Volkswagen Crafter (2017 - )
Last updated 21 April 2017
Powered by a 100-kilowatt motor, the eCrafter is capable of carrying 1.7 tonnes up to 129 miles on a single charge. With a permitted total weight of 4.2 tonnes, the eCrafter's 312 cell battery pack...
The Crafter is Volkswagen’s largest and most versatile van. It’s available with a wide choice of bodystyles - including panel van, tipper and dropside - while the largest versions will easily carry six Euro pallets and offer gross vehicle weights of 5.5 tonnes.
Admittedly, the Crafter doesn’t enjoy the same level of popularity as the Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but the Volkswagen has more than enough in its locker to hold its own against the class leaders.
The range spans 69 different versions, with a wide choice of body lengths and heights. Front-wheel drive versions offer a cargo capacity of 18.4m3, spanning 3.0 - 4.0 tonnes. Opt for rear-wheel drive, however, and the Crafter’s peak weight increases to 3.5 - 5.5 tonnes.
Unlike its predecessor, the Crafter is no longer built by Mercedes-Benz, alongside the Sprinter. Instead, for the first time in 20 years, the Crafter is built by Volkswagen. This means it benefits from its comprehensive range of tech, with the 2.0 TDI engine and gearbox sourced from the T6 Transporter.
The four-cylinder diesel is available in four versions, 102PS, 122PS, 140PS and 177PS, with the latter using a twin turbocharger. All pull strongly through the low gears, while engine and road noise levels are well suppressed at motorway speeds. However, with claimed economy in the region of 38mpg, the Volkswagen doesn’t match its rivals for economy, with many large vans in this class surpassing the 40mpg barrier.
The Crafter does handle better than many other large vans, with smooth and light steering that makes it easy to navigate narrow streets or heavy traffic. The stress of inner-city driving can further be reduced with an automatic parking system - for hands free parallel parking. You can also fit a useful cross traffic system, which will warn you of approaching vehicles when you're reversing off a driveway or out of a space.
The Crafter’s biggest selling points, however, lie in its big load carrying potential and its impressive handling. Indeed, for its size, it is surprisingly easy to use and its driving characteristics are more akin to a much smaller van. Some might be put off by its higher running costs, but the comfortable and high tech Crafter remains a worthy rival to the best large panel vans.
Volkswagen says: "The new Crafter is economical, functional and innovative like never before." www.volkswagen.co.uk