The new-generation Volkswagen Crafter is available in Australia and sales of the big van and cab chassis offering are nearly twice what they were in the same month last year.
And why wouldn’t they be? This is a quality vehicle.
I was in Auckland recently for the Australian launch of the new-gen Crafter and came away convinced that Volkswagen had done their homework.
On that launch I got a drive of both auto and manual versions, this week though I have spent a week in the auto and I again think my preference might still be the manual.
My test vehicle was the TDI410 long wheelbase van variant, again, fitted with the auto and with a starting price of $58,990.
The manual version can be yours from $55,990.
One of the Volkswagen Crafter‘s real strong suits – the cab is a comfortable, nicely laid-out place to be.
Some of the highlights include the commanding seating position, the car-like look and feel, the well-placed and plentiful grab handles and the many and varied storage spots.
The high roof van also has handy roof-mounted storage areas and even cavernous under-seat storage.
Crafter brings the driver all the important data on fuel consumption etc. via a black and white display screen found between the traditional dial-type speedo and tacho.
The best bit here though is the chance to bring up a digital speedo on the screen, a welcome tool to have.
There’s a fold-down armrest for the driver, comfy seats and a better than decent infotainment/sound system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The bulky cargo barrier helps not only keep the load in the rear, it also helps to keep the cab nice and quiet too.
This variant, as the name implies, has 410Nm of torque available to you from 2,000 rpm.
Power output from the 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine reaches 130kW at 3600 rpm.
Again, the manual allows you to squeeze some more life out of the engine, particularly during low speed/low revs driving and tends to make the Crafter feel a lot more willing.
The auto though, an eight-speed unit, does a better than respectable job, it’s smooth and responsive enough when a lower cog is required.
Nice ride and well-weighted steering are other positives, while the turning circle, as you might expect from a LWB van, is rather substantial.
Overall though, it’s really hard to find too much not to like.
The Volkswagen designers have done a great job providing easy access into the cargo area via the side sliding doors and the rear barn doors on the new Crafter.
Once inside you have 14,400 litres of cargo space and a payload of 1,242kg.
The floor height in this front-wheel drive van is remarkably low and a handy grab handle makes for easy access into the rear via the side.
There’s plenty of tie-down hooks and a big 1380mm between the wheel arches.
I also like the function of the rear barn doors – they open out to 90 degrees initially, then a second stage sees them move out to 180 degrees and then finally to be parallel with the side of the van.
At this point there isn’t an ANCAP safety rating for the new Volkswagen Crafter.
Standard safety gear in the new offering includes:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Reverse camera
- Stability control
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Driver attention alert
The roof-mounted reverse camera is a must-have in a van like this with the high-position giving you a great view of what’s behind you when maneuvering, especially helping you judge the distance between the rear bumper and the vehicle behind, or loading dock etc.
The new Volkswagen Crafter is one of the finest light commercial vehicles available in Australia. I tried, but I couldn’t really find anything I didn’t like about it.
It has terrific load carrying ability, is safe, has a good list of standard gear, is comfortable and easy to drive.
Again, the manual feels a bit more spirited and would be my pick, however the auto is anything but a compromise.
Full marks to the Volkswagen team!
Facts and Figures: 2019 Volkswagen Crafter TDI410
- Engine: 2.0 litre twin-turbo diesel producing 130kW/410Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual or eight-speed auto
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Poland
- Price: from $55,990