Review: Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015)
Quiet and refined seven-seater with lots of interior space, impressive road handling for its size, strong range of efficient diesel engines.
Isn't that different to the old T5, expensive to buy new, ride can get bumpy on rough roads, rear seats are heavy and cumbersome to remove.
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Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure
The Volkswagen Caravelle is one of the largest and classiest MPVs on the market, with its boxy design providing spacious, car-like comfort for up to six passengers. Popular with taxi drivers and airport shuttle firms, the Caravelle is good to drive and surprisingly efficient, for its size. However, with prices starting from £37,000 including VAT, Volkswagen's people carrier is an expensive choice for family buyers.
Owing to the fact that it is based on the Transporter, the Caravelle majors on flexibility, with its floor rail system making it painless to configure the two rows of seats and plastic multi-functional table. Getting in and out is simple too, with the vehicle's twin-sliding doors and low flat floor providing easy access for all ages.
The seats can be removed completely, returning the Caravelle to its original van-like state. However, be warned, the seats are very heavy and bulky, which makes their removal strictly a two person job.
On the road Caravelle handles keenly, with responsive steering and lots of front-end grip. Engine and road noise levels are well-supressed while general comfort is high, although the ride can get a little bumpy on uneven roads.
The Caravelle feels stable and predictable at motorway speeds though and its 1.9 metre height means it easily fits into most multi-story car parks, while the light steering and large mirrors make parking relatively painless.
There are four engines to choose from - two diesels and two petrols - but it is the 150PS 2.0 TDI that shines through as the best with punchy performance for overtaking slow traffic and claimed economy in the mid-40s. Volkswagen also offers a bi-turbo 2.0 TDI with 204PS, should you want more power for your people, carrier.
Despite its considerable £37,000+ list price, the Volkswagen Caravelle has lots of likeable traits and its practical nature and affordable running costs make it well-suited for taxi firms and airport shuttle duty. Family buyers will need more convincing to spend so much though, with the Caravelle's starting price being £10,000 more than a Ford Galaxy or SEAT Alhambra.
What does a Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015) cost?
Buy a used Volkswagen Caravelle from £38,980
Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015): What's It Like Inside?
The Volkswagen Caravelle might not be one of cheapest seven-seater MPVs on the market, but its large body and comfortable interior certainly make it one of the most capable. The interior is huge and will take up to six passengers via two rows of seats, while the large seats will provide lots of comfort for long trips.
Both the seats and plastic multi-functional table are attached to the flat floor via rails, which means it's simple to configure them. The second row of seats also swivel 360 degrees, which means passengers can face forwards or face one another. The seats can be removed altogether if you want to return the Caravelle to a van, but they are extremely heavy. They also have to be stored somewhere.
With all of the seats in place, the Caravelle is comfortable and spacious, with lots of head and legroom throughout. The large and well-padded seats provide excellent all-round comfort and can be specified with individual arm rests and leather upholstery. The three-seat rear bench gets two Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer two seats too, while the two middle seats got another Isofix point each.
Getting in and out is easy, thanks to the low, flat floor and twin-sliding side doors. Entry-level models get manual doors as standard, but powered door are available as an option, which are operated by a button on the key fob or from inside the cabin. Illuminated interior entry steps are also standard, which prevents passengers from tripping up at night.
There's no shortage of cup or bottle holders and the semi-automatic air conditioning features a separate heater for the rear, which allows those in the back to set their own temperature. Executive models get fully automatic air con and all-round privacy glass.
Volkswagen doesn't quote any boot space figures and this is probably due to the fact that there isn't a lot of storage space behind the third for of seats. However, due to the configurable nature of the interior, it's quite easy to change this and utilise the Caravelle's cavernous interior.
What's the Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015) like to drive?
The Caravelle's handling characteristics mimic the Transporter T6 van. Light steering and nicely weighted pedals making this large and somewhat imposing MPV surprisingly easy and stress free to drive. The elevated seating position is higher than many family SUVs too, which means the driver gets a commanding view of the road.
Despite its van-origins the Caravelle feels upmarket and refined, with hushed wind and road noise. The ride is also calm and comfortable, although potholes will occasionally cause the body to bounce at low speeds. However, stick to the standard 16-inch wheels and the ride quality is mostly kept in check, which means you can tackle B roads with confidence and not have to worry about your passengers rolling about in the back.
The Caravelle is available in short and long wheel bases, with the latter getting more interior space. Both get front and rear parking sensors as standard, while the vehicle's 1.9 metre height makes it easy to get into multi-story car parks.
The engine line-up consists of two petrols and two diesels. However, unless you only cover repeated short runs from cold, the Caravelle is at its best with diesel power. The two petrol options - 2.0 TSI with 150PS or 204PS - do a good job of matching the diesels for torque, but lack economy and both struggle to surpass 30mpg.
The 150PS diesel is the best engine, with 340Nn of torque flowing from just 1500rpm. This gives the Caravelle strong low-gear acceleration and enough poke to overtake slow moving traffic. Claimed economy is also impressive, with the 2.0 TDI officially returning 47.1mpg.
A 2.0 bi-turbo diesel is also available, with 204PS and a considerable 450Nm of torque from 1400rpm. This transforms the Caravelle into one of one of the most powerful MPVs on the market. However, as always with these things, economy suffers, with a claimed 44.8mpg. All models get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while more powerful versions get the option of a seven-speed DSG automatic.
4Motion all-wheel drive is also available as an option and, when specified with the bi-turbo engine and winter tyres, transforms the Caravelle into an all-weather bruiser. As a result many are used by shuttle firms at ski resorts, with the Caravelle's high ground clearance and smooth torque delivery being the perfect solution to snow clad roads.
Real MPG average for a Volkswagen T6 Caravelle (2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.