Volkswagen Sharan review
The seven-seat VW Sharan is a great all-round family car, with a flexible interior and grown-up driving experience
For large families, the Volkswagen Sharan is a worthwhile choice. Frugal diesels mean low running costs and the seven-seat interior is spacious and flexible enough for all occasions. There's also the option of electrically sliding rear doors to make access as easy as possible.
Our choice: Sharan 2.0 TDI 140 SE
It's hard to make an eye-catching MPV, but Volkswagen has done its best with the Sharan. The clean shape and sharp lines are smart but not particularly exciting. Practicality is favoured over style to some extent, too, with the runners for the sliding rear-doors leaving black grooves down the rear flanks of the car.
The diesel engines best suit the Sharan, because their pulling power copes better with the car's weight. They're also surprisingly frugal and quiet on the move. Most powerful of the bunch is a 2.0-litre petrol turbo with 197bhp, but be prepared to pay the price at the pumps for its performance. For such a large car, all-round visibility is pretty good, but go for the optional parking sensors just to avoid any scrapes. Handling is sharp for such a tall car, and you'll notice an ability to travel around corners at high speeds with little fuss. The suspension is comfortable, and engine noise is low.
Occupants will be safe during an accident, thanks to the standard fitting of seven airbags. That includes curtain, passenger, driver and even driver's knee airbags. Euro NCAP awarded the Sharan five stars for safety, and it achieved an incredible 96 per cent for adult occupant protection. Much of the running gear of the Sharan has been proven elsehwhere in the Volkswagen line-up, so owners shouldn't suffer too many problems, if any.
The VW Sharan can be driven as a five-seater with a large boot. A pair of chairs fold out of the boot floor for a seven-seater, but space or luggage and passengers becomes minimal. The plus side is a highly flexible seat arrangement, with child booster seats available, and the ability to fold all but the driver’s seat to create a van-like load area. The cabin is sturdy and well insulated from external noise, and controls are easy to navigate. SE is the best value trim level and includes Bluetooth, a multi-function steering wheel, three-zone air-conditioning and front and rear parking sensors.
Models wearing the 'BlueMotion Technology' badge get fuel-saving tweaks like a start/stop system, low rolling resistance tyres and brake energy regeneration. That helps the most frugal engine – the 2.0-litre TDI 140 – achieve a combined figure of 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 146g/km. Worst of all the engines is the 2.0-litre TSI which emits 198g/km of CO2 and manages 33.2mpg combined. Although for the performance on offer, and for a car this size, that's still not bad.