VW's easy driving

big seven seater

Volkswagen Sharan, front
Volkswagen Sharan, side
Volkswagen Sharan, rear
Volkswagen Sharan, interior
Volkswagen Sharan, boot
Volkswagen Sharan, rear seats

THERE'S nothing like a big MPV when you've got to pick up a crowd of daughter and friends from the station.

But you can't turn down the volume when you're on the way home.

Luckily I had the VW Sharan for the job and it proved a great companion not just for that chore but the whole week.

A job on the edge of Wales with great roads to choose there and back really showed how good it is to drive.

And I was amazed that at the end of the journey it was showing an average of a real 44 miles to the gallon - superb for such a large vehicle.

I drove the SE Nav with the 150bhp version of VW's smooth 2.0-litre diesel and the truly excellent DSG twin clutch automatic gearbox.

But it's worth noting that the DSG adds about £2,000 to the price over the manual and also that the diesel takes almost five years to break even with the equivalent cheaper petrol model.

All that said, I really enjoyed the big load lugger. The engine is refined and powerful, giving very good acceleration and will also trickle along at low speeds with ease.

The automatic is brilliant, with sport and manual settings so that you can choose how you want to drive.

Sport is best for enjoyment, because the engine is kept in its best power band, but the manual, with paddles behind the steering wheel, can also be good fun.

One of VW's great strengths these days in most of its cars is the quality of the ride - only spoiled in those that have sports suspension.

The Sharan was comfortable over all surfaces and all speeds, apart from a slight rocking motion common to many taller vehicles.

Hip and back hugging front seats, together with excellent grip and a very flat cornering stance meant there was plenty of fun to be had.

But obviously, I would never throw it around with others on board, because those in the back have little support from their seats, and would find it very uncomfortable.

Space inside is vast, and the 2-3-2 seats will hold seven adults if needs be. There's even enough luggage room for a week's shopping with all the seats in place.

Equipment in the Bluemotion SE Nav I drove includes start/stop - which I turned off a couple of times because it let me down - very good navigation system, climate, alloys, traction and stability control, audio remote controls on the wheel, cruise, and parking sensors front and rear.

FAST FACTS

Price: £32,650

Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 54

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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