The What Van? Road Test: Volkswagen Crafter

Date: Thursday, June 10, 2021



Interior and equipment

Climb into the Crafter’s roomy three-seater cab and you are immediately faced with its uninspiring dashboard. 

Though by no means pretty, it is at least practical and reeks of quality. The materials used are top notch and the entire edifice is well put together.

Furthermore, it plays a key role in providing whoever is in the cab with a remarkable amount of storage space.

You will find three shelves, two cubbyholes on top and cup holders at each extremity with shelves next to them. Lower down you will see a big lockable glovebox with a narrow shelf above it, while other oddment stowage facilities include a shelf and two bins in both of the doors. 

One of the bins in each door has a moulding that can grasp a 1.5-litre bottle of water.

Pull down the centre section of the middle seat’s back and it is immediately transformed into a handy desk with pen trays, two cup holders and an elasticated band to keep paperwork in place. Lift up the passenger seat cushions and you will discover space underneath that you can use to hide items – a smartphone for example – from casual thieves. 

With some three-seater vans, being able to turn the centre seat into a desk is its sole advantage because it is too cramped for an occupant to use with comfort. However, for the Crafter this is not too much of a problem. There is plenty of shoulder room, and while legroom cannot be classed as generous it is better than in other three-seater cabs we have tested.

Look up and you will spy two more shelves and two further cubbyholes above the windscreen. Overhead storage forms part of the optional Business Pack, which also includes air conditioning, an anti-theft alarm with interior monitoring and towing protection, and front and rear parking sensors.

Given that our Crafter had opaque rear doors we cannot help but feel that rear sensors should be standard on this model rather than requiring an extra charge.

Both the driver’s seat and the steering wheel are height-adjustable, with the former offering lumbar adjustment as well. The wheel can be altered for reach, plays host to remote controls for the radio and was heated in our case, though this is an added extra.

Our demonstrator came with an optional (and easy to use and effective) Discover Media satnav system with an 8in touchscreen. The screen also controls the upgraded DAB+ radio and forms part of a Bluetooth-enabled package, with a USB point sitting on top of the dashboard. This is complemented by 12v power sockets.

The option also features App-Connect, which displays supported apps using interfaces such as Apple CarPlay on the aforementioned screen, and We Connect preparation. We Connect enables media streaming and access to real-time traffic information among other features.

Cruise control with a speed limiter, a driver’s airbag, electric windows and electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors are all provided. The mirrors have a separate lower wide-angle section. 

Our Crafter was also equipped with air conditioning, another added option.

VWCV has made a major commitment to safety for many years and the Crafter is helping to uphold this praiseworthy tradition. 

It comes with a comprehensive suite of safety packages that includes ABS, electronic stability programme, electronic brake assist and hill hold. 

Automatic post-collision braking is part of the furniture as well. It instantly initiates braking if the driver is incapacitated by a collision in order to prevent any secondary impacts.

Present too is crosswind assist. It responds if a sudden strong gust of wind looks as though it is powerful enough to blow the Crafter out of its lane on the motorway and into an adjacent lane – and potentially into the path of oncoming vehicles.

The Crafter’s big safety plus, however, is a front assist emergency braking system. It operates in conjunction with city emergency braking and the package is standard on all models.

Front assist warns the driver if a front-end collision looks likely, jolts the brakes if the warning is not acted on, then ensures that maximum braking power is available instantly if the driver stops daydreaming and stamps hard on the brake pedal. 

City emergency braking quickly slams on the brakes at up to 18mph on urban thoroughfares if the driver fails to see an obstruction and is on course to hit it.

Grab handles are mounted on each of the A-pillars so at least the passenger will have something to cling on to as the van judders to a halt.

Continuing on the safety side, the Crafter was equipped with an optional rear-view camera and Lights and Vision Pack A. This added option includes headlights that illuminate automatically when necessary and a rain sensor that triggers the windscreen wipers when required.

Disc brakes are installed all round. McPherson strut-type suspension is fitted at the front, while leaf springs help support the back. Our Crafter’s 16in steel wheels wore Continental ContiVan Contact 205/75 R16C tyres.

Electromechanical power-assisted steering offers a 13.6m wall-to-wall turning circle.


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