort­able seat­ing of, say, Honda’s Odyssey are light years from the brick-shaped Kombi. Yet a rec­tan­gu­lar van is the most prac­ti­cal shape for mov­ing peo­ple and their lug­gage.

VWflies the flag of peo­ple­mov­ing vans with the Mul­ti­van. It might look to have the aero­dy­nam­ics of a shoe box but it is prac­ti­cal and the new 2.0-litre turbo petrol model over­comes some of the tra­di­tional short­falls of such things in the ar­eas of power, econ­omy and driv­ing dy­nam­ics. VALUE Peo­ple-movers (or MPVs) start at $25,990 for Kia’s Rondo and range up to the Mercedes-Benz Viano at $79,490. The Mul­ti­van TSI350 is at the top end of the field along with Toy­ota’s flag­ship Tarago ($71,990).

TheVWs­tarts in Com­fort­line spec for $54,990 with chrome ac­cents, Blue­tooth, win­dow blinds, cli­mate con­trol and cruise.

For $71,990 the top-price Highline adds pow­ered dual slid­ing side doors, rain­sens­ing wipers, fog lights, auto head­lights, cabin ta­ble, pre­mium sound sys­tem and 17-inch al­loy wheels.

The true value is in the abil­ity to carry seven big adults in com­fort, with plenty of lug­gage space and the abil­ity to con­fig­ure the cabin in myr­iad ways.

Volk­swa­gen also has good re­sale and war­ranty for this type of ve­hi­cle.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The turbo petrol TSI350 engine brings sporty and re­spon­sive dy­nam­ics and rel­a­tively good econ­omy. With 150kW/350Nm, it’s not as MPV as the V6 Kia Grand Carnival (202kW/336Nm), but mar­ried to the sev­en­speed DSG au­to­matic trans­mis­sion it’s slightly more eco­nom­i­cal at 10.1L/100km com­pared with 10.9. SAFETY There is no ANCAP safety rat­ing for the Mul­ti­van, but it comes with six airbags, in­clud­ing cur­tain airbags that cover the whole cabin.

Side as­sist and a rearview cam­era are op­tional, how­ever, since it is a rec­tan­gle, the ve­hi­cle ex­tends as far as the eye can see at the win­dows, so park­ing and ma­noeu­vring in small ar­eas is lit­tle prob­lem.

It also comes with sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS and brake as­sist, and there are five child seat an­chor points. DE­SIGN It’s ba­si­cally a brick on wheels and only Bauhaus fans – the ra­tio­nal and func­tional art style, not the ’70s Brit-punk band – would find it re­motely ap­peal­ing.

That’s not to say rock bands don’t see its ap­peal. Many a group owes its abil­ity to get to the gig to a Kombi. Ex­te­rior de­sign is re­flected inside with VW’s typ­i­cally aus­tere and func­tional in­stru­men­ta­tion.

It also comes with long dual slid­ing doors and a mas­sive tail­gate that makes load­ing lug­gage and peo­ple ef­fort­less. Slid­ing floor rails al­low the two sec­ond-row seats to be moved sep­a­rately and ro­tated 180-deg and the third row bench seat also moves for­ward and back for max­i­mum ver­sa­til­ity. DRIV­ING It leaps off the line with sur­pris­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion and a slight chirp of the front wheels.

Driv­ers will also find it turns into cor­ners with star­tling agility and very lit­tle need to de­ploy the elec-

Slid­ing floor rails al­low the two sec­ond-row seats to be moved sep­a­rately and ro­tated 180-deg

tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram.

The en­gi­neers can only go so far in coun­ter­act­ing the laws of physics on a tall van, so rapid swerv­ing to avoid an ob­ject at speed can cause mas­sive body wob­bles.

Still, it’s re­spon­sive and ag­ile for a big van and also very quiet even though the driver is al­most sit­ting over the engine.

Doors open and close with a solid clunk and the whole ve­hi­cle feels like it could hit a brick wall and come away in bet­ter shape. VER­DICT For­get about the looks. This is a prac­ti­cal van with loads of space, a flex­i­ble seat­ing ar­range­ment and now a good bal­ance of power and econ­omy.

VW flies the flag of peo­ple-mov­ing vans with the Mul­ti­van

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