Volkswagen Crafter (2017 - )
Last updated 25 January 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 is good enough to hold its own against those two.
The range spans 69 different versions, with a range of body lengths and heights. Front-wheel drive versions offer a cargo capacity of 18.4m3, with 3.0 - 4.0 tonnes. Opt for rear-wheel drive and the Crafter’s peak weight ranges from 3.5 to 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.
There are three different versions available, 102PS or 140PS plus the twin-turbo with 177PS. Whichever one you go for, 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 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 and heavy traffic. The stress of inner-city driving can further be reduced with an automatic parking system - for hands free parallel parking. There's also a cross traffic system that monitors approaching vehicles and will automatically apply the brakes if needed.
The interior of the Crafter isn’t as upmarket as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, with lots of hard and scratchy plastics, but there is no shortage of storage. It's also available with lots of technology including a crosswind system as standard which prevents the vane from drifting out of its lane in windy conditions.
The Crafter’s biggest selling point is its big load carrying potential and its impressive handling. Indeed, for its size, it is easy to use and has benefited with the cross development with the T6 Transporter. 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