Kombi comes of age
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.
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