Replacing the LT, the Crafter is Volkswagen’s challenger in the large panel van market. It features many similarities with the current Mercedes Sprinter — the result of a joint development programme — and the two are built alongside each other at a Merc plant.
Power for the whole range comes from common rail versions of the familiar five-cylinder TDI lump, available with achoice of four power outputs; 88hp, 109hp, 136hp and 163hp. Peak torque is 220Nm, 279Nm, 300Nm and 350Nm respectively. Service intervals are variable dependent on usage, but can be as long as 25,000 miles.
All models feature ABS and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), as well as a six-speed manual gearbox — gearstick is dash-mounted — and power assisted steering. An auto ’box is optional with the 109hp and 136hp units.
Three wheelbases are offered, along with a Maxi version of the long-wheelbase with an extended rear overhang. Combined with three roof heights this means that Crafter is available with load space from 7.5m3 to 17.0m3. Gross payloads range from 986kg to 2,631kg. Gross vehicle weights are 3.0t, 3.5t and 5.0t, but the 3.0t can be downplated to 2.8t if required. Medium- and longwheelbase chassis cabs are available.
Access to the load area is via a nearside sliding door or twin side-hinged rear doors. Be warned, the overlapping rear VW badge is not a handle! The cab bears a striking resemblance to that of the Sprinter, but this is no bad thing. The driver’s seat is multiadjustable so that the correct driving position can be set and the controls are all well positioned. Standard specification is good with three-button remote central locking, electric mirrors and windows, driver’s airbag and a radio/CD player.
Crafter has a great choice of engines, a wide choice of configurations and a grille that is unmistakable. Check it out.