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The VW Crafter operates in a highly competitive sector – Transit, Movano, Ducato, Iveco Daily etc

Volkswagen Crafter CR30 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion 136hp SWB six-speed manual

What is it?

Volkswagen’s Crafter has much in common with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, with many shared components including the chassis and bodies, although the engines and the gearboxes are all Volkswagen.

It’s stacking up against a host of rivals – not only the Sprinter, but the Ford Transit, Vauxhall Movano, Fiat Ducato and Iveco Daily, so there’s a great deal of rivalry in the zone.

The VW Crafter is available in three wheelbases with four body lengths and three roof heights, providing a wide range of load volumes and payloads.

The short wheelbase model tested here combines good manoeuvrability with a decent practical size and a sturdy workmanlike build.

BlueMotion Technology (BMT) incorporates stop-start, low rolling resistance tyres, cruise control, and energy recuperation.

The interior is functional rather than exciting – plenty of kit though, and perfectly comfortable

And in addition to the standard BMT features, the dedicated BMT short-wheelbase model weighs less and has improved aerodynamics available only with this model and the long wheelbase high-roof variant. According to Volkswagen, the BlueMotion model can achieve as much to 39.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 187g/km.

Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre engined is refined and doesn’t feel lacking compared with the bigger 2.3-litre Renault Master or 2.1-litre and 3-litre Sprinter power units. And with 340Nm of torque on tap, the VW Crafter isn’t lacking in oomph. It’ll pull strongly from standstill, even with a load on board.

All Crafters have a six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. The dash-mounted gear lever is easy to use and smooth in operation.

On the road the Crafter feels stable and handles well with precise steering and little suggestion of body roll through the bends. It also offers an impressively tight turning circle making an agile performer around town.

Electronic Stability Programme is standard, in common with its rivals the Sprinter and Transit, but outdoing the Vauxhall Movano, which provides ESP as standard only on certain models.

The VW Crafter also has ABS, ASR (anti-slip regulation), EDS (electronic differential lock system) and ‘braking assistant’. Other safety features include driver’s airbag, audible warning for an unfastened driver’s seat belt, plus lamp failure indicator.

The interior I found a little disappointing, with much grey and black plastic. It doesn’t quite live up to the stylish cab found in its smaller stablemate, the Transporter.

Nevertheless it’s easy to find a good driving position with height, reach and rake adjustment of the driver’s seat. There’s good visibility and the cab is well equipped with cruise control, a range of storage compartments, radio/CD player with five speakers, plus a dual passenger seat with storage box and folding tray in the backrest.

A full height steel bulkhead separates cab and load area.

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