Volkswagen Crafter

Our Rating: 
4.2
4.2/5.0
Price Range: 
£21,050 to £32,900
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Volkswagen Crafter comes with three wheelbases, four body lengths and two roof heights, with gross weights (GVW) of 3,500kg and 5,000kg

For: 
Broad choice of body volumes, frugal BlueMotion Technology models
Against: 
Expensive, no automatic transmission option

The Volkswagen Crafter van is built alongside the Mercedes Sprinter, but the two vans are very different, with all VW’s powered by the firm’s own 2.0-litre TDI engines. BlueMotion Technology models offer excellent economy and emission levels. The panel van is offered in three wheelbases with four body lengths and three roof heights, providing a wide range of load volumes and payloads. Also available in window van, single and double-chassis cab, dropside and tipper, the Crafter is rated at 3,000kg, 3,500kg and 5,000kg GVW, making it ideal for conversions as well as for heavy-load carrying. In many cases, it's a better van than the Mercedes Sprinter, with which it shares a chassis and body structure.

MPG and Running Costs

4.1

The Crafter’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine offers 109bhp, 136bhp, 143bhp and 163bhp, all of which have strong torque outputs for strong low-rev performance. In standard trim, the more powerful engines are actually the most frugal, with the 163bhp engine returning up to 35.8mpg in fuel economy and emitting 208g/km of CO2. VW’s BlueMotion Technology (BMT) is available with the 109bhp, 143bhp and 163bhp engines, adding cruise control, low-rolling resistance tyres, stop-start, and energy recuperation, where the alternator charges harder when the vehicle is decelerating or braking to reduce the energy taken from the engine under power. In addition, there are dedicated BlueMotion models based around the 109bhp and 136bhp engines. As well as the regular BMT features, these models have less weight, improved aerodynamics and can only be ordered with the short panel van at 3,000kg GVW, or the long-wheelbase van with high roof at 3,500kg. VW claims the BlueMotion van can return up to 39.8mpg with CO2 emissions of just 187g/km. All Crafter vans drive through a six-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels.

Load Space and Practicality

4.2

The Crafter offers a wide spread of volumes and payloads, with three wheelbases, four body lengths, three roof heights and three gross weights.  Even the smallest model has a 2,600mm-long load bay, while the largest can handle five Europallets. The vans have a 1,300mm-wide sliding side door that also permits the loading of a Europallet at the front of the load space and there are two load-lashing rings on the B-pillars, and between six and 12 tie-down rings in the floor of the van. A second sliding side door is available on the driver’s side for £415, while electric sliding doors can be specified for £655. VW also offers a choice of fixed and removable tow bars, while rear-bumper steps are available for £95 to £245. The Crafter window van comes in medium and long wheelbases with two roof options, offering seating for up to nine people and their luggage. VW also offers single and double-chassis cab, dropsides and tippers from the factory in its Engineered To Go programme, providing a single source for more specialised vehicles with a full VW warranty. All Crafter vans have a full-height steel bulkhead, though window bulkheads are available (£55) and a bulkhead with a sliding door (£785) can be ordered for delivery vehicles, offering the driver a walk-through facility from the cab into the load area. VW also has a wide range of wooden and rubber floor coverings, hardboard and plywood side linings available for the Crafter. Not surprisingly, the Crafter offers a similar range of bodies as the Mercedes Sprinter. It doesn’t, however, offer the wide range of smaller body volumes provided by the Ford Transit or the Vauxhall Movano range. As all Crafter vans use rear-wheel drive, there is no option for the low floor afforded by a front-drive chassis such as on the Citroen Relay. 

Reliability and Safety

4.3

As with all Volkswagen vans, the Crafter comes with ESC electronic stability control as standard. This puts the VW in line with the Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit, and ahead of the Vauxhall Movano, which only offers ESP as standard on rear-drive models. The Crafter also has electronic brakeforce distribution and a traction control system to assist the driver if the roads get slippery. An optional speed limiter is available (£40) and a passenger airbag can be specified for £225. Front passenger airbags, with side and front curtain airbags for passenger and driver, are also an option for £815. Parking sensors in the front and rear will set you back £315, or the van can be supplied with a reversing camera with 7-inch dashboard monitor for £845. Volkswagens are known for their reliability and the Crafter comes with a three-year/100,000-mile warranty, in common with the market-leading Ford Transit.

Driving and Performance

4.1

The Crafter is powered by a range of 2.0-litre TDI engines, which, though smaller in capacity than Mercedes’ 2.1-litre and 3.0-litre engines, or the 2.3-litre engines used in the Renault Master, offer plenty of power and torque. The bi-turbo 163bhp engine, in particular ,delivers a very healthy 400Nm of torque, which is more than enough for rapid acceleration in all but the 5,000kg GVW models, and delivers easy cruising at motorway speeds. All Crafter vans use a six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. There's no automatic or DSG option available, unlike the Sprinter’s automatic transmission or the Comfort-Matic automated gearbox in the Fiat Ducato. The Crafter offers assured handling and strong brakes, and the high driving position provides a good view of the road ahead.

Cab and Interior

4

The Crafter has a typically tough-looking Volkswagen cab interior, with strong, durable but rather hard plastics in sombre greys and blacks. Firm seating is comfortable over long distances and the vans have a good driving position with seat height, and reach-and-rake adjustment. A height and reach-adjustable steering wheel is a £65 option, though. There's lots of storage space in the Crafter’s cab, with a fold-down table in the back of the middle seat and overhead storage above the front windscreen. Electric windows are standard and cruise control is a reasonable £215, though it is standard with all BlueMotion Technology models. Dipping into VW’s huge options list can be costly, with air-conditioning an expensive £1,050 option, compared to £600 in the Vauxhall Movano, while the Visibility Pack, including rain sensors, headlamp washers and automatic lights, will set you back £370. Sat-nav is a massive £1,640, though that does include Bluetooth integration.

Van dimensions

Body style Height Width Length
Short van 2,415mm 1,193mm 5,240mm
Medium High van 2,705mm 1,193mm 5,905mm
Medium Extra High van 2,940mm 1,193mm 5,905mm
Long High van 2,705mm 1,193mm 6,940mm
Long Extra High van 2,940mm 1,193mm 6,940mm
Long Maxi High van 2,705mm 1,193mm 7,340mm
Long Maxi Extra High van 2,940mm 1,193mm 7,340mm

(Widths are body width without mirrors. With mirrors 2,426mm) 

Load area dimensions

Body style Height Width Length Volume
Short van 1,650mm 1,780mm 2,600mm 7.5m3
Medium High van 1,940mm 1,780mm 3,625mm 11.0m3
Medium Extra High van 2,140mm 1,780mm 3,625mm 11.5m3
Long High van 1,940mm 1,780mm 4,300mm 14.0m3
Long Extra High van 2,140mm 1,780mm 4,300mm 15.0m3
Long Maxi High van 1,940mm 1,780mm 4,700mm 15.5m3
Long Maxi Extra High van 2,140mm 1,780mm 4,700mm 17.0m3

(Widths are maximum, width between wheel arches is 1,350mm) 

Specifications

  • Power: 102bhp – 163bhp
  • Weight (GVW): 3,000kg – 5,000kg
  • Payload: 1,544kg – 2,693kg
  • Loading height (approx, unladen): 670mm

Disqus - noscript

Had a few Crafters. Not as reliable as claimed and never ever again after the last one! All the Sprinters I have had have been so much better. Different class in reliability terms.

There is an automatic, I have one.

Last updated: 25 Jun, 2013
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