The new Volkswagen Crafter 35 MWB panel van offers a safe and stylish alternative to light-duty box body trucks.
The new-generation Volkswagen Crafter arrived in New Zealand late in 2017 and represented a seismic shift in both design and technological specification in the European light commercial vehicle sector.
For a start the all-new model was entirely conceived by Volkswagen and is manufactured in a brand new purpose-built facility at Wrzesnia in Poland. It no longer shares a chassis and body panels with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, of which an all-new model is about to be launched this year.
Recognising that the Crafter isn’t just a simply workhorse, but also a workplace, and often plays a role in an integrated logistics and supply chain, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has invested heavily in providing as many driver assistance and safety features as it possibly can.
Under the bonnet the Euro 6 two-litre four-cylinder VW diesel engine is available in two states of tune: a single turbocharged 103kW/340Nm unit as standard, and an optional and more powerful twin turbocharged 130kW/410Nm unit which was fitted to our test vehicle.
Our test vehicle was also fitted with the eight-speed automatic transmission and being a Crafter 35 model it was also front-wheel-drive, with 4Motion all-wheel-drive being an extra cost option.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles New Zealand specifies the Crafter 35 MWB with a high roof as standard, however, if customers would prefer the normal roof, there’s a $2200 saving.
The high-roof Crafter 35 MWB also forms the basis for a locally fitted premium or luxury 12-seat minibus package which Volkswagen New Zealand is sourcing from experienced supplier Auto Transform.
There is a very high level of standard equipment on the Crafter 35 including front and rear park distance control and active side protection, as well as a reversing camera.
As well as standard dual sliding side doors there are also 270-degree opening rear barn doors with magnetic attachments, allowing them to be fully open but still secured, while the vehicle is reversed into tight spaces or a loading bay.
Driver assistance features include side wind assist, hill start assist, cruise control and an automatic post-collision braking system.
The electric power steering is a speed-dependent system with active energy control. The car-like Crafter has a multifunction steering wheel which drives the Display Plus multifunction screen in the dashboard.
The driver has a comfort seat-plus with armrests, lumbar support, and excellent levels of adjustability. There are plenty of storage spaces within the cabin and also under the two-passenger bench seat while the middle seat back folds down flat to provide additional cup holders and a flat space to write upon. There’s also numerous cupholders as well as bottle holders in both door pockets.
More driver assistance features found in Crafter 35 include forward collision warning with autonomous emergency brakes, side marker lamps, rear traffic alert, lane change assist system with blind spot monitor, and intermittent control windshield wipers with a light and rain sensor.
Because the Crafter is used by many different markets it naturally comes with a huge list of options so that buyers can create a vehicle that is customised to their needs and requirements.
Our test vehicle arrived with no less than $14,000 of options fitted to it.
This included the universal floor package with longitudinal lashing rails and rings ($2000). The 10mm thick beechwood veneer floor is not glued and is easily removed from the cargo area and, depending on vehicle length, it has 10 to 14 fastening rings sunk into it.
Two removable racks in the roof of the load compartment with a capacity of 50kg each ($600) were also fitted as well as plywood cladding up to the vehicle’s roof frame ($700).
Our big blue beauty was also fitted with the $1300 Trendline package, which provides four 12V outlets in the cab, overhead storage compartments and reading light, chrome package, interior sound insulation, illuminated and lockable glove compartment, front fog lamps with cornering light and front step illumination.
Other fitted options included the Discover Media navigation system ($1000) seat heaters ($500), heated rear windows with wiper system ($480), LED headlights/running lights ($2000), active cruise control ($1250), compartment lighting ($300), and acoustic warning when reverse gear is engaged ($500).
Finally, and one option we didn’t really get to test was the trailer manoeuvring system Trailer Assist, which also incorporated the park assist, park distance control with active side protection, and the removable and lockable trailer hitch for $4200.
So from the vehicle’s base price of $74,490 our test vehicles on-road price was $88,720 including GST.
That might seem a lot, but in this health and safety conscious era, the Crafter offers a great deal of safety and functionality which will be appreciated by operators during it’s no doubt long working lifespan.
On the road the additional sound insulation in the cabin as part of the Trendline package is quite noticeable. Most of the noise generated at motorway speed appears to be coming from the tall A pillars surrounding the enormous windshield.
Even under load the engine and transmission never feel or sound over stressed, and our average fuel consumption never exceed 8.8L/100km.
But for a vehicle that is more than 2.5 metres high, just under 2.5 metres wide, and a touch under six metres in length the Crafter is surprisingly easy to turn around in tight spaces thanks to a 13.6 m turning circle.
Parking such a large unit is made easier due to the front and rear and side sensors as well as the reversing camera, and the automated parallel parking feature is worth every dollar.
The Crafter 35 more than stacks up as a stylish, safe, comfortable and practical alternative to the traditional forward-control box-body light-duty truck beloved by many New Zealanders.
|Model||2018 Volkswagen Crafter 35 MWB Panel Van||Price||$74,490|
|Engine||1968cc, 4-Cylinder, 130kW/410Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto|
|Fuel Use||7.8L/100km||C02 Output||0g/km|
|0-100km/h||0.00 sec||Weight||2040kg kerb weight|
|Service||50,000km intervals, 3 year / 250,000km warranty||Load|
|Vitals||3500kg GVM, 1460kg payload||Vitals||3000kg towing capacity|